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Soak up South American sun on a Chile trekking holiday

Friday, 27 April 2012 10:54 AM

For the chance to bask in South American sunshine while embarking on challenging - yet rewarding - hikes, there is nothing like a trekking holiday in Chile. By heading to the country you'll pass through a diverse range of landscapes, from volcanoes to deserts, that will make for plenty of exciting adventures in an exotic climate.

Although there are many amazing places to explore, deciding where exactly to go can be a tricky. However, booking a tailor made break in Chile means you have the freedom to see the sights that interest you the most, as well as make the most of local support when you need it. Incorporating any of the following places into your trip will certainly make for a wonderful trip and leave you with memories that will last long after your tan has faded.

Atacama Desert

Despite its name - and the fact it's the second driest place on the planet - the Atacama Desert isn't just vast stretches of sand and unbearably hot temperatures. In fact, it's much milder then many other deserts, which makes the sunshine all the more enjoyable, and it contains a diverse array of terrain, including volcanoes and salt mountains.

Take to the peaks that surround the pretty oasis town of San Pedro for the chance to experience hiking at extremely high altitudes. Some mountains here are more than 6,000 m above sea level and you'll not only be provided with panoramic views of the desert as you walk, but may also be able to see as far as Argentina and Bolivia.

One of the must-see attractions in the area is the Tatio geysers, which is one of the biggest geothermal fields in the world. Spend a few hours watching the geysers shoot steaming jets of water into the air, before taking a trip to the nearby Puritama hot springs for a refreshing dip and the chance to soak up the sun.

Torres del Paine National Park

Among the most popular destinations for walking holidays in Chile is the Torres del Paine National Park. Situated in the country's Patagonia territory, this protected reserve measures some 180,000 hectares and encompasses a vast array of natural landmarks, including tranquil lakes and glaciers.

The best way to get an appreciation of the diverse landscapes is by taking a circuit trek. Walking the route sees you go through the park's northern wilderness sections, passing Laguna Azul, Nordenskiold Lake and Paso John Gardner, the summit of which is more than 1,210 m above sea level. One landmark you certainly can't miss is the mountains that the park is named after, as each peak in the range of granite monoliths is more than 2,000 m tall.

Although the fantastic scenery is what draws many people's interest, it's also worth looking for some of the diverse wildlife that lives here. The ringed kingfisher, Andean condor and guanaco are just three of the wonderful animals that can be spotted as you hike along the well-maintained network of trails.

Chilean Lake District

While visiting the Chilean Lake District offers the chance for you to see beautiful stretches of water, it's the numerous volcanoes the area is home to that will really capture your interest. Among these is the snow-capped Osorno and Villarica, with the latter offering wonderful views of the Andes as you reach the 2,600 m summit. If you're in luck, you might even see molten lava bubbling in the crater.

Other highlights of the region include the Alerce Andino National Park - home to some of the oldest trees on the planet - and Chiloe Island, where you'll see traditional fishermen's homes built on stilts.

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