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Middle Chile

Getting around

One of the most fun options for getting around is by train. Newly revamped rail networks have made journey times swifter (although markedly more expensive), and it is a more interesting way to make your way down the spine of the country than the Panamericana highway. The rail service (600-585-5000; www.efe.cl) calls in at all the major towns, including Rancagua, Talca and Chillán, continuing right down to Temuco.

Otherwise, the obvious option is by bus. All the main towns have excellent connections, served invariably by several bus companies at regular intervals and reasonable fares. You can travel in as much or as little style as your budget will allow, choosing anything from fully reclining luxury to basic old rattlers that get you from A to B. Getting to some of the more isolated national parks and regions can be trickier. Some areas close due to snow in winter; for others, public transportation reduces to a mere trickle in low season. A few are not reachable by public transportation at all, and you may need to hire your own vehicle or hitchhike.

If you want to take part in a wine tour, your own vehicle is not a prerequisite. Vineyards and wine tours are becoming increasingly flexible, and may well be able to organize transportation if you arrange your visit in advance.