This is the end of Chile's winter season and for those who live in the northern hemisphere looking for the white stuff, this is the place to be. Snow blankets Chile's southern Andes from June to August, so there's still time to hit the slopes. Meanwhile, Central Chile and Santiago have more of a Mediterranean climate with highs in the mid 60s and only a few days of rain. It'll get warmer and drier the further you head north into the desert.
For southern Patagonia, it can still get quite cold and very wet in the winter, but rains start to lessen slightly in August.
Crowds & Costs
August is a great option for those who like to skip the crowds and avoid paying top dollar. As for the ski resorts, prices lessen in August now that kids and parents are back in their normal routines after taking a winter break (July). In general, this is your chance to travel all over the country with few other travelers, so you'll find more flexibility with last-minute accommodations and travel arrangements. Keep in mind that transport services are at a minimum in Patagonia this time of year, but with spring on the horizon, things begin to pick up again.
Where to Go
Chile's thin, yet extensive 2653-mile length offers plenty of outdoor options ranging from artsy adobe villages to beachy surf towns to glaciers in the far south.
For skiing, snowboarding, and heli-skiing, you'll want to hit the resorts. Most local skiers head to Portillo, one of Chile’s most famous ski resorts known for powder, steep slopes, and also close proximity to the capital (about two hours by car). But an even more notable mountain further south is Termas de Chillán, a beautiful ski area just over an hour from the town of Chillán. Termas offers excellent snow quality along with upscale mountain-style hotels, spa services, and several choices for restaurants and bars. It is also blessed with natural hot springs from nearby volcanic waters—a spectacular way to end a day on the slopes.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you'd rather hit the beach, it's best to head all the way north towards Chile’s northernmost city of Arica, practically at the border of Peru. With a year-round, springlike climate and string of pleasant beaches, Arica has become a popular area for vacationing Chileans. You can also take day-trips to the nearby Azapa and Lluta valleys to experience tiny settlements and archaeological history.
What to Do
In addition to the ski opportunities, this is a great time of year to explore Santiago and Valparaiso's food and culture scene, especially when paired with day-trips to nearby vineyards. You can also take part in relaxing activities in the dry north, like the Elqui Valley for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, while at night, the area offers one the purest skies for stargazing, with about a half-dozen observatories in the area. You can also visit charming villages known for pisco making while sampling native fruits and vegetables.
The Atacama Desert offers plenty in the way of unique scenery including petroglyphs, geysers, salt flats, and of course you'll want to watch a sunset in the Moon Valley while sampling local wine and cheese.
Events in August
Fiesta de Santa Rosa de Lima. This huge Catholic celebration on August 30th offers a colorful street procession.
Festival de Jazz de Ñuñoa. Held in late August, this free winter jazz fest brings together Chile's best jazz acts for a weekend of music.
Traveling to Chile in August? Check out these great itineraries.
Santiago & the Lake District. Kick off this 5-day Chilean sojourn in Santiago for a day of cultural and culinary delights. You'll then fly south for activities surrounding native forests, hot springs, glaciers, and waterfalls. Base yourself in the traveler hub of Pucón for lakeside strolls with views of one of Chile's most active volcanoes—not to mention international eats ranging from Middle Eastern to French to Peruvian.
Elqui Valley & Atacama Desert. Explore two regions of Chile where few travelers venture on this 9-day itinerary. After checking out Santiago, you'll fly to the northern coast for day trips to offshore islands and Elqui Valley wine country. From here, head to the Atacama desert—an oasis in the driest part in the world known for its geysers, salt flats, and starry skies. If that's not enough, you'll also meet local indigenous communities on a guided cultural excursion.