Chile's strange shape is just the beginning of its allure. This long, skinny country along the southwest coast of South America is known for its extreme geographic variety, comforting hospitality, nightlife and the best astronomy in the Southern Hemisphere.
Chile's culture is rooted in the ancient Incan empire, and infused with Spanish influence. Its population is a melting pot of indigenous tribes, "Mestizos" (European and Amerindian), French, Germans, Italians, Palestinians and other ethnicities from around the world. Take a jet charter to Chile and experience this affluent, richly cultured country for yourself.
Must See: Santiago, Chile' capital city and the largest in the country, is a pulsating metropolis filled with restaurants, museums, events, bars, hotels and more. It's the perfect place to stay upon taking a jet charter to Chile, and is also a convenient starting point for travel to other must-see sites.
The Andes Mountains are one of these other must-sees. The mountain range forms a wall along Chile's eastern border and includes more than 50 active volcanoes. You can hit the slopes during winter, or take a hike through the beautiful mountain landscape during summer. The Andes also have hot springs year-round. Relax your muscles after a long hike, or warm up during a winter chill.
Lodging: High-class hotels are limited to Santiago. Other cities in Chile also have comfortable accommodations, but you may have to shop around to find the best lodging for you. One of the most sophisticated and intriguing options is Alto Atacama Desert Lodge in the Atacama Desert. This luxury hotel and spa sits at the foot of the Andes, 8,000 feet above sea level. It's a desert oasis that features six swimming pools, incredible construction (adobe-and-thatch lodges), star-gazing opportunities, and professionally guided excursions of all kinds.
If you would rather stay closer to the city of Santiago, your best bet is The Aubrey, a traditional mansion with a chic, luxurious interior. Rooms feature large LCD televisions, feather duvets, and free WiFi. The hotel is located in Santiago's fun, bohemian Bellavista neighborhood and situates you close to the city's hottest spots.
Ground Transportation: One main paved road called the Pan-American Highway (Panamericana) runs the length of Chile, from the country's northern border with Peru to the southern port city of Puerto Montt. Many popular destinations lie further south than Puerto Montt, but these areas only have gravel roads and often require special transportation, such as a ferry ride. If you want to visit sites here, be sure to plan your trip in advance.
Recommended Books: The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende (1982). Allende's debut novel was an instant best-seller. It remains a popular novel for its telling description of Chilean history and culture, in addition to its academic value as a representation of magical realism.
Allende's story spans four generations as she tells this Chilean family saga through the eyes of two women in the family. Read the book before your jet charter to Chile for an overarching look into post-colonial Chile, as well as the country's political and social progress over the decades.
Currency: The Chilean peso is the local currency.
Calling Code Chile: 011 + 56 + phone number (may begin with 0; landlines are 8 or 9 digits, cell phones are 9 digits)
Best Travel Dates and Packing Tips: Chile has a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. Pack cool clothing and a swimsuit for the beach. If you plan to trek through the Andes Mountains, make sure to pack snow clothes and good hiking shoes.
The best time to visit Chile mostly depends on your desired activities. Some summer destinations, like the Lakes District and Torres del Paine, cannot be reached during the winter months (June through September). Winter is a good time, however, to plan a Chilean ski trip.