Chile in Pictures: 15 Beautiful Places to Photograph
Few countries offer the chance to hike a glacier, trek to the top of a volcano, visit the driest desert on Earth, and experience some of the greatest biodiversity on the planet - and to do it all within a few kilometers of each other. The photography possibilities are as diverse as the landscape
Chile is separated from Argentina by the Andes, the longest continental mountain range in the world. And one of the most mysterious islands in the world, Easter Island, sits just a few kilometers off the coast of Chile. With so much to see and explore, it's no wonder Chile is one of the most stunning destinations in South America. See more of the country in pictures with our list of beautiful places to photograph.
1. Torres del Paine National Park
Sitting at the heart of Patagonia, Torres del Paine is home to glaciers, icy rivers and lakes, and towering mountains covered in subpolar forests. A rugged landscape of icy lakes and soft glaciers makes this is a perfect destination for hiking and boating. The park has some of the best hiking trails in Chile. You may see guanacos, pumas, and foxes, which are the most common mammals in the park.
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2. Mano del Desierto
The 11-meter-tall iron and concrete hand stands as one of the most distinctive sights in the Atacama Desert. Sitting at an altitude of 1,100 meters above sea level, along a dusty highway, the sculpture is meant to represent human helplessness.
3. Miscanti Lake
Deep blue and arrowhead-shaped Miscanti Lake is a slightly saline lake in northern Chile. Miscanti Lake sits against a background of mountains, including the towering 5,622-meter-tall Cerro Miscanti. The average annual temperature is just over two degrees Celsius, and the surface of the lake is often covered in a shimmering, thin layer of ice in winter.
4. Rano Raraku, Easter Island
Easter Island, just off the coast of Chile, is stunning in its own right - but the Rano Raraku volcanic crater tops it all. Most of the stone used to build the statues on Easter Island comes from the quarry in this area. Just outside the quarry, a number of moai - monolithic human figures - buried up to their shoulders stand guard.
5. Carretera Austral
Chile's Route 7 is best known as "carretera austral" (southern highway). The road runs through Patagonia for 1,240 kilometers, and traveling the entire length of it requires three ferry rides in addition to lots of driving. Much of the road remains unpaved, flanked by forests, glaciers, and towering mountains.
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6. National Park Laguna San Rafael
Laguna San Rafael National Park covers over 17,000 square kilometers and is home to the Northern Patagonian Ice Field, the second largest mass of ice outside the Poles. The fjord at the edge of the park is home to dolphins, seals, and sea lions.
7. The Atacama Desert
The Atacama Desert is the driest nonpolar desert in the world. It extends over 1,000 kilometers of dusty, stony terrain that's very similar to the soil of Mars. Atacama's otherworldly appearance makes it a favorite of NASA, which often tests space equipment here.
8. National Park Huerquehue
Chile's most famous trekking destination is so for a reason: icy mountain lakes, plenty of waterfalls, and well-marked trails are everywhere. Wild camping is allowed, and those ready to chase adventure can try climbing the park's highest peaks: Araucano at 2,000 meters and San Sebastian at 1,800 meters. From the top, open views of the river valleys, canyons, and green hills abound.
9. Elqui Valley
The Elqui Valley is a popular destination for astronomers and UFO chasers and one of the best places in South America to watch the stars due to its isolation and cloud-free skies. The valley sees over 320 days of sunshine a year with little rain.
10. Marble Caves
Accessible only by boat, the marble caves are a 6,000-year-old stunning sight of swirling blues. The caves are located in a glacial lake, whose azure waters reflect on the cave's walls and cause the famous blue hues. Between September and February (the hottest months), as the ice melts, the color's almost turquoise.
11. Puritama Hot Springs
Located deep in a canyon in the Atacama Desert, the eight pools that make up the geothermal Puritama Hot Springs have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Archeological sites and waterfalls surround the area and attract outdoor lovers year-round.
12. Villarrica Volcano
Located right against a clear blue lake, Villarrica is one of Chile's most active volcanoes. A much-loved destination for outdoor enthusiasts, Villarrica offers excellent climbing in summer and skiing in winter (July to September). For a closer look at the action, it's possible to take a helicopter ride over the active crater.
13. Saltos del Laja
The Laja Falls (technically translated as the "Laja jumps") are a group of four horseshoe-shaped waterfalls that sit next to each other with a total width of 455 meters. The waterfalls roar down into a rocky canyon and transform into rapids.
14. Ojos del Caburgua
Deep in the jungle and surrounded by thick vegetation, the striking 15-meter-tall waterfall isn't even the main attraction here. It's the two deep-blue natural pools down below, perfect for swimming, that attract all the attention. Long wooden walkways crisscross around and over the water for closer views.
15. Puerto Natales
Once a quiet fishing port, the town of Puerto Natales has become a popular tourist destination because of its picturesque surroundings. Fjords, thick forests, and blue glaciers form the gateway to trekking in Torres del Paine national park, just minutes away.