Skiing & Snowboarding the Andes: Taking to the mountains not only has a certain cachet but also, in terms of exhilarating terrain, convivial ambience, and affordability, the Andes deliver awesome skiing and snowboarding opportunities in Chile from June to October. Portillo has been around for 54 years, and its steep chutes still raise fear in the hearts of those about to make the descent. Valle Nevado and Termas de Chillán have a full infrastructure that includes state-of-the-art spas. And, the après ski scene in the Andes is certainly ebullient. Heliskiing companies and Ski Arpa, a Snowcat-serviced resort, can get you to terrain where the only living thing you'll see is a condor sailing through the sky.
Follow in Darwin's footsteps and hike to the summit of Parque Nacional La Campana: Less than an hour's drive from Santiago, the precipitous lookout point of this lush national park was immortalized by Charles Darwin in Voyage of the Beagle; Darwin eulogized that never had he enjoyed a day so much than the one spent atop this mountain. It is a challenging but infinitely rewarding 8-hour trek to reach the summit at 5,905 feet. There are also several tamer trails which offer the unique opportunity to trek through dense concentrations of Palma Chilema, the world's southernmost species of palm tree.
Summiting a Volcano: There's something more thrilling about summiting a volcano than any old mountain, especially when the volcano threatens to blow at any given time. Chile is home to a large share of the world's volcanoes, some of which are perfectly conical and entirely feasible to climb, such as Volcán Villarrica in Pucón and Volcán Osorno near Puerto Varas. Active Villarrica is a relatively moderate climb to the gaseous crater, followed by a fun slide on your rear down a human toboggan chute. Osorno offers a more technical climb, roping up for a crampon-aided walk past glacier crevasses and caves. In the far north, perfect conical volcanoes include Parinacota, east of Arica, and Licancabur, near San Pedro, both on the border with Bolivia. And in southern Aysén, ice fields around San Valentín beckon adventurous climbers.
Rafting & Kayaking the Futaleufú River or Pacific Ocean: With churning river sections that are frightening enough to be dubbed "Hell" and "The Terminator," the Class V Futaleufú River, or the "Fu," as it's known, is solemnly revered by rafting and kayaking enthusiasts around the world as one of the most difficult to descend. A little too much white-knuckle excitement for your nerves? Rafting companies offer short-section rafting trips on the Futaleufú and down the tamer, crystalline waters of the neighboring Espolón River -- kayak schools use this stretch, too. The scenery here redefines mountain beauty. An alternative is sea kayaking along the Patagonian channels or around Isla Damas, at the southern fringe of the Atacama Desert, renowned for their teeming wildlife.
Casting a Line for Jumbo Trout: Chile has literally thousands of spots for fly-fishing, from the Lake District all the way down to the sub-Antarctic wilderness of Tierra del Fuego. Above all, the many lodges along the remote Carretera Austral draw fishing aficionados from around the world to rivers and lakes full of trout, weighing in from a pound to the hefty 8- to 10-pounders around Villa O'Higgins at the end of the road. Remember that the farther south you go, the shorter the season gets.
Trekking in Torres del Paine: Torres del Paine is one of the most spectacular national parks in the world, with hundreds of kilometers of trails through ever-changing landscapes of jagged peaks and one-of-a-kind granite spires, undulating meadows, milky turquoise lakes and rivers, and mammoth glaciers. The park has a well-organized system of refugios and campgrounds, but there are also several hotels, and visitors can access the park's major highlights on a day hike.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.