“People are buzzing about Chile,” said the secretary of Britain’s Latin American Travel Association, Claire Antell, during a telephone conversation with This Is Chile.
Young people from Britain, Europe and the United States are turning to Chile as an ideal destination for gap years, taking advantage of its dramatic geography, easily navigable travel services and abundant work, volunteer and language-learning opportunities. Bordering other popular destinations like Argentina and Peru, Chile is carving out its own place as a top destination for backpackers and students taking a gap year between school and college.
A key resource offered by Chile is the opportunity to study Spanish at one of the country’s language institutes or universities. “Spanish is an increasingly popular language for people in Britain, Europe and the United States” says Richard Oliver, Chief Executive of gap year organizer Year Out Group. Institutes and Universities in cities throughout the country offer short and long term language opportunities for those interested in using a gap year to improve language skills through total immersion.
Work and volunteer positions also attract people pursuing gap years. “Chile has useful volunteer and service work still to be done,” Mr. Oliver says, also indicating the country’s reputation for safety as a deciding factor for Chile over other Latin American destinations.
The successes of initiatives at home and overseas have also done much to generate notice from potential visitors abroad. Last month’s rescue of 33 miners in the north had the eyes of the world on Chile, while the growing success of Chilean wines overseas has raised the country’s profile amongst wine buffs.
In the end, of course, the diversity of travel opportunities in Chile is one of the country’s most important draws. Stunning scenery, from clear skies over the northern deserts to southern ice fields and towering Andean peaks, all connected by comfortable buses and reasonable flights, offer experiences for every kind of traveler.