Chile is unique,a self-evident statement obviously. It’s the longest, thinnest country in the world with its length measured at 4,300 km long and its average width is 175 km. On its western side it’s hemmed in by the roiling waves of the Pacific Ocean, whilst its eastern border undulates itself across the Andes. It’s to this spectacular mountain range that I’m going to draw your attention to. Think of me as a kind of talking condor circling over this awe-inspiring environment, before reporting back what I’ve seen and what might be of interest to you.
The Andes mountain range covers not just Chile but six other Latin American nations, namely Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. This lengthy stretch of mountainous peaks (including well over 50 volcanoes) is divided into three general areas: the Northern Andes,Central Andes and Southern Andes. It is in the latter two regions that Chile features. Now admittedly the country doesn’t contain the highest mountain in the Andes that honour goes to Mt Aconcagua which rises to 6,959 m (22,831 ft.) above sea level and is found in neighbouring Argentina.
However Aconcagua only narrowly beats out Chile’s own Nevado Ojos del Salado which reaches 6,893 m (22,615 ft.) and is the highest volcano in the world.It’s no surprise that so many volcanoes are found in Chile as it’s the end point for the Pacific Ring of Fire. This area of volcanic and earthquake prone activity is shaped like an arc and rings many Pacific countries. You obviously can’t see it underneath all the rock formations that make up the Andes, but if you’ve seen pictures of the San Andreas Fault in the US then that hints at its existence.
As a result of Nevado Ojos del Salado being so close to the Atacama Desert there isn’t much snow on its slopes, so if you had a fantasy of skiing on it then forget it. If you have a passion for winter sports then you would be better off heading towards other Andean locations. How about Valle Nevado? It’s one of the most modern ski resorts in South America having been founded in 1988, and is open for business between June and October. If you’re looking for a more relaxed activity you could go hiking in the Andean Corridor of the Lakes (also known as the Los Lagos Region). Here you’ll come into contact with spectacular glacial lakes such as Lake Llanquihue and picturesque towns such as the German-influenced Puerto Varas.
Start imagining you’re there and breathing in that impossibly pure air.