Chile exploded in a popular festival over several days, when the country won its first football gold ever. It was July 4, 2015 in the South American championship, the Copa América, which as the world’s oldest tournament brings together South America’s national team to battle on the pitch. Chile won after extra time and penalties against Argentina.
The three-week pairings had shown South America and the rest of the world Chile as an exemplary host. A modern country with modern stadiums and good public transport to and from the stadium also outside the capital Santiago. A close-knit and logistics associated country. Chile has come a long way since its humble beginnings two centuries ago. Yet it is only the last three decades, Chile has advanced towards the present homogenous nation from north to south. Long beautiful highways in the central part and organized roads, more and more with asphalt and less and less dirtroads, in the rest of the country. Asphalting could be a symbol of the new Chile ambitious to move forward. A Chile in many aspects among Latin America’s finest, although the country in other areas still lacks basic facilities. Chile is a paradox. It really advances economically and is constantly being modernized from top to toe, while there is a vast difference between town and country in terms of women’s liberation, abortion, premarital sex, domestic violence and all the small but great values that shape and characterize a society.
The capital Santiago has in recent years experienced very strong protests from student movements that require better teaching conditions and an end to the steady erosion of public education being. It looks like and is a class-struggle between the lower middle-class´ demand for free public education. Since the restoration of democracy in 1990 these changes have created new frictions in an already very tradition-bound society where contacts and surnames for decades has been the only way to the top of society. The education sector in such a society is privatized causing it to move across the middle class and below, because the old Chile is on track to be replaced with the new Chile. And there are social classes on paper is not as important as in the past.
Chile today has opened the gates wide open to the outside world and has a well-functioning economy. There is also the tendency to polarization, where the richest in the world get richer while especially the low middle class and working class is treading water and not really enjoying the Chilean economic miracle. The main sectors, in addition to the dominant mining sector with the largest copper production and exports in the world, are tourism and service sectors and sectors such as salmon-farming and high quality fruit and timber industry. The past decade has software industry experienced a boom, like Chilean design and culture in general have been known outside of Chile and South America’s borders.
Chile has swept into the global maelstrom and thrives there. In early 2015 the Chilean Parliament passed a law that allows same-sex marriages. It is a giant stride in an earlier extremely conservative and Catholic country like Chile and a major symbol of easing up on several fronts. In the same way women’s struggle has become a subject that politics dare to address and bring with them in their election-programs in a way that would have been unheard of a decade back.
Chile has come a long way and will reach even further.
A roundtrip in Chile is also a trip in a country that has traditionally been more isolated than its neighbors. Present-day´s Chile works almost like a Swiss-clock with one of South America’s best infrastructure – if not the best. The charm of the country is that although it is homogeneous the mere length of 4.300 km gives a varied and beautiful natural framework for different scenarios and experiences.
Nature and geography
When the Calbuco-volcano in the so-called lake district erupted in April 2015 it took everyone by surprise – that it had been sleeping for four decades. Huge amounts of ash and lava was thrown up in the air and thousands of people were evacuated in the nearby villages. From the shores of Llanquihue Lake only 70 km away in the tourist-center of Puerto Varas astonished Chileans and tourists witnessed a spectacular sight.
Chile has experienced 12 volcano eruptions since 1979. That makes Chile one of the most volcanic active countries worldwide alongside Indonesia, Japan, Russia and the United States. The eruptions frecuently paralizes villages and air-traffic for several days or weeks.
Recently Chile has seen eruption by the Chaitén volcano in 2008, and the Puyehue-Cordon volcano twice in 2012/13. Then both the Villarica and Calbuco Volcano in 2015.
On the volcanoes
Trekking, deserts, Chiloe Island’s coves with islands and fishing hamlets frozen in time, the impressing volcanoes and rivers in the lake-district. Further south Tierra del Fuego fjords and glaciers.
All options are open for an unforgettable vacation. The National Park Torres del Paine in the southernmost tip is considered the crown jewel of South America. A hike in the so-called French valley with rippling rivers and steep almost supernatural rocky mountains is impossible to explain with words. Just go.
Mother Nature has been generous in Chile.
Try to climb the world’s highest volcano, Ojo del Salado, that worldwide is of only a dozen volcanoes suitable for ascent. Chile has every tenth active volcano in the world and more outbreaks the past few years confirms it´s roaring and slumbering underground. 50 active volcanoes in all of Chile.
Another activity is to explore the vast sand banks in the world’s driest desert, the Atacama Desert on the border of Peru and Bolivia with out-of-this-world sceneries more likely to be at the moon.
Chile also has some excellent surfing beaches on its northern Pacific coast and the waters around Easter Island that also offers prime scuba-diving.
A growing activity for both Chileans and foreigners are cycling down the Carretera Austral, the southern highway, which opened the southernmost highway as a continuation of the Pan-American highway beginning in Alaska.
But the core of Chile is trekking and mountaineering. Glaciers are part of this amazing landscape created during the last ice age, which in the south has created the beautiful fjords like the Western coast of Norway. All Chilean national parks are good with excellent hiking-trails and good accommodation such as hotels and campsites.
Together with Argentina Chile boasts South America’s best ski resorts around Valle Nevado closest to the capital or further south around the river region and Villarrica and Osorno volcanoes.
Rafting, kayaking and canoeing are available in hotspots such as Pucón and Puerto Varas.
Fly-fishing is exquisite from November to May, where trout, sea trout and salmon is the thing at countless rivers and lakes in all of Patagonia.
Horse riding is a different way to experience the countryside. Everywhere in Chile except the northern desert-area are offered longer trips on horseback.
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