I spent a month in Chile & Peru in November. USA citizens receive a free tourist visa upon arrival into both countries. In Chile, I spent 11 days paragliding in Iquique, located in the Atacama Desert in the far north of Chile.
Summary of My Time in Chile
Typically I travel solo, but in this case I spent my time in the Atacama Desert paragliding with my instructor from the USA.
- Santiago, in central Chile – 4 days sightseeing with 3 different Couchsurfing hosts. I stayed in an apartment booked through TripAdvisor. Also stayed 1 night with a Couchsurfing host.
- Iquique, in the Atacama Desert – 11 days paragliding with my instructor and fellow students from home. Our group lodged at the Altazor Hostel. Minimal cultural experience.
Chile & Peru are in different timezones. Additionally, Chile no longer has daylight savings time, so its clock does not change in spring and autumn.
Chile uses the peso, and the exchange rate was about 700 pesos to USD $1 during my trip.
Paraglide in Iquique, Chile
Northern Chile’s winds off the Pacific Ocean towards land provide excellent year-round paragliding. Many people visit Iquique either with a group from home or get lessons from a local paragliding school.
Spending so much time with a group from the USA was a new experience for me. We ate most of our meals together, and went into town together. Occasionally we ate local food, but generally someone in our group cooked for us, so ate local food prepared in ways we were familiar with.
Paragliding Over the Atacama Desert
It was amazing catching thermals high over the desert and soaring over (and landing in) sand dunes. I also landed on the various beaches. Watching the others come in after me was fun. We were all so excited to have flown well and landed safely.
Each morning we launched from Alto Hospicio, high above Iquique. Catching thermals and flying as high as possible was the goal. If you could fly high enough and continue catching more thermals, you could then fly over the high-voltage power lines to another cliffside. At that cliffside, we used the lift to rise up high again. Back and forth and back again, gaining altitude was the goal. Upon reaching the necessary height, we then flew as directly as possible to the farthest beach, flying over the city itself.
Iquique is one of the few cities in the world where paragliders are permitted to fly over buildings. You really must have enough height at the start, or you risk landing among buildings and power lines.
Paragliding at Palo Buque
Starting near the bottom of sand dunes, the goal was to kite your way uphill, until you could launch into the air. From then, you fly very close to the ground uphill. Because of the unique conditions of the hillside and wind, this type of paragliding is unique. Typically, a paraglider launches off the top of a hill.
Read more about Chile… Santiago Paragliding Atacama Desert — Coming soon!
Valle de la Luna, Chile
I did not visit Valle de la Luna in the Atacama Desert, but Naomi from Probe Around the Globe did. Read her Photo Guide to Valle de la Luna!
I did not buy a Chile gudebook for this trip, since I was mainly with a group. If you have Amazon Prime, you can get this book for free on the Kindle app sometimes. Or, use the free library app, called OverDrive.
What’s your favorite Chile memory? Or, which places are on your wishlist? Comment below!
Arequipa, Peru Travel Photography – Santa Catalina Monastery, a picture of blues and reds