Backpacking in Chile on a Gap Year

Countries  »  Chile

Why go?

A Gap Year in Chile

Chile is less travelled by backpackers compared to some of its other South American neighbours which, frankly, is ridiculous. It should be an essential part of any gap year around Latin America, not only because of its vibrant cities and stunning scenery, but also because you'll find its trails less crowded than neighbouring Argentina and Brazil.

The amazing coastline of Chile

The cities

Your first point of call on a gap year in Chile is likely to be Santiago, the capital city, nestled in a valley surrounded by the snow-capped Andes and the Chilean Coastal Range - it's an incredible place to be even before you've begun to explore. There are plenty of colonial landmarks, including the beautiful Royal Court Palace, and quaint cafes to wile away the days, before heading to Barrio Bellavista after dark for some intense nightlife.

Vina del Mar and Valparaiso both offer long stretches of pristine coastline and beaches, and if you're venturing into the Atacama you'll probably stop in San Pedro de Atacama in the north, where the sky shimmers with stars as night falls.

Santiago, capital city of Chile

The scenery

Chile has a coastline that stretches the same distance as Scotland to Nigeria. So its landscape includes mountains, desert, glaciers, beaches, and more. You really are spoiled for choice in what kind of scenery it offers during your backpacking adventure.

Torres del Paine is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the world, with endless mountain vistas and blocks of ice as big as your house. Punta de Choros benefits from the Humboldt current rolling up from Antarctica, offering glimpses of penguins, whales, and dolphins, and if you keep heading south you'll reach the Tierra del Fuego, characterised by vast, silent forests and grizzled ranchland. It's a land that feels truly wild and removed from civilisation.

The Easter Island heads

Don't forget Easter Island! It's one of the world's most isolated spots, and can eat up a huge amount of your trip as it's a long flight from Santiago, but it's worth it to see the mysterious stone heads and the incredible night skies. Oh, the things you'll see on your Chile gap year!


Enjoy Red Hot Chile

We've got a wide range of tours and projects you can do in Chile on your gap year. You might want to explore the country at your own pace or have someone show you around. The reason Chile is less visited is money - it enjoys a far more developed economy and is more expensive than Peru or Bolivia. But it's still affordable, and Chile has lots for the adventurous backpacker, like its renowned wine regions and a cool capital, Santiago, which has a real buzz and mixes European style with Latin exoticism. Here are just a few travel options.

Experience Chile

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Advice & Tips on Backpacking in Chile

Chile may be long and narrow, but there's a wide range of things you can do there. See what we did there? Yeah, sorry... Anyway, there's loads to do and the country is so ridiculously beautiful that we thought you might want some pointers on things to do in Chile and other useful stuff like getting around, food and tips on language. That and an interview with a hero of ours that cycled the length of Chile!

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