On Friday 4 November 2016, I embarked on my Chilean adventure in Sydney where I experienced a guided tour onboard the Chilean naval ship, Esmeralda which was followed by a cocktail reception at Ovolo Woolloomooloo where I learnt all about Chile – a destination of many contrasts and adventures in the Pacific.
Esmeralda arrived in Sydney on Thursday 3 November 2016 and will depart Sydney on Monday 7 November 2016. It is a steel-hulled, four-masted barquentine, which is 113 metres long and has a mast height of 48.5 metres. The ship has a long and proud history of training Chilean sailors and is a right of passage for Chilean Navy personnel.
Chile is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow strip of land between the Andes to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Chilean territory includes the Pacific islands of Juan Fernandez, Salas y Gomez, Desventuradas and Easter Island.
Chile is a country of contrasts. In the north of Chile there is the arid Atacama Dessert. In the centre of Chile is where the population lives and agriculture is concentrated. In the south of Chile is where there are many forests, volcanoes, lakes, fjords, canals and islands.
The Atacama desert (in the north) is the world’s driest desert. On the high Andean plateau, there are small villages at up to 4,000 meters above sea level where timeless traditions linger. San Pedro de Atacama contains vast salt flats, active geysers and intense blue lagoons.
Santiago, in central Chile, is the multi-faceted capital of Chile, with its fine parks and numerous sporting and cultural activities. Central Chile has the best ski slopes in South America, that is just a two hour road journey from the the coast to the mountain. The valleys of central Chile also contain vineyards where Chile makes some of the world’s best red and white wines.
Across the water from Santiago is the Easter Island (known as Rapa Nui in the people’s native language). Rapa Nui has pink-sand beaches, volcanic cones and windswept grasslands, and of course, the monumental moai statues – over 1,000 of them bearing silent witness to a long-lost, complex society.
The south of Chile contains the unique living heritage of the original inhabitants of Chile. The Mapuche culture is a fundamental element in the central Chilean heartland with the indigenous traditions that are still alive.
Southern Chile has countless lakes and rivers that are perfect for watersports and fishing. There is also extraordinary flora and fauna at nature reserves and national parks. Pucón, on the shores of Lake Villarrica, has adrenaline-filled white-water rafting, hydrospeed or canyoning.
Further south in Patagonia there is truly unspoiled wilderness of mountains, fjords, glaciers, forests and steppes. Patagonia’s has a rich ranching history and gaucho lifestyle with far-flung cities and pioneer towns.
Torres del Paine National Park has truly magnificent forests, mountains, waterfalls, lakes and stunning views of the Southern Ice Fields.
At the southernmost extreme of the American continent, there are countless sea fjords and channels and the famous Straits of Magellan (where people sail to Antarctica). Cape Horn is the southernmost tip of the continent.
For more information about Chile, go to: http://chile.travel/en/