Situated in the South Pacific Ocean, this narrow strip of land just 109 miles wide clings onto the South American landmass. Its length is 2,700 miles and runs south from Arica in the north down to the fragmented coast at Punta Arenas. Chile is characterised by its low, coastal mountains, a fertile central valley and the mighty Andes marching along its eastern border with Argentina.
It is a country of many climatic variations with the driest desert in the world, Atacama, in the north, passing through a Mediterranean climate and on to a temperate climate in the south.
In the Valle Central, is Santiago, the capital, a thoroughly modern, cosmopolitan city offering all the delights of chic shopping arcades, impressive, modern, towering architecture and culture in the form of theatres, galleries and museums.
From here you can visit the oldest and most widely cultivated Maipo Valley which is known for Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot and Carmenère grapes are also very widely used in the Valle Central. Colchagua Valley is the location of the Casa Lapostolle vineyard (which produces a fine Merlot), one of the most famous of the thirty-odd wineries in this locale.
Out to sea in the west, are the world-famous moai (stone statues) on Isla de Pascua (Easter Island) which are well worth a visit. Some of the stones have been re-erected and present a truly awesome sight silhouetted against the skyline as they stare into infinity.
Finally, Patagonia in the far south, a land of valleys, fjords and glaciers with the wild Cape Horn at its southern most point, evoking images of tempestuous seas, towering cliffs, crashing surf and the odd iceberg thrown in for good measure. Definitely a place for the adventurous and a world away from the sophisticated cities of this naturally beautiful country.