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Discover the 5 Natural Regions of Chile

Cheap car rental Chile Kemwel

With its astounding biodiversity, imposing geography, and signature "skinny" shape, many consider Chile to be one of the most unique South American travel destinations for a variety of reasons. Simply take a look at any map to see how its terrain extends 4,270 km (2,653 mi) from north to south but 177 km (110 mi) east to west; making it the world’s “thinnest” country. Despite its stature, each of Chile's five natural regions offers adventure seekers something special, whether that be trekking up Osorno Volcano or learning how to surf in Pichilemu. No matter where you go, all of this can be easily explored with a low-cost Chile car rental from the Kemwel booking engine!

Suffice to say that Chile could also be the planet’s most geographically isolated nations with such extreme nature on all four sides. From the arid Atacama Desert to the north, the Andes to the east, sub-polar conditions in Patagonia to the south, not to mention the sprawling Pacific Ocean to the west; no wonder so many people consider Chile to be an outdoor wonderland waiting to be explored! 

Hit the road with your car rental in Chile

While Chilean tourism has been frozen since March 2020 due to COVID-19, approximately 7 million international arrivals came in 2018. This number will likely continue to grow once borders open back up, especially with an average of 250,000 yearly visitors going to Torres del Paine National Park for some renowned hiking.

Ultimately, an advanced road and highway system allows travelers to hop from one attraction to another, all the way from Arica to Punta Arenas if you’re ready to traverse from north to south in 60 hours with your discount Chile car rental! This certainly contributes to a seamless experience in Chile where our car rental partner Econorent manages varied fleets for Kemwel customers.

Ranging from the Atacama salt flats where endemic flamingos abound to the serene fjords and jagged peaks of Patagonia, Chile epitomizes adventure tourism. Rather than depending on long bus trips or flying to get around, keep in mind that a car rental in Chile will be the most efficient way to experience all 16 of its regions. In terms of ecosystems, these regions can be categorized into five “natural regions” including Norte Grade, Norte Chico, Zona Central, Zona Sur, and Zona Austral.

Whether you’re traveling to Chile to learn Spanish or simply snack on street sopaipillas (fried bread made from a pumpkin dough), the following blog post will be a great resource for any aspiring road trippers out there! Continue reading to learn more about the many cities and landmarks to be seen with a Chile car rental from Kemwel!

Road trip in Norte Grande, Chile

Moon Valley Chile Kemwel

Meaning Big North in Spanish, Norte Grande consists of three arid regions: Arica y Parinacota, Tarapacá, and Antofagasta. Sharing a border with Peru and Bolivia, this is where visitors will encounter some breathtaking Andean mountains, ancient geoglyphs, as well as vibrant Aymara, Quechua and Atacameños communities. Towns such as San Pedro de Atacama near Antofagasta serve as a gateway into the Atacama Desert where flamingos run wild and Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon) offer breathtaking views. Salar de Talar with its many salt lakes, the explosive El Tatio geysers, and the altiplano Lauca National Park near Arica are other places that you won’t want to miss in Norte Grande!

Road trip in Norte Chico, Chile

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile Kemwel

Journey south to Norte Chico (Small North) where the agricultural regions of Atacama and Coquimbo attract visitors for its prime hiking in the Elqui Valley as well as its advanced astronomy research centers! Some of these include the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory and La Silla Observatory, both of which have humongous telescopes for intergalactic star-gazing with astonishingly clear visibility. Popular urban centers also include the seaside city of La Serena with its famous lighthouse plus Copiapó.

Road trip in Central Chile

Central Chile Kemwel

Most of Chile’s population is based around the center between the regions of Valparaiso, the Metropolitan Region, Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins, as well as Maule. Granted that this is the most urbanized part of the country, there is still a surprising amount of outlets for city dwellers to embark on some outdoor adventures! Equipped with your Santiago car rental, for example, you will be able to drive to the Cajón del Maipo gorge for some boulder jumping, mountain biking, climbing, among other "extreme" sport activities! For a little rest and relaxation, visit the home of the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda in Isla Negra or take a wine-tasting tour at a vineyard in the Maipo Valley outside of Santiago. Smaller cities such as Concepcion and Viña del Mar will also make great weekend trips with your Chile car rental from Kemwel!

Road trip in Zona Sur, Chile

Zona Sur Chile Kemwel

Snow-capped mountains, misty tropical Valdivian temperate rainforests, quaint fishing villages along the Chiloé Archipelago; these are some of the dreamy sites that you will find in Southern Chile! Consisting of the Nuble, Biobio, Araucania and Rios regions, this expansive zone is often hailed as the most beautiful in Chile. Small coastal towns like Niebla near Valdivia boast a handful of secluded beaches that are great for surfing or kayaking around the Corral Bay! Other major cities include Puerto Montt with its ferry terminal that goes to Chiloé as well as Puerto Varas where German-style architecture and alpine lakes make it seem as though you have suddenly appeared in Central Europe!

Road trip in Zona Austral, Chile

Zona Austral Chile Kemwel

Further south is when all of your surrounding will start to get particularly more extreme. Look at the window and you be see the Strait of Magellan in the background or Tierra del Fuego in the distance. Between the Aysen and Magallanes regions of Zona Austral (Southernmost Zone) are where glaciers, windswept steppes full of grazing sheep and emerald fjords embellish the landscape. Cities like Punta Arenas serve as a hub for motivated trekkers en route to Torres del Paine National Park for week long excursions of camping and hiking. Go any further south of Punta Arenas and you may end up in Chilean Antarctica!

Other fun facts about Chile

  • Chile is home to world’s largest swimming pool measuring the length of nine football fields
  • The Atacama Desert in the north is the world’s driest with less than 15 mm (0.6 in) of rainfall per year
  • In regards to worldwide wine production, Chile is the ninth-largest producer
  • Rapa Nui (Easter Island, home of the famous mo'ai monolithic statues) and Juan Fernández Islands (home to the famous Robinson Crusoe Island) are also Chilean territories

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