Being the longest country in the world with 2,647 miles of land, it is easy to miss some of Chile’s most stunning attractions. If you are looking for a country where you can enjoy art, music, history, and nature, this is the perfect country to add to your list! There is something for everyone to enjoy in this large and welcoming country. Below are some of the few hidden gems that people may forget to visit while they’re south of the equator.
1. Los Chinchorros
The Chinchorros were an indigenous community located in northern Chile in the Atacama Desert. Their practice of mummification is considered the oldest in the world, surpassing Egyptian mummies by nearly 2,000 years. You can learn more about the mummies by visiting the Museo Universidad de Tarapacá San Miguel de Azapa on the outskirts of Arica, Chile, where they have over 200 mummies on display
2. Atacama Desert
The Atacama is the driest place in the world. There is plenty to do in this vast desert, including sandboarding, stargazing, floating in salty lagoons, and watching geysers erupt from the ground. Visiting the Atacama Desert is for those who like to steer off the beaten path and experience nature in an almost untampered environment. There is plenty of wildlife as well, and visitors report seeing llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, chinchillas, and flamingos while they’re participating on tours. Some may experience symptoms of altitude sickness, but a little cocoa tea and taking your time on physical activity should limit those effects.
3. Museo de la Memoria y Los Derechos Humanos
This museum is located in the capital of Santiago and is dedicated to those who have been affected by human rights violations during the Pinochet Regime. It chronologically lays out the events, from the bombings of La Moneda (the presidential palace) on September 11, 1973 up until the “No” vote in 1988. Audio guides are available for those who do not speak Spanish. There is no photography allowed in the museum, and it does require its own trigger warning as it is not for the faint of heart. However, if you would like to understand a bit of Chile’s modern history, it is definitely worth the trip.
4. La Patagonia
A common misconception when thinking about South America is that most of the continent is warm; and while this is true for the northern half of the continent, the southern half boasts untouched arctic beauty. La Patagonia, which encompasses both southern Chile and Argentina, is considered to be one of the cleanest places in the world. In this region, you can go on 5-day hikes viewing various glaciers, take a cruise to nearby Antarctica, visit La Tierra del Fuego, or watch penguin colonies in Punta Arenas!
5. Artists of Chile
Chile is known for producing some of the most influential artists in Latin America. There are museums dedicated to literary writers as well as musicians, most of whom won notoriety for their participation in the Chilean Nueva Canción movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Poet Pablo Neruda has two museums - one in Santiago and another in Valparaiso - while singer-songwriter Violeta Parra has a museum in Santiago. Nobel Prize winner Gabriela Mistral has a museum dedicated to her in Vicuña, Chile. Due to the importance of literature and music in Chilean culture, you may come across artistic freestyle “battles” from grassroots poets and musicians called payadores trying to outwit their opponents.
Gisselle Arce is the Resource Area Manager for the Study Abroad Office. She studied abroad in Seville, Spain, when she was an undergraduate student. After she graduated, she spent 5 months teaching English in Chile and then interning in Spain before joining Team SAO!