The extreme differences featured by Chile’s landscape, biodiversity and culture from north to south, are truly amazing: Desert coast and highland in the north, Mediterranean climate wine-producing valleys in the center, and breathtaking pristine Patagonia to the south… plus Antarctica, offshore South America.
On this occasion, we would like to showcase our latest collection of selected encounters, accommodations, and experiences we have recently found looking deep into Chile’s kaleidoscopic territory. Read on and join us in a north-to-south discovery of some of Chile’s gleaming treasures, fresh from our latest R&D.
NORTH – Treasures in the Desert
The Atacama Desert is the gateway to Chile in the north. The colors and shapes of its desolate landscapes are second to none and have often been compared to the surface of the moon. Nevertheless, life flourishes around the presence of water within the dry territory. Our walkthrough begins in San Pedro de Atacama, the world-famous oasis in the desert highlands. There, we discovered Casa Luna, a family house where guests will feel at home in the driest desert in the world, and where its hosts are committed to offering travelers unparalleled personalized service, which stands out together with the peace and coziness of its many different corners. Then further to the south, and westward to the desert shore itself, in Bahía Salado, we find one-of-a-kind luxury glamping Wara Nómade, designed by @wara_hotel owner Susana Aranguiz. Fall asleep listening to the sound of the cool, clear, emerald waves crashing only a few feet away from the comfort of your king-sized bed inside your en-suite safari-style tent on a beautiful beach in the desert.
And when it comes to what to do in the desert, we have some must-do experiences both in the water and on the dunes. El Medanoso dunes (the highest in Latin America) are the perfect setting to enjoy both sunrise and sunset with a sumptuous picnic – and cocktail too! – prepared with the finest local produce. See how the shapes and colors of the dunes change under the journey of the sun through the desert sky, while you enjoy an improvised dining site on the soft Medanoso sands. Then, if waters call our adventurous spirit, we may well head to Chañaral de Aceituno, to engage in some diving and mind-blowing whale watching (among the many other species that are permanent dwellers in the area). Later, back from the water, travelers may enjoy some fine mouthwatering seafood straight from the Pacific Ocean and into their plates… a well-rounded treat in the desert.
CENTER – Andes, Ocean & Wine
There may be no more highlands in the center, but there are loads of mountain, valley, and beach fun to enjoy. In Santiago, the metropolitan capital city of Chile, we are only minutes away both from the Andes, from the coast, and from world-class wine-making lands; so, we have chosen places and activities to enjoy all of the previous. Our first star in the region is Casa Primal, a sui generis “hand-made” hotel built by using recycled materials and sustainable construction techniques. Located in Cajón del Maipo, an Andean canyon in the Metropolitan region, the hotel was devised, built and, at present day, hosted by the Herrera-Andrade Astorga family, who transformed their late grandfather’s house to build the hotel. Further down south on the coast, in the commune of Arauco, but still in the central part of the country, is Puerto Viejo Hotel, perched on the hills that overlook the wild Pacific Ocean. The outstanding view from really everywhere in the hotel makes it our treasure on the Central Chilean coast.
To get your heart pumping, we recommend “Waterfall of the Spirits”, the direct translation of “Cascada de las Ánimas”, a Nature Sanctuary from which travelers can venture along up to 9.4 kilometers of thrilling rafting in the Maipo River, only 50 kilometers from Santiago.
In the same Canyon, but further up the mountains, travelers can enjoy the central Andes backcountry at the fullest. Dos Tiempos, the first snowmobile operator in the country, offers access to world-class snowmobiling deep in the Central Andes (early July to Mid-September). Additionally, you can let yourself be led into the wine country on a Bike-Wine-&-Dine Journey created by VM Elite with private chef Patricio Cáceres and private sommelier Marcelo Pino, where you may pedal on state-of-the-art e-bikes among the vines or from vineyard to vineyard, between carefully curated meals.
SOUTH – Wild & Full of Wonders
The abundance of riches and treasures buried in the depths of the Patagonian landscapes seems unlimited. Snow-capped mountains, rivers, lakes, fjords, islands, glaciers, pumas and other big mammals and birds, numerous gorgeous national parks, and a human population only scarcely scattered throughout nature.
The area is really full of gems to boast of, but the following are some of our latest finds that are too fine not to mention. Set on the banks of the Palena River, in the northern part of Patagonia, we find Río Palena Lodge, one of the nine luxury lodges world-renowned adventure travel company Eleven Experience has set up around the world. The place is not only magnificent, offering, of course, world-class fly fishing (plus other kinds of fun), but it also includes incredible personalized service and cuisine and drinks, from sunrise to sunset. Rincón Bonito is a project nestled in the heart of Ventisquero Valley in Cochamó. It is a mountain refuge – that offers both lodge and glamping accommodation – surrounded by late Douglas Tompkins Pumalín National Park and Hornopirén National Park, and therefore enveloped by natural beauty. Further down south and right next to Torres del Paine National Park we find Estancia Baguales, a glamping project that consists of four equipped domes and a ranching post to cook, enjoy mealtimes, unwind and plan the many activities that may be enjoyed in the area… nature rarely seems closer than this! At a similar latitude, Tres Hermanos is a full-blown Patagonian “Estancia” ranch located on the Magellan steppe. There travelers will discover the real life within a Patagonian sheep ranch and participate in ranching activities together with real-life “gaucho” cowboys and their sheepdogs. Also neighboring Torres del Paine National Park, right on the shores of Last Hope Sound, is Kau Patagonia, a mostly wood-made seaside lodge that offers breathtaking end-of-the-world views of glorious nature from all of its rooms.
To begin with our hand-picked must-do experiences in the south, we have chosen a cruise around the magical Chiloe Archipelago on board beautiful Alba, a traditionally made 66-foot wooden motorboat. Guests on Alba will get to enjoy all of the distinctive features offered by Chiloe: mythology, iconic wooden churches and stilt houses, Humboldt penguin breeding grounds, and the passage of blue whales along its shores. A little further southeast, Río Palena Lodge, Eleven Experience’s remote retreat in Patagonia, offers multiple exciting skiing adventures and a helicopter at the disposal of its guests to reach the perfect locations for the runs of their dreams. An exciting assortment of open bowls, steep couloirs, and mellow glacier runs may well be part of your heli-ski adventure. Then, travelers may engage in a photographic safari to capture unbelievable images of pumas living their best life in the middle of wild nature accompanied by experts in the feat of capturing intimate moments of these lovely animals. A second safari experience we think is absolute gold, is a whale-watching kayaking experience in Francisco Coloane Marine Park while taking in the cool breeze of the area. Many kinds of cetaceans and Magellan penguins are part of the wildlife seen both by ship and paddling in this area of the so-called “Land of Fire”. Lastly, travelers will fly over the area on a helicopter looking for the southernmost trout and salmon fishing grounds of choice… a special treat for professional and amateur anglers who will be perfectly cared and catered for throughout the experience.
So much more to come…
In a country like Chile, with so much more to discover, R&D is the name of the game. Part of the drive that keeps us going even in the most difficult of times, is our passion for Research & Development and everything it implies: knowing new places, meeting extraordinary pioneers and visionaries, and then wanting to share all of it with travelers who crave for deeper contact with nature, different cultures, and themselves. We invite you to stay tuned to our never-ending quest for novelties at www.vmelite.com and IG: @vmelitetravel