Geographically, Chile has to be one of the strangest countries in the world. Over 2,600 miles long yet on the average hardly more than 100 miles wide, Chile is sandwiched between a rock and wet place: the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The northern part of the country is mostly the bleak Atacama desert and worlds away from the lush Lake District that begins at Temuco and extends south to Puerto Montt. From Puerto Montt to Punta Arenas near the southern tip of the continent, Chile is a sparsely populated archipelago reaching into Chilean Patagonia.

I changed planes in the capital of Santiago, but otherwise saw nothing of the city. I went directly to Temuco, where I rented a car and spent the next five days meandering through the Lake District, past massive, snow-capped volcanoes, pristine lakes, lush green farms and fields covered with flowers. I eventually made my way to Puerto Montt, where I boarded a plane and flew almost another 1,000 miles south to Punta Arenas on the Strait of Magellan.

From Punta Arenas, I started working my way north to Puerto Natales, Torres del Paine National Park, the Serrano Glacier and eventually into Argentina. Torres del Paine was a fabulous experience that I highly recommend for anyone interested in hiking or sheer scenic splendor.

Compared to Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, Chile is highly developed, though in the Lake District one still sees dairy farmers making their way along the roads in horse-drawn wagons. The hotels meet a high standard, the seafood is very good and Chilean wines are well known for their quality – what more could one ask for in the midst of such natural beauty?

The photographs above present a brief overview of the places I visited in Chile. For more photos and detailed information, select a page from the list below.