There are wondrous places in Chile that Elder Archuleta most probably will not get to see while busy on his mission. Perhaps he will make a trip back there one day in the future to visit more of this beautiful country that he will have spent two years of his life.
Chile is a country of extreme contrasts from volcanoes of the Andes Mountains to ancient rainforests and from the Atacama Desert in the north to massive glaciers in the south. In between these areas are waterfalls, beaches, lakes, rivers, forests and islands. If you visit the north, south, east and west of Chile in one day you have the possibility of experiencing all four seasons. With these unusual changes in temperature and weather, Chile attracts thousands of tourists each year. If you’ve ever wondered how long Chile is, it’s approximately the length from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean or from the west coast to the east coast of the U.S. And at it’s widest point, it stretches for only 112 miles.
Come with me to do some virtual sightseeing through Chile to find places that David may want to visit should he decide to return. Aside from the tourist attractions which look awesome, by the way, there are some not as famous places that David may find appealing, too.
The penguins of Punta de Arenas
Punta Arenas in Magdalena Island, a popular tourist attraction in Chile has one of the largest penguin breeding sites. The island was named a national nature reserve because many years ago, commercial fishing in this area caused the penguin population to decline. But through a ban on commercial fishing, penguins were protected and penguin populations have increased.
Every fall, penguins leave the safety of the ocean, their natural habitat, and march for twenty days to a place called “Oamack”. That’s where they choose their mates, procreate, protect and feed their offspring and after a while they return to the sea. Later, their babies go to the ocean, where they stay for four years, and when they reach their adult life, they follow the same pattern of their parents. → These creatures are a sight to behold!
Easter Island and the Moais, the giant volcanic rock statues
Easter Island, a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean between Chile and Tahiti and now a national park was isolated for centuries from the outside world. Stumbled upon by Dutch settlers on Easter in 1772, the majority of the population are original inhabitants, Rapanui people, who developed their own distinctive culture best known by the moai, huge statues with elongated faces carved out of volcanic ash thousands of years ago. How and why the moai were built is a mystery. Each one weighs over 20 tons and is about 70 feet tall. There are hundreds of them on the island, some in rows, others laying broken on the ground. Some say Easter Island is the most enchanting place in the world place to watch the sunset. There are other activities to do on Easter Island, like going to the beach, taking a tour of the volcanic craters, diving and surfing.
Cerro San Cristóbal
Cerro San Cristóbal is a hill in Santiago, the capitol of Chile, with a beautiful view overlooking the city and, on a clear day, the Andes Mountains. At the top of the hill is a 72 foot statue of the Virgin Mary that can be reached by cable car or a long hike. I doubt that Elder Archuleta has had a chance to hike or take a ride on a cable car to see the view in Santiago. Cerro San Cristóbal has Santiago’s largest public park with a botanical garden and zoo.
World’s Largest Swimming Pool
You don’t have to be a swimmer to be curious about this, the world’s largest man-made outdoor pool at a resort in Algarrobo, a small town on Chile‘s central coast. The pool is the size of 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools! It’s filled with 66 million gallons of crystal clear seawater that it gets from the ocean and it’s warmth from the sun. It was listed officially as the largest (3/5 of a mile) and the deepest (115 feet) swimming pool in the Guinness Book of World Records in December of 2006. Why build a pool right near the ocean? Simple. The water in the nearby coast is cold and dangerous. Swimming is prohibited.
The 6000 foot granite walls of Torres del Paine National Park
Torres Del Paine is a national park located in the south of Chile, The park‘s main attraction are the three giant granite peaks that were carved out by glaciers. The peaks rise 8200 feet above ground. The park has dramatic landscapes, lakes, mountains, glaciers, valleys and forests with exotic birds roaming the area. It’s also popular for hiking and rock climbing. Because of it’s beauty, this park is referred to as “heaven on earth”.
Valle Nevado in the Andes Mountains
Does David ski or snowboard? I don’t know but the most popular skiing resort in South America is in Chile and draws skiers from all over the world, equipped with bilingual experts, not that David would need one. A helicopter drops skiers from the top of the mountain for a ride down the hill.
Valle de la Luna
Valle de la Luna is located in the Atacama Desert, some parts of which have not received rain in 200 or more years. This scene is the result of centuries of wind and floods on sand and stone. The large sand dunes and stone formations mimic the surface of the moon, and gave the area it’s name which translated means “Valley of the Moon”.
The Viña del Mar International Song Festival
I think David would enjoy this song festival held annually during February since 1960 in Viña del Mar, Chile. It is considered the most important musical event in South America. It competes in two categories, pop music and folk songs, interspersed with performances by artists from all over the world.
This snow-capped volcano looks harmless but it is active. When there’s no seismic activity in the crater, visitors can make their way up to the top either by hiking or on a guided tour. For a close look into the bubbling volcano, helicopters fly overhead regularly. It takes 4 to 6 hours to get up and then down this volcano. The way down is a combination of sledding and walking.
The glaciers of Tierra Del Fuego
The Tierra Del Fuego or “Land of Fire” got it’s name from Ferdinand Magellan who spotted fires burning along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in 1520. Tierra Del Fuego is an archipelago (an expanse of water with many scattered islands) near Antarctica, comprised by channels and lakes, the ocean, forests and the Andes Mountains. The climate is windy with much rainfall and cold but warmer than one would assume. In winter, the average temperature 28 Fahrenheit. In summer, it rarely rises far beyond 50 Fahrenheit.
The House of Eleven Women
Angelica found this and passed it along to me. Casa 11 Mujeres is a house on top of a cliff near Santiago built to fit a family with eleven daughters, from age four to twenty. Built on a 45 degree slope, the house is actually a vacation home that stands on a site sloping down with a view of Cachagua Beach on the Pacific Ocean. It has three levels and space for entertaining.
I’m sure Elder Archuleta has already learned about many of these places when talking to local Chileans and to people he’s met on his mission. He’s probably learned of these and many more. The combination of historical places, cultural sites and natural wonders make Chile a special place for relaxation, fun and learning. The beautiful beaches, ski resorts and mountain range add to the appeal. If he chooses to visit Chile again in the future, he is sure to have a memorable experience.