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The Central Valley Travel Guide

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  • Photo: MARCELODLT / Shutterstock

Plan Your Central Valley Vacation

The Central Valley is the most abundant valley in Chile, not just for fruit and grape production, but also for the wealth of adventure: hiking the Andes, steaming in thermal pools, scaling rocks, or heli-skiing down snowy slopes. At the coast, you can tan on the lovely beaches, surf world-class waves, and nosh on outstanding seafood. In between, indulge in some of the finest wines South America

has to offer while enjoying the laidback charm of rural life.

The Central Valley is Chile's agricultural heartland. The rich soil benefits from ample spring melt-water for irrigation and long, warm, and dry summers. Grapes especially thrive, and wine has been an important product in much of the Central Valley for the past four centuries.

The Central Valley is a straight shot down the Pan-American Highway between the volcanic cones of the Andes on the west and the lower Coastal Mountains to the east. As you head south, the relatively dry foliage of the short, scrubby indigenous bushes gives way to verdant pastures and thick pine and eucalyptus forests.

It's about a five-hour drive straight south from Santiago to Chillán and nearly another hour east to Concepción, but plan to stop and explore along the way. Most valleys have Wine Route (Ruta del Vino) associations, which are happy to help visitors plan tours of the wineries, as are most hotels.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Wine tasting The Central Valley is the heart of Chile's wine country. Vineyards for both table and wine grapes cover the landscape—in fact, the Pan-American Highway runs through some of the longest continuous vineyards in the world. There is ample opportunity to taste the delicious product, too, from full-bodied reds at BBQs to crisp whites by the pool.
  2. Rowdy rodeos The Central Valley is also home to the huaso, a cousin of the Argentine gaucho. Huasos, in their typical flat-topped, wide-brimmed hats, are a common sight around Rancagua, where they flock to the national Medialuna (rodeo arena) for their favorite sport.
  3. Scenic countryside The Central Valley is not limited to vineyards. Rivers and lakes lie between hillsides dotted with cactus and fruit trees. Venture east into the Andes countryside and the dirt roads weaving the high mountaintops pass pretty waterfalls and swimming holes, perfect for exploring on foot, bike, or horseback.

When To Go

When to Go

Timing your visit to the Central Valley really depends on what you want to do there. January and February are peak summer vacation months in...

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Check historic weather for your trip dates:

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