Chile: The Rough Guide

Chile: The Rough Guide

Paperback(1st Edition)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781858284101
Publisher: DK Publishing, Inc.
Publication date: 07/01/1900
Series: Rough Guides Travel Series
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 512
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.74(h) x 0.78(d)

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Where to go: some highlights
Given the country's great size, and the huge distances that separate the main attractions, it's important to give careful thought to your itinerary before you go. If you want to experience both the northern and southern extremes (highly rewarding), you should invest in an air pass, unless you're prepared to spend many hours sitting on a bus, or are in the country for an extended period. Otherwise, most visitors with just two or three weeks to play with tend to choose between heading north or south from Santiago, even then singling out a few chosen targets, rather than trying to fit everything in. Something else to bear in mind is that, on the whole, Chile's cities are not that exciting, and are best used as a jumping off point to get out into the backcountry. In light of this, you should seriously consider renting a vehicle for at least part of your trip, as public transport to some of the most beautiful areas, including many national parks, is sometimes non-existent. We discuss each region's highlights in greater detail in the chapter introductions; what follows is a brief summary of the attractions of each area.
Santiago, though boasting some fine monuments, museums and restaurants, is not to everyone's taste, with its ceaseless noise and traffic, and heavy pollution, and two or three days here is enough for most visitors. The capital is handy for visiting some of the country's oldest vineyards, while a string of splendid beaches, as well as the romantic port of Valparaso and fashionable resort of Via del Mar, also sit on its doorstep.
North of Santiago, highlights include the handsome colonial city of La Serena, the lush, deeply rural Elqui valley, and another succession of idyllic beaches, all contained within the brittle, semi-arid landscape of the Norte Chico. At the northern edge of this region, the tidy little city of Copiap serves as a springboard for excursions to the white sands and turquoise waters of Baha Inglesa, one of the country's most attractive seaside resorts, and east into the cordillera, where you'll find the mineral-streaked volcanoes of Parque Nacional Nevado de Tres Cruces, and the dazzling Laguna Verde. Further north, the barren Atacama desert, stretching over 1000km into southern Peru, presents an unforgettable, if forbidding, landscape, whose attractions number ancient petroglyphs (indigenous rock art), abandoned nitrate ghost towns and a scattering of fertile, fruit-filled oases. Up in the Andes, the vast plateau known as the altiplano, as high and remote as Tibet, encompasses snow-capped volcanoes, bleached-white salt flats, lakes speckled pink with flamingos, grazing llamas, alpacas and vicuas, tiny white-washed churches, and native Aymara communities. The best points to head for up here are Parque Nacional Lauca, reached from the city of Arica, and Parque Nacional Volcn Isluga, reached from Iquique.
South of Santiago, the chief appeal of the lush Central Valley is its swaths of orchards and vineyards, dotted with stately haciendas, while further south, the famous, much-visited Lake District presents a picture-postcard landscape of perfect, conical volcanoes (including the exquisite Volcn Osorno), iris-blue lakes, rolling pastureland and dense native forests, perfect for hiking. A short ferry ride from Puerto Montt, at the southern edge of the Lake District, the Chilo archipelago is a quiet, rural backwater, famous for its rickety houses on stilts, old wooden churches, and rich local mythology. Back on the mainland, south of Puerto Montt, the Carretera Austral - a 1000km-long unpaved "highway" - carves its way through virgin temperate rainforest, and past dramatic fjords, one of which is the embarkation point for a 200-kilometre boat trip out to the sensational Laguna San Rafael glacier. Beyond the Carretera Austral, cut off by the Campo de Hielo Sur (southern icefields) lies Chilean Patagonia, a country of bleak windswept plains bordered by the magnificent granite spires of the Torres del Paine massif, Chile's single most famous attraction, and a magnet for hikers and climbers. Across the Magellan Strait, Tierra del Fuego sits shivering at the bottom of the world, a remote land of a harsh, desolate beauty.
Finally, there are the two Pacific possessions: the little-visited Isla Robinson Crusoe, part of the Juan Fernndez Archipelago, sporting dramatic volcanic peaks covered with dense vegetation; and remote Easter Island, famed for its mysterious statues and fascinating pre-historic culture.
Administratively, Chile is divided into thirteen regions, numbered one to tweleve (with the addition of the Metropolitan region). We've listed each region by number and name below, followed by the regional capital in parentheses.
I Tarapaca (Iquique)
II Antofagasta (Antofagasta)
III Atacama (Copiapo)
IV Coquimbo (La Serena)
V Valparaiso (Valparaiso)
Metropolitana de Santiago
VI Libertador General O'Higgins (Rancagua)
VII Maule (Talca)
VIII Bo Bo (Concepcin)
IX Araucania (Temuco)
X Los Lagos (Puerto Montt)
XI Aisn ( Coihaique)
XII Magallanes y Antartida Chilena (Punta Arenas)
When to go
The north of the country can be comfortably visited at any time of year, though if you're planning to rent a 4WD and tour the altiplano, note that the unpredictable weather phenomenon known as the Bolivian Winter (or invierno altiplnico) can produce heavy, sporadic rainfall between December and February (the height of summer), washing away roads and disrupting communications.
In the centre and south of the country, you should avoid the months of June to September (unless you plan to go skiing), when heavy snowfall often blocks access to the mountains, including many national parks. The peak summer months are January and February, but as accommodation rates and crowds increase in equal measure, you'd be better off coming in November, December or March, when the weather is often just as good.

Table of Contents

Part One Basics
Getting there from the USA and Canada
Getting there from Britain and Ireland
Getting there from Australia and New Zealand
Red tape and visas
Maps, information and web sites
Costs and money
Getting around
Eating and drinking
Communications - post, phones and email
The media
Opening hours and holidays
Trouble and crime
Sport, entertainment and festivals
National parks and reserves
Crafts and shopping
Part Two The Guide
Chapter 1 Santiago and around
City transport
The city
Drinking and nightlife
The arts and entertainment
Shopping and markets
Cajn de Maipo
Los Andes
Parque Nacional La Campana
Travel details
Chapter 2 Valparaso, Via and the coastal resorts
Via del Mar
Laguna Verde
El Quisco and El Punto de Tralca
Isla Negra
El Tabo
Las Cruces
San Antonio
Rocas de Santo Domingo
Travel details
Chapter 3 El Norte Chico
La Ligua
The coast north of La Ligua
Valle del Encanto
Parque Nacional Fray Jorge
Tongoy and Guanaqueros
La Serena
The Elqui valley
Parque Nacional Nevado de Tres Cruces
Travel details
Chapter 4 El Norte Grande
Parque Nacional Pan de Azcar
North of Antofagasta
Calama and Chuquicamata
San Pedro de Atacama and around
Inland from Iquique
Up to Parque Nacional Volcn Isluga
The Panamericana between Iquique and Arica
Up to Parque Nacional Lauca
Reserva Nacional las Vicuas and the Salar de Surire
Travel details
Chapter 5 The Central Valley
Rancagua and the Rapel valley
San Fernando and the Colchagua valley
Curic and the Mataquito valley
Talca and the Maule valley
Chilln and the Itata valley
Concepcin and the Bo Bo valley
Parque Nacional Laguna del Laja
Parque Nacional Nahuelbuta
Parque Nacional Tolhuaca
The road to Lonquimay
Travel details
Chapter 6 The Lake District
Temuco and around
Parque Nacional Conguillo
Lago Villarrica and around
Parque Nacional Huerquehue
Parque Nacional Villarrica
The Siete Lagos
Valdivia and around
Lago Ranco
Osorno and around
Parque Nacional Puyehue
Lago Rupanco
Lago Llanquihue and around
Parque Nacional Vicente Prez Rosales
Estuario de Reloncav
Puerto Varas
Puerto Montt and around
The road to Chilo
Travel details
Chapter 7 Chilo
Ancud and around
Isla Quinchao
Castro and around
Parque Nacional Chilo, Sector Anay
Isla Lemuy
Travel details
Chapter 8: The Carretera Austral
Parque Nacional Alece Andino and around
Hornopirn and around
Parque Pumaln
Chaitn to Villa Santa Luca
East to Futaleuf
South to Puyuhuapi
Parque Nacional Queulat
Puerto Aisn
San Rafael glacier
Puerto Ibez
Chile Chico
Lago General Carrera
Travel details
Chapter 9 Chilean Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego
Punta Arenas
South of Punta Arenas
East and west of Punta Arenas
North of Punta Arenas
Parque Nacional Pali Aike
Puerto Natales
Parque Nacional Torres del Paine
Tierra del Fuego
Puerto Williams
Travel details
Chapter 10 The Pacific Islands
The Juan Fernndez Archipelago
Isla Robinson Crusoe
Easter Island
Hanga Roa
The southeastern circuit
The northern circuit
Rano Kau and Orongo
Part Three Contexts
Landscape, wildlife and the environment
Chilean music

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