Chile: travel books to read before you go

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This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Chile & Easter Island guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip.

Charles Darwin’s time-honored Voyage of the Beagle is a perfect companion for trips around Chile, with descriptions as fresh as if he’d just disembarked the Navimag ferry.

Ariel Dorfman’s Desert Memories is an evocative trawl through Chile’s thirsty north, touching on its most ancient and recent past, written by one of Chile’s top literary figures.

Fans of verse should grab a copy of The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems by Pablo Neruda edited by Mark Eisner.

The most famous (some say infamous) Patagonian travelogue is Bruce Chatwin’s classic In Patagonia, an inspirational and enigmatic Cubist synthesis of Patagonian characters and landscape.

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Against the Wall by Simon Yates (of Touching the Void fame) is a ripping yarn for armchair mountaineers about a punishing expedition to climb the world’s largest vertical rock face.

Sara Wheeler’s Travels in a Thin Country is a fun meander through the country from tip to tail, without delving too deeply.

The young Che Guevara’s iconic Motorcycle Diaries charts his laddish romp through Chile and beyond in the 1950s; to bring the story up to date, try Patrick Symmes’ Chasing Che.

Part travelogue, part autobiography, Full Circle: A South American Journey is a provocative journey through Chile by Luis Sepúlveda, who was exiled for many years. His other works, including Patagonia Express are also well worth reading.

The Last Cowboys at the End of the World: The Story of the Gauchos of Patagonia, by Nick Reding, is a fascinating account of the oft-overlooked culture of Chile’s southern gauchos.

More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found here.