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Our commitment to provide a proper duty of care guides everything we do.
World Youth Adventures has an unblemished record in the operation of school & youth adventures.
We will only operate tours in accordance with strict operational standards that have built our reputation as leaders in the student travel industry.
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Three decades of tailoring successful student expeditions adds another dimension to the overall student experience.
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Thanks to careful management and thorough consultation with local partners our track record is exemplary.
Our industry leading risk management procedures have become a skill that we continue to refine.
All of our school group experts are highly trained and experienced consultants who have safety as their number one priority.
Expert leaders, risk assessments, quality inclusions and your financial security all come standard when travelling with World Youth Adventures.
Learn more about our safety practices on our Safety page.
World Youth Adventures is committed to responsible travel and true sustainability.
Well-defined environmental plans exist on every trip within Chile.
At the EcoCamps we use in Patagonia we have procedures in place that include studying, testing, purchasing and installing sustainable green technologies for renewal energy supply, heat insulation and waste management. Our Environmental Management System has been ISO14.001 certified.
Wherever possible we use the services of the local people to support the local economy.
Learn more about our commitment, and view our free Responsible Travel Guidebook, on our Responsible Travel Page
Atacama Desert: This rugged and dramatic landscape enthralls all who travel to discover the diversity of this desert and mountainous region. Your visit should take in the Moon & Death Valley's, Atacama Salt Flats and the geysers at El Tatio which are set beneath a panoramic volcanic backdrop. The Valley of the Moon (also known as the Death Valley) reveals a fantastic moon like landscape that forms part of the Cordillera de la Sal (Salt Mountain Range). Because of the lack of humidity there is no life here, rendering it into one of the most inhospitable places on the planet. An ideal base for your visit to the Atacama San Pedro de Atacama which at 2400 metres above sea level, is considered the archeologicalcapital of Chile. It was the main center of the Atacama culture and was formerly named El Oasisfor the rare desert springs nearby that have supported life here since the 11th century. Today, SanPedro is a delightful colonial town connected by small narrow streets. In the late afternoon we’ll takean excursion to the However, at sunset the play of light creates a sublime scene that we plan to experienceduring our scheduled visit.
Patagonia: Patagonia is an enormous region south of Buenos Aires province, featuring the awesome peaks of Fitz Roy and the Paine Range that runs into both the Argentinean and Chilean Patagonia. This glacier-dotted mountainous interior is part of the great chain of Andean peaks and offers some of the most spectacular wilderness trekking to be found anywhere in the world. Patagonia boasts unique wildlife, including flamingos, sea birds, guanacos, elephant seals and right whales. The Perito Moreno Glacier of Santa Cruz is a 60-meter-high (197-ft-high) river of rising, toppling and exploding ice, though it hasn't been advancing for several years. Patagonia can be accessed via both Argentina and Chile.
Easter Island: Sitting in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is one of the most isolated islands on earth. Easter Island really is an unusual destination made famous by its monolithic stone moia, or Rapa Nui, and ancient Pacific culture. A side trip to Easter Island is a must for school expeditions who can afford the budget to travel there.
A long, narrow country spanning more than half the length of South America, Chile is a land of rich human history and dazzling natural landscapes. It is a country of extremes, yet easy to travel around: from the extensive Pacific coast to the rugged Andes, visitors can experience a huge diversity of natural environments including volcanoes, mountains, salt flats, steppes, lakes, rivers, forests, beaches, glaciers and fjords, along with vibrant towns and cities.
Southern Chile’s Llanquihue province is home to the earliest confirmed site of human habitation in the Americas: the prehistoric archaeological site of Monte Verde. Evidence uncovered from the site, which was first excavated in 1977, confirms human settlement in the region at least 10,500 BCE, possibly much earlier.
By the time of the Spanish conquest in the mid-1500s, Chile was populated by at least 500,000 indigenous peoples living in scattered tribes, with some historians believing the figure could have been as high as 1,000,000. While many tribes were related in language and ethnicity, there was no central government of culture unifying them. The Spanish conquistadores, upon their arrival, classified the broad Araucanian group of indigenous Amerindian tribes of Chile into three main groups, based on geography: the Picunche of the north, Mapuche of the central region, and Huilliche of the south.
As the Spanish conquered their way southward from northern Chile, the Picunche were the first ethnic group they encountered. The Picunche had already been living under the political and cultural influence of the Inca empire of neighbouring Peru for a century, and were accustomed to foreign control. They offered little resistance to the Spaniards and within a century had been assimilated into the Spanish rural peasant class. The Mapuche, however, who outstripped the Picunche in number and military strength, used their superior battle strategies and village-level alliances to successfully withstand Spanish and Chilean control for over 350 years, until fighting and disease had reduced their number significantly. The Huilliche of the south were too few and too scattered to withstand the Spanish for long, and as with the Picunche of the north, were soon assimilated into the rural peasant class of Spanish-controlled Chile.
The first excursion into Chile by Spanish forces was in 1536, when Diego de Almagro led an invasion into Chile extending as far south as the Maule River. After failing to find either gold or a high civilization deemed worthy of conquering, the Spanish returned to Peru. Almagro’s reports deterred further attempts to invade the area until 1540, when upon Almagro’s death, his rival Francisco Pizarro—the Spanish conquistador who had conquered Peru’s Inca Empire—awarded a license to invade and colonise Chile to his second in command, Pedro de Valdivia.
Valdivia was accompanied on the expedition by his mistress, Inés Suárez, a handful of Spaniards and some indigenous allies, and was successful in gaining additional support along the way thanks to his promises and reputation as a brilliant leader. After a grueling five-month campaign, the party arrived in the valley of the Mapocho River, where they established the new capital of Santiago in February of 1541. The fifteen or so years that followed were marked by constant threats and revolts from the Mapuche Indians who refused to be assimilated.
By the turn of the 17th century, Chile was considered to be a “deficit area” of the Spanish colonies, and was reliant on a hefty annual subsidy from the Spanish crown to meets the costs of maintaining Chile’s army and the administrative capital of Santiago. In the absence of an apparent abundance of precious metals and minerals to provide income, the settlers turned their attentions to agriculture to support their poverty-stricken colony. The ethnic profile of Chile differed from other colonial settlements in that the region’s lack of wealth made it unpopular with Spanish settlers, and also the cold climate did not support tropical plantation crops and as such there was no real demand for imported slave labour.
By the early 1600s, a new mestizo ethnic group (mixed ethnicity based on intermarriage between European settlers and indigenous Amerindians) was growing rapidly. By the end of the colonial period in the early 19th century, Chile’s population of approximately 500,000 included some 300,000 mestizos and 150,000 Creoles (Chilean-born people of European descent). The Spanish crown, Viceroyalty of Peru and the Roman Catholic Church controlled political, administrative, religious and cultural life in Chile as in the rest of the colony.
Chile’s struggle for independence from colonial masters began in 1810 when the President-Governor of Santiago was replaced with an autonomous government of local leaders, following Napoleon’s overthrow of the king of Spain. Once free from formal ties to the Viceroyalty of Peru, Santiago’s new government relaxed trade restrictions, promoted education, established a newspaper to disseminate their patriotic views, and took steps towards the abolition of slavery. However, at the Battle of Rancagua in late 1814, Spain successfully regained military control over Chile. Following their defeat, patriot leaders emigrated to Argentina.
In the years that followed, Spain’s harsh yet ineffective rule of Chile convinced the people that absolute independence was necessary. At the start of 1817, the Argentine revolutionary José de San Martín began a successful campaign for Chilean independence, leading his well-trained and formidable army across the rugged and dangerous Andes mountains. They defeated royalists at Casas de Chacabuco in a surprise attack, allowing them to invade the capital of Santiago. By the following year, San Martín had cleared the country of remaining colonial troops, declared Chile’s independence and installed Bernardo O’Higgins in power as Supreme Director of Chile.
From then until 1830, Chile was troubled with internal conflicts and a revolving door of different governments. From 1830, Chile began to establish a new conservative hegemony, which compromised to satisfy the different members of Chile’s ruling class. With a strong central government and new constitution (1833), the new government structure was further strengthened by a successful war against the Peruvian-Bolivian Confederation in 1836-39. The economic prosperity afforded by the country’s new political stability enabled the construction of critical major infrastructure: roads, railroads and harbours. Chile’s developing commerce encouraged foreign investment and led to an increase in wealth across the country’s oligarchy, propelling a growing number of wealthy merchants into the political sphere. The young and wealthy members of Chile’s economic and political arenas began to travel and study abroad, bringing back European ideas on politics, science and the arts. From 1860, many rival political parties began to emerge during the period known as the “Liberal Republic”, challenging the conservative hegemony of the church.
Chile initiated and won The War of the Pacific (1879-83) against the Peruvian-Bolivian army as a result of the discovery of lucrative saltpeter deposits along the vaguely defined Chilean-Bolivian border. The war had many repercussions for Chile, as the country’s weak economy was worsened by the cost of war, and France, Germany and Britain all threatened invasion in order to take control of the saltpeter. After a brief civil war spurred on by frustrations over the economy, Chile’s dissenting factions began to organise themselves into structured political parties.
The period between 1891 and 1920 saw the growth of the middle and working classes, and new political parties and unions that sought to voice their political desires and frustrations. Ideas on secularisation, socialism, the labour movement and Marxist ideology began to spread among the Chilean working class. By the end of the 19th century, left-wing political parties were radicalised, largely caused by the ruling class’s failure to introduce reforms necessary to correct the country’s complicated economic, political and social problems. Chile’s Socialist Party was first formed in 1901, and the Communist Party in 1922. Between 1924-32, progress was made under reformist president Arturo Alessandri Palma, who introduced a new constitution in 1925, establishing a presidential republic, installed new labour and welfare legislation and separated the powers of church and state. Gen. Carlos Ibáñez del Campo’s military dictatorship (1927-31) introduced further reforms, partially nationalising the country’s saltpeter industry, improving public education and initiating new public infrastructure. Through all these changes, however, the economic and political power of the oligarchy remained untouched. The effects of the world depression of the 1930s further damaged Chile’s weakened economy, with international demand and market prices for Chile’s crucial saltpeter and copper resources plummeting.
The result of the 1938 presidential election, in which the Radical Party candidate Pedro Aguirre Cerda was elected with the support of a coalition of the left, was a clear indication of the frustrations of the working and middle classes. Another Radical candidate, Gabriel Gonzalez Videla, held the presidency from 1946-52, but the Radical presidents failed to remedy Chile’s many economic and social problems, and former military general and dictator president Carlos Ibáñez del Campo was reelected in 1952.
Between 1964-70, the Christian Democratic president Eduardo Frei Montalva defeated the Marxist coalition and initiated various economic and agrarian law reforms, before being succeeded by Salvador Allende’s Marxist government in 1970. After three years in power, Allende’s government was forcibly removed from power in a dramatic US-supported coup d’état staged by the Chilean armed forces, led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet, on September 11, 1973. During the attack on La Moneda (the Presidential Palace), and with gunfire audible in the background, President Allende gave a farewell speech to the people of Chile on live radio. Shortly after, Pinochet’s army announced that Allende had committed suicide. Theories of an assignation persist today, although it is widely accepted that Allende’s death was by suicide.
Pinochet was installed as the country’s new president, and his military dictatorship controlled Chile until 1990, during which time mass protests and labour strikes were held in opposition to the government amidst widespread unemployment, decline in wages, labour conditions, political exiles, terrorism attacks and human rights violations. These volatile political and economic conditions continued into the late 1980s, when the Christian Democratic candidate Patricio Aylwin Azócar won the 1989 presidential election by a large margin. Pinochet negotiated a lifetime senatorial seat for himself before stepping down, and went on to hold the post of Commander of the armed forces until his retirement from the military in 1998. Up until his death in 2006, Pinochet was indicted and investigated multiple times for human rights abuses under his dictatorship. Upon his death, the armed forces gave Pinochet a full military funeral, however, the Chilean government denied him a state funeral.
CPD (Coalition of Parties for Democracy) candidate Ricardo Lagos was president from 2000-06, during which time his administration boosted the economy, strengthened democratic systems and introduced various social reforms. Lagos was succeeded by fellow socialist Michelle Bachelet, Chile’s first female president. Although faced with protests and labour strikes, Bachelet’s government was credited with reducing poverty, stabilizing the economy, and improving education. Bachelet, ineligible to serve a second consecutive term as per Chile’s constitution, was succeeded by billionaire businessman Sebastián Piñera in 2010. In the same year, Chile was hit with two disasters: first an 8.8-magnitude earthquake, and then a mining disaster in which 33 miners were trapped deep underground. The mining accident became a global media spectacle, and after an incredible 69-day ordeal during which the welfare of the miners was reported on daily by the international news media, the 33 miners were rescued one by one using a specially engineered rescue capsule. Piñera’s popularity soared amidst the euphoria of the successful rescue, but by the following year the government faced large student protests demanding reform of the country’s public education system. In March 2014, socialist Michelle Bachelet was elected president for the second time.
Thanks to sound social policies, steady economic growth and a stable democracy, Chile has become one of South America’s most successful nations, and has increasingly assumed a role of continental and international leadership. With dedication to strengthening democracy, reducing poverty, reforming social issues and repairing ties with neighbouring Bolivia and Peru, Chile has overcome its volatile past to be known as a sophisticated, stable, prosperous and democratic nation.
Roman Catholic (66.7%); Evangelical or Protestant (16.4%); Jehovah's Witnesses (1%); other (3.4%); none (11.5%).
Chileans are predominantly Roman Catholic, thanks to the Spanish colonialists who brought the religion to the region in the 16th century. However, Chileans are known for their harmonious appreciation of both European and indigenous religions and customs, with many non-indigenous Chileans joining in celebrating the festivals and traditions of the Mapuche people
The ethnic profile of Chile today is largely European and mestizo ancestry (a mixture of European and indigenous heritage), with less than a tenth of the population being full-blooded indigenous Mapuche. As Chile’s climate has never supported a tropical plantation economy, the colonial demand for imported slave labour from Africa was far less than other Spanish colonies, which is reflected in the country’s demographic profile
The arrival of Spanish conquistadores (from Castilian aristocratic families) in the 16th and 17th centuries resulted in intermarriage between the Spanish and the local indigenous tribes. Basque families migrating to Chile in the 18th century joined the Castilian aristocracy, which still dominates Chilean political life today. The Mapuche tribe is the country’s only significant ethnic minority
Chile’s settlement patterns and population distribution have been shaped by the historic events of occupation, and by Chile’s diverse geography and climate. The arid Atacama Desert to the north, rugged spine of the Andes to the east, and wet and frigid conditions of the far south have all acted as natural barriers to settlement. European settlement of the south was also prevented by the resistance of the Mapuche, who successfully withstood the Spanish until the late 19th century, by which point wars and disease had significantly reduced their population
Cities, large towns and major industrial and agricultural centres were all developed by the Spanish in Chile’s fertile and temperate central zone (‘Zona Central’). Still today, the bulk of the country’s population, agriculture and manufacturing activities are within the Zona Central. The vast majority of Chileans live in cities and major urban areas
Chile’s population displays a strong cultural identity largely thanks to the prevalence of Roman Catholicism, Spanish language and the country’s relative isolation from the rest of the continent. Most of Chile’s cities were developed during the colonial era and bear witness to the European styles of architecture, planning and decoration popular at the time
Chile’s increasing level of urbanization, and improved healthcare and living conditions have resulted in increased life expectancy, decreased infant mortality and a declining fertility rate. The result for Chile is a progressively ageing population
If you want to take photographs of people you should always seek permission first (a simple "por favor" and camera actions indicating your intent, will usually suffice)
It’s considered good manners to take a small gift (e.g., flowers or candy) if you are invited to a Chilean home
It’s best to be modest with your clothing. If your clothing is brief or skintight you will miss opportunities to mix with local people and possibly will be the butt of their jokes
New Year’s Eve (31 Dec) sees huge celebrations throughout the country, with Santiago and Valparaíso being especially popular with partygoers
Each January, the capital hosts Santiago a Mil, Chile’s biggest performing arts festival. Hundreds of music, dance and theatre events happen throughout the city over the two-week long festival
The last days before the start of Lent (the 40 days of fasting/sacrifice leading up to Easter Sunday) see Catholic countries around the world party like crazy in the name of Carnival, with cities swelling in size as revelers dance, drink and party wildly. Arica in Northern Chile is home to the Carnaval Andino Con la Fuerza del Sol (“Andean Carnival with the Strength of the Sun”, aka Andean Carnaval), which kicks off Chile’s annual Carnaval season in late January. Early Feb then sees northern Chile’s colourful Iquique Carnival
The 2nd Feb brings the Atacama Desert region’s most important religious festival, La Fiesta de la Candelaria (‘The Feast of Candlemas’)
For the first two weeks of February, the remote Easter Island showcases and celebrates its Polynesian culture with the Tapati Rapa Nui Festival
Each year in late February, Chile plays host to the Viña del Mar Music Festival. The hugely popular televised event, which has been around since the 1960s, features an international song contest with live performances by big international stars
Also in late Feb, Santiago hosts the Chilean branch of popular Miami, Florida electronic dance music festival, Ultra Music Festival
As a prolific wine-producing country, Chileans celebrate the harvest months of March-May with the Festivales de Vendimia (‘Grape Harvest Festival’). Some of the oldest and biggest festivities take place in Santa Cruz, Casablaca and Curicó
Each year in late March/early April, Santiago hosts the Chilean branch of the famous American music festival, Lollapalooza, a multi-day behemoth which brings huge international names in alternative rock, metal, punk, hip hop and electronic music
The southern hemisphere’s winter solstice (late June) is celebrated by Chile’s indigenous Mapuche people as We Tripantu (‘New Sunrise’ in the Mapudungun language), the Mapuche New Year festival. Families and friends gather to celebrate the winter solstice and the return to longer days with traditional music, dance, storytelling and the sharing of food. It’s not only Chile’s Mapuche population who observe the festival; many people from Chile and abroad use the time to learn about and celebrate Mapuche culture
The population of northern Chile’s tiny desert village of La Tirana swells to a quarter of a million on the 16th July each year, coming together to honour the Virgin del Carmen with the Festival de la Tirana, a 10-day carnival of music, colourful costumes, dance, food and drink
Punta Arenas in Chilean Patagonia’s extreme south hosts a colourful Winter Carnival each July
The Santiago International Film Festival hits the capital each year in August
September 18 (Independence Day) marks the start of nationwide festivities known as Fiestas Patrias, in which Chileans celebrate their national culture, arts, cuisine, religion and military history. Throughout the country, people spend two days eating, drinking, dancing and celebrating all things Chilean
Each October/November, the two-week long International Arts and Crafts Festival comes to Santiago, bringing together a huge variety of traditional Chilean arts and handicrafts
In addition to countless other smaller regional religious festivals and holidays, the predominately Roman Catholic Chilean people observe many services surrounding Easter and Christmas
Major sporting events include the Santiago Marathon (April); National Rodeo Championships (April) and the World Surfing Championships (November).
Secular public holidays include New Year’s Day (1 January); Labour Day (1 May); Navy Day (21 May) and Columbus Day (12 October)
Total population is 17,363,894; Chile being the 65th most populous country in the world, growing at a rate of 0.84%
The median age is 33.3 years; with 20.7% aged 0-14 and 9.7% aged 65+
Sex ratio is 0.97 males to 1 female
The urban population is 89% (2010), with average annual rate of urbanization at 1.1%
White, Mestizo (mixed Amerindian/European ancestry) and non-indigenous (88.9%); Mapuche (9.1%); Aymara (0.7%); and various other indigenous groups (total 1%)
With the exception of tropical humidity, Chile’s extreme latitudinal span means that the country encompasses nearly all climates. The Andes Mountains, the Pacific and South Pacific Oceans, and the cold Humboldt Current from Peru are all major influences on Chile’s climatic patterns.
Most of northern Chile is desert; the central parts of the country, where the bulk of the country’s population and larger cities are found (including the capital of Santiago), are temperate, humid and suitable for cultivation, similar to the Mediterranean; and southern Chile is a beautiful but largely inhospitable region subject to cold, wet and windy conditions. Temperatures drop and precipitation rises fairly consistently as you move from the dry extreme north towards the humid extreme south.
Moderate daytime temperatures, cold nighttime temperatures and a lack of rain or permanent vegetation typify the arid northern desert. Even along the coast, humidity generally develops only to coastal fogs (garúa) rather than rain.
Central Chile is blessed with temperate Mediterranean conditions, making it a very productive agricultural region for growing grapes, fruits, grains and vegetables. Winters are cool and humid, bringing rains from May to August (especially the wettest months of June and July); spring months see southwesterly winds and clear skies; and summer and autumn months are warm and dry.
Southern Chile is subject to the influence of cyclonic depressions, permanent westerlies and the polar front, causing lower temperatures and abnormally high rainfall. Intense storms and squalls are frequent around Cape Horn.
Average monthly temperatures in the Santiago area range from around 19.5°C (67°F) in the summer (Jan-Feb) to around 7.5°C (45.5°F) in the winter (Jun-Jul).
Peru to the north; Bolivia to the northeast; Argentina to the east; South Atlantic Ocean to the southeast; Southern Ocean to the southwest; South Pacific Ocean to the west
756,102 sq km (291,932 square mi) / (38th largest country in the world), divided into 15 administrative regions
Chile is ranked at 29 out of 178 countries with an improving trend, on the Environmental Performance Index (2014), which quantifies and benchmarks performance of government environmental policies and outcomes
Environmental issues include threatened natural resources due to widespread deforestation and mining; air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; and water pollution
Natural hazards include severe earthquakes, tsunamis and significant volcanic activity. Chile falls within the “Ring of Fire” area of the Pacific Ocean Basin, subjecting the country to significant earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, with the Chilean Andes being home to more than three-dozen active volcanoes
Chile is a signatory to various international environmental and conservation agreements
As with Chile’s climate, its distribution of flora and fauna is arranged in latitudinal geographic zones
Hardy plant species such as the tamarugo (a spiny acacia tree) have adapted to soil salinity and a lack of rain to flourish in the northern desert. Coastal fogs support the growth of various cacti, shrubs and spiny bramble species near to the coastline. Hardy grasses such as ichu and tola grow in northern Chile’s high plateau, and the Atacama Desert is home to many cacti and the unusual llareta plant, a dense moss-like flowering plant that is a related to parsley. Scientists believe parts of llareta species currently found in the Atacama Desert to be up to 3,000 years old
Various cacti, shrubs and local hardwoods such as espino and algarrobo are common in the semiarid central-north. Central Chile is home to a dense forest composite called matorral, comprised of hardwoods, shrubs, cacti and grasses. The humid southern central region is home to a wide variety of deciduous and evergreen forest, including local varieties of cedar, beech and laurel. The humid Lake District of southern central Chile contains densely timbered rainforest. The enormous Chile pine (aka Monkey Puzzle tree), the national tree of Chile, grows in dense stands along the western slopes of the Andes. The national flower, the Chilean bellflower, is found in the temperate Valdivian forests of southern Chile
The dense southern woods are filled with Antarctic beech, Chilean cedar and the giant Fitzroya cypress. The cold steppes of eastern Chilean Patagonia provide grasses and herbs for livestock, but the freezing temperatures and constant winds of the rainy islands of Chilean Patagonia prohibit the growth of large trees and only miniature versions of southern beech and some grasses are found
The rugged Andes and the arid northern desert have both proven significant barriers to animal migration, and as such, Chile lacks the diversity of other South American countries. The country’s geographic isolation has also resulted in a lack of poisonous reptiles, and very few poisonous spiders
Rodents are the most diverse and abundant of Chile’s land animals. The chinchilla, degu and mountain viscacha are all Andean rodents with fine fur pelts. The coypu (aka nutria) is a common herbivorous water rodent, living in burrows along rivers and streams. The monito de monte (“little bush monkey”) is a tiny marsupial native to Chile and Argentina, living in the stands of bamboo and temperate Valdivian rainforest of the southern Andes
The guanaco, the wild camelid parent species of the domesticated llama, is found in the Atacama Desert and throughout Patagonia. The llama, first domesticated by the Incas 4,000-5,000 years ago, is an important species in Chile, with rural populations utilising them as pack animals and to make clothing with their warm fur/wool. The warm fur of the alpaca and vicuña is also used for clothing
Chile’s deer species include the taruca, the North Andean Huemul (Chile’s national animal) and the pudú (the world’s smallest deer). Carnivores are few in Chile, with the largest being the Patagonian puma. Others include the guiña and the colocolo (both felines), the Andean wolf and the long-tailed fox
Chile is home to a large number of bird species, including many wintering migratory birds, flamingoes, parrots, hawks, penguins, the carancha (a bird of prey found in Chilean Patagonia) and the Andean Condor (a large scavenger and Chile’s national bird). Marine life is plentiful and includes whales, dolphins, otters, elephant seals, sea lions, and many fish, molluscs, cephalopods, crustaceans and marine birds
Chile’s long and narrow landmass—4,300 km (2,670 mi) long, and only 350 km (217 mi) at its widest point—makes it the longest north-south bearing country in the world, extending from its border with Peru all the way down to the Diego Ramírez Islands, the South American continent’s southernmost point, some 105 km (65 mi) west-southwest of Cape Horn
Chile’s extreme latitudinal span makes for a wide variety of geographic features, but the country is dominated by mountains and more than 4,300 km (2,700 mi) of Pacific Ocean coastline
The country’s major landforms can be grouped into three parallel longitudinal zones: the Chilean Andes to the east; the intermediate depression (or longitudinal valley) in the centre; and the coastal ranges to the east. The country is also then divided into five latitudinal geographic bands: the extreme north, Norte Grande (extending to 27° S); the north-central region, Norte Chico (27°–33° S); the central region, Zona Central (33°–38° S); the south-central region, La Frontera and the Lake District (38°–42° S); and the extreme southern region, Sur (42° S–Cape Horn)
The Andes is the longest continental mountain range on earth, and the highest range outside of Asia. The Andes system dominates Chile, providing most of the Chilean-Argentine border and spanning nearly the full length of the country
The spectacular Patagonia region, shared between southern Chile and Argentina, is home to towering snow-capped peaks, deep valleys, volcanoes, glaciers, ice-fields, fjords, lakes, channels and islands
Chile’s Pacific coastline and islands are home to many spectacular beaches and marine environments. The coastline is marked by rugged and rocky bluffs, rough surf breaks and chilly water temperatures, even in the summer
Chile’s territorial claim includes thousands of islands, including the Diego Ramírez islands, the Tierra del Fuego and Chiloé Archipelagoes, and the remote Easter Island
The Atacama Desert, covering a 1,100 km (700 mi) long strip of Chile’s northern coastline and extending north into Peru, is the world’s driest non-polar desert. Adjacent to the desert is the Atacama Plateau, the southernmost section of the Andean Altiplano. The Atacama Desert and Plateau are separated by the Cordillera Domeyko mountain range
The Loa River in northern Chile is the country’s longest river, at 440 km (275 mi). Chile’s largest lake is shared with neighbouring Argentina, located in the Patagonia region. The lake is known as both General Carrera Lake (Chilean side) and Lake Buenos Aires (Argentine side)
Ojos del Salado on the Chilean-Argentinian border is Chile’s highest peak and the world’s highest active volcano (at 6,893 m / 22,615 ft), however, the most recent eruption was 1,300 years ago. Ojos del Salado gets its name (“eyes of salt”) from the huge deposits of salt that pool in its glaciers. The volcano’s crater lake is the world’s highest lake, at an elevation of 6,390 m / 20,964 ft
Rapa Nui National Park (1995) Located on Easter Island, this site takes its name from the island’s indigenous name. Situated some 3,700 km (2,299 mi) from the coast of mainland Chile, Easter Island is the most isolated inhabited place on Earth, and home to the Rapa Nui culture, the most obvious and important legacy of which is the monumental moai sculptures of the early Rapa Nui peoples’ ancestors which dot the island today. The island, which was settled by seafaring indigenous Eastern Polynesians in around 400 AD, contains the biggest concentration of the famous giant stone moai sculptures that were carved by the Rapa Nui people between the 11th and 17th centuries. The park contains more than 900 statues, 300 ceremonial platforms and thousands of building structures, bearing witness to this intriguing and isolated culture.
Churches of Chiloé (2000) The isolated Chiloé archipelago of islands, first colonised by the Spanish in the 16th century, is home to around 70 churches built by the Jesuits in the 17th century and continued by the Franciscans in the 18th and 19th centuries. Most impressive of these buildings are the 16 wooden churches representative of the Chilota School of architecture, exemplifying a successful marriage of indigenous and European cultural, religious and design traditions, which is unique to the Chiloé islands. The unique forms, construction, decoration, location, orientation and materials used for these outstanding buildings are a fascinating legacy of the religious, cultural and technological fusion of the archipelago’s local peoples and colonial immigrants.
Historic Quarter of the Seaport City of Valparaíso (2003) Valparaíso was the first and most important commercial port on South America’s Pacific coast, linking trade between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While the city’s importance to sea trade slowed with the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914, Valparaíso’s harbour, port infrastructure and the distinctive urban design of its Historic Quarter remain as an exceptional example of early industrial-age globalisation. Set above the harbour into steep hills cut by ravines, the city resembles a large amphitheatre, with a system of trolleys and funicular elevators servicing its difficult geography. The city’s urban fabric—its houses, buildings, squares, streetscapes, infrastructure and overall layout—is a fusion of local and European influences, setting it apart as a unique colonial city which benefitted from the influence of the many different styles and technologies brought to this important merchant seaport. Considered to be both ‘The Jewel of the Pacific,’ and the graffiti art capital of Chile, Valparaíso is a city of great interest, with colourful and unique architecture, a rich arts culture and buzzing nightlife, and a labyrinth of stairways, narrow streets and cobblestoned alleyways to explore.
Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (2005) From the first half of the 19th century, thousands of people from Chile, Peru and Bolivia lived and worked in the dry desert of northern Chile, processing the world’s largest saltpeter deposit. The saltpeter industry brought great wealth to Chile and produced the nitrate fertilisers that enabled Europe and the Americas to transform their soils for agriculture. Saltpeter is deeply embedded in Chile’s history: it provided great wealth to a young independent nation, initiated wars and gave rise to a social and labour rights movement which was instigated by its pioneering workforce. The twin saltpeter works of Humberstone and Santa Laura are the best preserved examples of Chile’s saltpeter industry and together they provide a comprehensive picture of the industrial history of this crucial resource, as well as capturing the realities of life for the thousands who lived and worked there.
Sewell Mining Town (2006) Uninhabited since the 1970s, the Sewell Mining Town was erected on top of the country’s largest underground copper mine, El Teniente, in 1905. Sewell was the country’s first copper company town and at the time of the mine’s peak production in 1968 provided living quarters for up to 15,000 people. Set into the barren slopes of central Chile’s Los Andes Cordillera at an elevation of 2,200 m, Sewell is an outstanding example of industrial design ingenuity and technological innovation. Known as ‘The City of Stairs’, planners overcame the difficulties of such a steep site by devising a pedestrian-only central system of stairs and pathways, and clever use of timber and steel are evident in the town’s many buildings. This pioneering mining company town inspired innovations in town planning, city infrastructure and mining technology in subsequent mining towns throughout Chile and the rest of the world.
World Youth Adventures can tailor make a school expedition to Chile to your school’s budget and curriculum requirements.
Talk to us about your next school expedition, or if you need some ideas check out the trips below.