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4300kms long and averaging only 180kms wide, Chile must have the strangest, most unwieldy shape of any country. The narrow strip of land between the Andes and the Pacific ranges from the wild and rugged Tierra del Fuego, through the verdant lake district of northern Patagonia, the Mediterranean climate around Santiago to the northern deserts around Arica, the driest place in the world.

After a Santiago pitstop, our South America journey began in earnest in Punta Arenas, the most southerly town of any consequence in Chile. Puerto Williams lies further south, but one suspects its only raison d’être is to wrest the title “most southerly town in the world” from the Argentine town of Ushuaia, which lies a dozen or so kilometres north of Puerto Williams. In Punta Arenas we got our first real exposure to the desolate emptiness of the Patagonian plains, and visited a colony of Magellanes penguins.

The majestic Torres del Paine is an essential stop for any visitor to Patagonia, and we spent a week in the area trekking and climbing. Renowned for its hurricane force winds and torrential downpours at any time of the year, we were implausibly lucky and had blue skies and bright sun for almost our entire stay.

Back in Santiago we had time to explore the city without a fog of jetlag, and soak up the colonial ambience, before heading north to Valparaiso. Valparaiso is one of the most romantic cities we’ve ever visited. Set on a cluster of steep hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this thriving port town oozes character and charm from every pore. The creaking ascensors that carry you up hills, the giddily inclined cobbled streets switchbacking their way up, the buzzing fruit and veg markets and the flourishing waiters in little cafés that seemed not to have changed in decades – we were captivated.

Our final Chilean destinations were the beach city of La Serena, where we spent Christmas, the high altitude desert oasis of San Pedro de Atacama, where we partied in the New Year, and nearby Socaire Gorge, where we tested our lungs and limbs rock climbing at 3600m.

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Picture of penguins mating, Chile Travelogues
Photograph of Barbara hiking in Torres del Paine Chile Travelogues
Tongue tied in South America (21-25 Oct)
Hiking at Torres del Paine (3 Nov)

Picture of the gang in Torres del Paine Chile Travelogues
Photograph of our bar in Torres del Paine Chile Travelogues
Climbing at Torres del Paine (5 Nov)
Camping at Torres del Paine (4-7 Nov)

Picture of Caelen in Valparaiso Chile Travelogues
Photograph of Caelen and Sandro in Santiago Chile Travelogues
Relaxing and enjoying Valparaiso (3-6 Dec) Living it up in Santiago (6-13 Dec)
Picture of Christmas in La Serena - chile travelogues
Christmas in La Serena (25 Dec) Truck days (26-27 Dec)

Picture of the Hot Rock truck at Socaire - Chile Travelogues

Camping at Socaire (28 Dec - 3 Jan)