San Pedro de Atacama Region
Just outside the small village of San Pedro there are intriguing archaeological, steaming hot springs and stunning landscapes. One of the big must-see attractions is here: the Valle de la Muerte, with its otherworldly scenery and a big dune that's perfect for sand-boarding.
Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve
The newly paved road from Lago Pirihueico, 101km east of Valdivia and 80km south of Villarrica, to Puerto Fuy parallels the scenic Río Huilo-Huilo, which tumbles and falls through awe-inspiring scenery to the impressive Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve, a spectacular low-impact ecotourism conservation project that falls within a much larger Unesco biosphere reserve.
Santiago's four most popular ski centers – Farellones/El Colorado, La Parva and Valle Nevado – are clustered in three valleys, hence their collective name, Tres Valles. Although they're only 30km to 40km northeast of Santiago, the traffic-clogged road up can be slow going. All prices given here are for weekends and high season (usually early July to mid-August).
Of all the towns in the Villarrica municipality, Lican Ray (meaning 'flower among the stones' in Mapudungun) is the prettiest for its location on the lovely north shore of island-studded Lago Calafquén. Just 30km south of Villarrica, this bathing resort is home to a long black-sand beach, ash-strewn roads and a remarkable leafy Plaza de Armas.
Rustic Ensenada, 45km along a picturesque shore-hugging road from Puerto Varas, is really nothing more than a few restaurants, hospedajes and adventure outfitters, but it's a nice natural setting in full view of three majestic beasts: Volcán Osorno, Volcán Calbuco and Volcán Puntiagudo.
The unassuming market town of Ovalle on the north bank of the Río Limarí is the capital of the prosperous agricultural province of Limarí. This workaday place is more famous for its surrounding attractions than its own modest charms, but it can be a useful base for exploring the area.
Southwest of Valdivia, where the Río Valdivia and the Río Tornagaleones join the Pacific, lie several 17th-century Spanish fortifications that are well worth a visit on pleasant day trips from the city. Niebla, especially, is pleasant – the coastal town emits a northern California beach-town vibe and is an easy escape from Valdivia.
Peninsula de Rilán
Chiloé's raw beauty is everywhere, but escaping to some of the island's more remote corners is even more poetic. The Peninsula de Rilán is home to a few far-flung top-end lodges and guesthouses that beautifully hide themselves away among the island's remote and rugged nature.