Adventure tourism in Chile holds burgeoning promise

Founders of extreme travel company Dream On describe the state of eco and extreme tourism in Chile’s plentiful natural wilderness.

Recording nearly 3.5 million tourist visas during 2012, Chile tracked a 13 percent increase in tourism that year – a larger increase than the country had seen for seven years. Earlier this year Wanderlust Travel donned Chile with the honor of the seventh best travel destination based on traveler reports.

Slowly but surely, Chile’s mystique is creeping onto the international tourism map. While cities like Santiago and Valparaíso have their own beckoning charm, many visitors to Chile are drawn by the country’s adventure tourism and outdoor possibilities.

In an interview with the World Property Channel, Ignacio Alamos and Carlos Lyng, founders of the adventure tourism company Dream On, spoke about the state of adventure travel in Chile and its huge potential for growth.

“Chile is a country that, given its geography, could be a world class destination for eco-tourism and adventure tourism, given that it has a tremendous variety of landscapes within a short distance of each other,” Alamos stated. “For example, there are only 200 kilometers between the ocean and the Andes Mountains and only 500 kilometers between the desert and forests.”

Despite tremendous potential the industry remains in initial stages of development.  According to Lyng adventure tourism operators face one monumental trial in the upcoming years.

“The most pressing challenge is to develop these types of tourism activities in new places, to go to the still unexplored areas that are waiting to be discovered,” he said. “We must seek out these places, travelling in a way that does not harm the environment, providing the highest levels of safety and offering experiences of high quality.”

As one of the world’s longest countries, populations in Chile are concentrated around its central belt. This leaves miles and miles of uncharted terrain at Chile’s extremities, deep into the forests of south central Chile, the barren deserts of northern Chile, or the glaciers, lakes and mountains of Patagonia.

The international extreme athletic circuit has recognized Chile’s potential for rugged outdoor adventure in events like the Atacama Crossing, the Patagonia Expedition Race, or the Whitewater Grand Prix. More mainstream tourism, however, that truly takes advantage of all of Chile’s outdoor potential, is soon to follow.