Chileâ€™s impressively extreme landscape is an outdoor loverâ€™s paradise, offering endless opportunities for activities as diverse as the landscape itself. Travelers could spend a lifetime exploring Chileâ€™s natural playground, from four-wheeling through the Atacama Desert to kitesurfing down the Pacific coastline to world-famous fly fishing in Patagonia.
Snow bunnies flock to Central Chile, whose high-quality slopes and beautiful landscape offer arguably the best skiing and snowboarding in the South America. Just outside Santiago lie an array of reputable resorts such as Valle Nevado, La Parva and El Colorado, with many more dotted along the Andes. Resorts further south offer lower altitude skiing while navigating volcanic slopes. Try the Antillanca Ski Center, whose name means â€śjewel of the sunâ€ť in the Mapuche language. Just south of Osorno, this ski resort allows skiers to whip through forests while commanding down the Casablanca volcano.
Southern Chileâ€™s unspoiled landscape and pristine lakes, rivers and fjords offer spectacular opportunities for fly-fishing. Cast a line at Coyhaique, a remote Patagonian village famed to be one of the worldÂ´s best â€“ and last â€“ destinations for first class fly-fishing. Organized fishing tours and vacation lodges spread themselves out over Patagonia and the Lake District.
ChileÂ´s amazing waters provide much more than fishing. Eco-friendly sports rafting and kayaking are popular in Patagonia. The surging class V whitewaters of the Futaleufu and Bio-Bio rivers are internationally famous. Exhilarating, but less extreme, trips can be made down Central Chileâ€™s class III/IV Maipo, Teno and Claro rivers.
Chileâ€™s rugged landscape will not disappoint climbers. Popular volcano summits include high-altitude Parinacota in the far north, as well as the less extreme (though still difficult) peaks of Villarrica and Osorno in Central Chile. Climbers can test their mountaineering skills with the demanding Mts. Tupungato and Ojos del Salado. Ice climbers can â€śpickâ€ť from a variety of snow-capped mountains; El Plomo, La Paloma and El Altar and are popular climbs easily accessible from Santiago.
For entertaining (but less extreme) activities, Chile offers plenty of options. Leisure-lovers can soak in thermal baths at Termas de Colina or Termas GeomĂ©tricas. Travelers can also enjoy scenic views while camping in one of the many national parks scattered throughout the country. The gorgeous Torres del Paine in Patagonia offers a variety of campgrounds along its beautiful waters, including Lago PuhoĂ© and RĂo Serrano.
As with most Latin American counties, futbol (soccer) reigns supreme; itÂ´s popularity transcends all ages and socioeconomic classes. Although its teams are not as internationally popular as those of its Argentine and Brazilian neighbors, Chile shares their passion and intense pride for the game. Travelers can watch matches of all levels, from local city parks to national stadiums.
ChileÂ´s national team â€“ nicknamed La Roja (the red one) â€“ has appeared in seven World Cup tournaments, including its third-place showing in the 1962 World Cup, hosted by SantiagoÂ´s massive stadium Estadio Nacional de Chile. To football fansÂ´delight, Copa Chile, the countryÂ´s national championship, returned in 2008 after being cancelled in 2000. An international game between Peru and Chile is an electrifying experience, as the countries' passionate rivalry dates back to the fight for Bolivia's sea border in the War of the Pacific (also see our â€śPisco controversyâ€ť box). For a taste of national futbol ferver, check out a heated match between rivals La U (Club de FĂştbol Universidad de Chile) and Colo-Colo (CorporaciĂłn Club Social y Deportivo Colo-Colo).