The natural and man-made heritage of Chile is very diverse, also thanks due to the extreme length of the country extending from the driest deserts in the north to the most southern historical inhabited lands of the world in Patagonia.
Highlights of Chile are:
- The magnificent scenery of Patagonian Andes and fjords with snow-capped volcanoes, Araucaria, and alerce stands, thousands of waterfalls, and countless beautiful observation spots.
- The volcanic landscape of Northern and Central Chile with geysers and hot springs.
- Atacama – the driest desert of the world with the unique landscape of quebradas – deep canyons with oases that contain unique biological, archaeological, and architectural heritage.
Map with the described wonders of Chile
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Top 25 wonders of Chile
Torres del Paine
Magallanes and Antártica Chilena
Three knife-formed cliffs rising with vertical walls more than 1,000 – 1,400 m high and offer one of the most impressive sights in Patagonian Andes.
A large geyser field with at least 85 active geysers erupting up to 6 m high. The field is especially impressive in the early morning. At least 100 geysers and 30 perpetual spouters have been active here in historical times.
One of the highest waterfalls in Chile and possibly – one of the most beautiful waterfalls worldwide. The water originates from the base of Ventisquero Colgante glacier and falls more than 350 m high with a single plunge. This is a rare sight, as above this giant waterfall towers a wall of blue glaciers.
The driest place in the world without any signs of life. Only a few specific microorganisms – extremophiles – are present here. Some areas are rich with nitrates – easily soluble minerals that in other circumstances are consumed by organisms. Here rich nitrate deposits have been formed from atmospheric nitrogen, possibly by lightning.
Arica and Parinacota
Bright red lake fed by hot springs, 40 – 50 °C warm, with travertine formations around the lake. Nearby also yellow and green lakes. Lakes are located at 3,700 m above sea level.
Unique geological formation – peninsula consisting of pure marble in the beautiful Lago General Carrera has been eroded by the lake water, forming caves, mushroom formations, and tunnels in the marble.
Large, 2,860 m tall volcano that has an intermittent lava lake in its 50 m wide craters. The summit of the volcano is permanently covered with snow and glaciers.
Madre de Dios Island
Magallanes and Antártica Chilena
One of the world’s most impressive limestone karst areas. Most active karst processes in the world are thanks to a high amount of precipitation as well as wind action. Magnificent, otherworldly landscapes, enormous caves.
Ojos del Salado
The highest volcano in the world, 6,891 m tall. It contains also a crater lake at 6,390 m height – possibly the highest lake in the world.
Puchuldiza geyser field
Here in the 1970s – 1980s were observed four – five geysers reaching up to 4 m high. In the 1990s the activity of geysers was damaged by drilling but at least one geyser is active here next to several perpetual spouters.
One of the most impressive impact craters in South America, created by a meteorite some 660,000 years ago. 350 – 370 m wide, up to 34 m deep.
A beautiful valley surrounded by up to 1,000 m tall granite cliffs. Valley is covered with impressive primeval temperate rainforests with enormous trees.
Temperate forest with a unique level of endemism – out of 211 local plant species 132 are endemic – e.g. met only on this island. The dense forest is formed from trees that are not met anywhere else. Hundreds of endemic species of insects.
Magallanes and Antártica Chilena
In this cave were found remnants of the giant ground sloth (Mylodon darwini) and several more extinct South American animals.
Temperate forest of Alexander Selkirk Island
Beautiful forest with a high number of endemic plants. In total there are 120 endemic plants (one of the highest degrees of endemism in the world), including large trees, tree ferns, and palms. This unique ecosystem provides important knowledge about plant evolution. Especially impressive is the pure stand of the endemic tree-fern Dicksonia externa south of Cerro de los Innocentes.
Archaeological wonders of Chile
Group of geoglyphs formed by dark stones. Geoglyphs show a group of llamas and were made roughly in 1000 AD.
Inca shrine on Cerro El Plomo
Ancient Inca shrines at the height of 5,170 m and 5,400 m – one of the highest archaeological monuments of the world. Here was found a well-preserved mummy of a boy buried here some 500 years ago as well as jewelry and figurines. Sanctuary consists of two parts – one is a round stone platform, and another consists of three rectangular stone settings. Boy was sacrificed in a ceremony called "Capacocha".
Gigante de Atacama on Cerro Unita
This is the largest geoglyph in Chile – an 86 m (115 m?) high anthropomorphic figure that was made around 1000 – 1400 AD. Cerro Unita contains more geoglyphs.
Pukará de Quitor
A fortified ancient city of pre-Inca and Inca. Contains more than 160 structures built of stones and adobe, enclosed with a fortification wall. Built in the 12th century, taken by Spaniards in 1540.
Architecture wonders of Chile
A picturesque, once prosperous port city with countless historical buildings on steep hillsides. In the city still operate 4 – 10 historical funiculars.
La Moneda Palace
Palace was built in 1784 – after 1805. This harmonious Classicism building has played a great role in the history of Chile. It experienced partial destruction in 1973 during the coup d’état and later – construction of underground passages for the possible escape of General Augusto Pinochet.
Santa Maria church in Achao
The oldest of the unique churches of Chiloé, built around 1740. Wooden structure unites local and European art traditions and has been built without a single nail. Ornate Baroque interiors.
Isluga church and village
Unique Altiplano church located at 3,800 m above sea level. The church was built in the 17th century in a place that is sacred to the Aymara people. It is located in uninhabited village that is used only in the case of religious festivities.
Up to 102 m high, 350 m long iron viaduct for the railway, built in 1890.
DK’s insider travel tips and essential local information will help you discover the best of Chile and Easter Island, from festivals and markets to gorgeous beaches and national parks. Experience the Tapati festival, explore the spectacular Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in Chilean Patagonia, or simply take in the most transparent skies in the southern hemisphere.
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