If you’re lucky enough to be travelling in Chile over the northern hemisphere’s winter holidays, you need to plan your time carefully. Chile is big – not in overall area, but in length. It’s the longest country north-to-south in the world. And that means an enormous variety of climates and landscapes to visit.
Here is This is Chile’s guide to some of the top spots for winter sun.
Wine and relaxation in the Casablanca Valley
The perfect stopover on your way from Santiago to Chile’s jagged Pacific coast, the Casablanca Valley is the home of the country’s premium white wines, like Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, as well as reds like Pinot Noir and Syrah. Vineyards include Casas del Bosque, Emiliana, Morandé and many more, offering tours and tastings in the pleasant, not-too-hot climate of the valley. There are hotels and two-day tours for those who want to spend a bit of extra time there, though it’s an easy day trip from both Santiago and Valparaíso/Viña del Mar. More information at the Casablanca Valley website.
Lakeside camping at Lago Todos Los Santos
Lago Todos Los Santos is a brilliant aquamarine jewel resting amongst the mountains and valleys of the Chilean Lake District. Though easily accessible, it’s a good two-hour drive through farmland and national park from the nearest town, pretty Puerto Varas. And if you were impressed by your first Chilean lake (the gorgeous Llanquihue, right by Puerto Varas and overlooked by the conical Osorno Volcano), Todos Los Santos will take your breath away. The water is turquoise blue, the shores forested and untouched, the horizon peppered by snow-topped volcanoes. Camping is available on sandy beaches where the one access road meets the small tourist center and jetty – a perfect base for sunbathing, hikes and trips out onto the water.
Beach paradise at Zapallar
If you´re looking for some luxurious down-time, consider a splurge at beautiful Zapallar, 50 miles (80 km) north of Valparaíso. Zapallar is one of Chile´s most exclusive resorts, with its hills and small bays creating a pleasant, warm micro-climate. It boasts two long, sandy beaches, Chico and Largo, as well as well-kept gardens, tall, sweeping trees and a charming stone church. A path runs along the coast to neighboring Cachagua, where you can visit the Penguin Island marine wildlife reserve.