Chile Driving Ideas Guide
Chile is a country of startling contrasts and extreme beauty, with attractions ranging from the towering volcanic peaks of the Andes to the ancient forests of the Lake District, and plenty of opportunities for fine adventure travel.
Although just 175km wide, Chile stretches 4300km along the South American continent, reaching from the driest desert on earth to vast southern glacial fields. The extremely diverse landscapes include parched dunes, fertile valleys, volcanoes, ancient forests, massive glaciers and fjords, all making for fascinating travel experiences.
Santiago, the capital, anchors the northern and more prosperous section of the central valley, while the lush Lake District to the south is the homeland of Chile's indigenous peoples, the Araucanians.
Travel in Chile is surprisingly easy, if you don't rush it, and doing it by rental car offers unparalleled opportunities for discovery. One thing that stands out is the hospitality of the Chileans and you will be greeted by locals everywhere you go.
Vineyards and valleys - driving Santiago and beyond
Santiago, the capital of Chile, is a large and modern city and the central point of a region filled with attractive sites and activities. The main South American ski centres are only 60 km away, and it is a mere hour's drive to the beautiful beaches of the Pacific to the northwest. Just south of Santiago lie the rich and beautiful vineyards of the Maipo Valley.
The city is halved by the Rio Mapocho River. Below the northern boundary of the river you will find all the major museums, monuments, and architectural sights the city offers. At the very heart of Santiago is the Plaza de Armas, which lies along the Alameda about five blocks south of the river.
Finding beautiful beaches and the 'Garden City' of Vina del Mar in Central Chile
A mere 120km from Santiago, you can explore the coastal towns of Central Chile on a leisurely drive. The road winds along the central coastal areas through the wine producing valleys of Curacavi and Casablanca. From there the road takes you directly to the coast where you can spend a morning on the beaches of Renaca and explore the town of Vina del Mar.
After a local lunch you can continue driving to the bohemian and picturesque port town of Valparaiso. Built in the 16th-century on a total of 43 hills, it is reached by narrow windy streets, staircases and a series of lifts (funiculars). The Pablo Neruda Museum situated on one of the hills overlooking the bay, offers fantastic sea views. You might even want to overnight at Valparaiso, to experience more of this beautiful area.
Driving Chile's Famed Highway - the Carretera Austral
Chile's extraordinary elongated geography as a country means it enjoys a phenomenal variety in its landscapes. One the most incredible and awe-inspiring sections is the stretch of Chile's Patagonian region typified by vast lakes, splintered fjords, glaciers, fierce rivers, lush evergreen forests, rolling pampas plains and national parks: all of it served by the famed Route 7 or better known as the Carretera Austral.
The highway stretches a total of 200 km from Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins. Though most of the trip involves gravel, winding curves and unpredictable weather, the rewards are enormous. It is no exaggeration to say that each kilometre offers picture-perfect vistas. The impressive hanging glacier at the Queulat National Park is a great location for a photo to share. Opportunities for fishing, kayaking, rafting and other adventure sports are abundant along the way. Or simply drive to the end of the highway and enjoy the landscapes of Villa O’Higgins.
Chile is a naturally diverse country with a lot to offer and we believe you should spend time doing more, by spending less. To find the best deals and choices for rental cars in Chile and accommodation in Chile you need not look further than Cheaperthancars and Cheaperthanhotels.
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- Antofagasta - Cerro Moreno - Airport
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- Castro - Mocopulli - Airport
- Concepcion - Carriel Sur - Airport
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- La Serena - La Florida - Airport
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- Puerto Montt - El Tepual - Airport
- Punta Arenas - C.ibanez Del Campo - Airport
- Santiago - Arturo Merino Benitez - Airport
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