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Archive for chile

A Rise to the Top in Santiago

By Linda Tancs

In Santiago, Chile, you’ll find the highest man-made observation tower in South America and the second tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere (nearly 1,000 feet) at Gran Torre Santiago. The skyscraper’s observation deck, Sky Costanera, opened last summer on the 61st and 62nd floors to amazing views of La Moneda Palace, the National Stadium and the Mapocho River, which divides the capital city in two. The lookouts are open every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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Chile’s Storied Island

By Linda Tancs

Out of the three islands comprising the Juan Fernández Archipelago (so named for Spanish navigator Juan Fernández), Robinson Crusoe Island has a storied past—in the literary sense. Aside from the navigator and his sojourn in the 1500s, the only other visitor to the island over the centuries was Scottish seaman Alexander Selkirk, who was abandoned there for several years in the early 1700s. His adventures are commonly believed to have inspired Daniel Defoe’s novel, Robinson Crusoe. Sparsely populated today, it is administratively part of Chile and a mecca for scuba diving with visibility extending more than 65 feet. A World Biosphere Reserve, it also reportedly has 61 times more native plant species and 13 times more birds than the Galápagos Islands.

Absolute Desert

By Linda Tancs

The Atacama Desert is a 600-mile strip of land from Peru’s southern border into northern Chile, the driest non-polar desert in the world. So dry, in fact, that some stretches have not seen a drop of rain in over 400 years. But for all its aridity, don’t be fooled into thinking this is just some barren dust bowl; the oasis is teeming with native cultures, soothing hot springs and pluming geysers. That’s particularly true at San Pedro de Atacama, where just a short distance away you’ll also find the largest salt flat in Chile and volcanoes beckoning in the distance. Late June is a perfect time to visit because of the numerous festivals leading up to Saint Peter and Saint Paul Feast Day on 29 June. San Pedro lies at around 7,500 feet above sea level; take precautions against altitude sickness.

Running the Rapids in Chile

By Linda Tancs

Where is the best whitewater in the Western Hemisphere?  Some would say it’s the Futaleufú River in Chile.  The stunning, turquoise-colored river is 65 miles in length, of which 44 miles are in Chile.  With rapids boasting monikers like Throne Room and Terminator, you’re likely in for a white-knuckle ride.

Riding the Circuit in Patagonia

By Linda Tancs

Torres del Paine National Park is a UNESCO biosphere reserve in Chilean Patagonia.  Rich with mountains (particularly the iconic Paine massif), glaciers, lakes and rivers, small wonder the area offers a plethora of activities like fishing, climbing, ice trekking, whitewater kayaking, environmental education and wildlife observation.  The park offers a number of trails, or circuits, for day or overnight trekking.  Those include the Pingo Zapata, Dickson and Grey Glacier circuits (leading to glaciers), the Paine Circuit (no pun intended–an arduous trail requiring seven to 10 days of walking), and Las Torres circuit (leading to the base of Torres del Paine).  Get there via Santiago to Punta Arenas by air or via Puerto Natales overground.

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