The onset of autumn in Chile introduces cooler temperatures and colorful foliage throughout the whole country, though this varies according to the geographic location (Chile is, after all, 2653 miles long). The northern part of the country is still hot, while the central part of the country is temperate and Mediterranean—a great time to see wildflowers, changing fall leaves, and take part in harvest festivals in Chile’s wine country.
The further south you travel, the more extreme the weather conditions become. Some areas of Patagonia become totally inaccessible in winter months, so going now—during shoulder season—is a smart move, especially after the summer winds die down. Wherever you go, it's best to pack layers and outdoor weather gear in case of rain.
Crowds & Costs
March is a bit of a transitional month, with summertime crowds thinning out by mid-month. Traveling during the beginning of this autumn shoulder season means better prices and fewer international tourists. Locals also get back into their routines after taking vacations in February making the beaches and Lake District less crowded, as well. March is also a great time to head to Easter Island after the crowds have eased off from their two-week festival in February.
Where to Go
This is still a great month for hiking with dry skies in Patagonia and the Andes. For instance, you can conquer the "W" trek in Torres del Paine National Park where you'll hike past turquoise lakes, emerald forests, roaring rivers, and a massive glacier while camping along the way. For a more luxury experience, you can take a tour of the park's highlights with an experienced guide while staying in the cozy domes of EcoCamp Patagonia with some of the best views in Patagonia, not to mention excellent food and wine.
Another option is the Atacama Desert since temperatures start to cool off making daytime trip takes place in a high-altitude desert on the mainland for sand dunes, geysers, hot springs, and starry skies. You'll likely base yourself in San Pedro de Atacama, the embarkation point for all excursions and adventures into the Atacama Desert. By day you'll be surrounded by towering Andean peaks and the otherworldly sand dunes and rock formations in the Moon Valley. At night astronomy tours are readily available where you'll be able to spot a wide array of celestial objects.
What to Do
Chile is still running on all fours this time of year so there's nothing that should be left off the plate in terms of outdoor adventures or sightseeing. This is a great month to check out the harvest festivals, which are attended by very few foreigners, allowing attendees to get the local experience. Certain vineyards even offer work stints during harvest season for those who are interested in more than a simple tasting.
In the Lake District, you can find plenty of adrenaline-inducing activities like skydiving, white-water rafting, and zip lining. For some relaxation, towns like Vina del Mar, and further up the coast are still experiencing summer weather, so it's a great time to hit the sand, or head to Elqui Valley's adobe villages for culture and a range of health and wellness activities. Valparaiso and Santiago are two cities rising in terms of international popularity with a range of cool neighborhoods, street art, and trendy restaurants.
Events in March
Lollapalooza Chile. Each year in mid-March, Santiago's Parque O'Higgins hosts the Chile-based version of the popular music festival with up to 60 bands. Kids, for their part, can take part in the adjoining Kidsapalooza.
Fiesta de la Vendimia. These wine harvest festivals are popular in Chile, and most towns in the wine regions will have one during the fall harvest (most fall in March and April). For instance, Casablanca's Plaza de Armas brings together wine lovers in its celebration of local grape harvests, featuring vineyards all over Casablanca Valley in late March. Santa Cruz in Chile's Colchagua Valley celebrates the grape harvest with stands from local wineries in the plaza, a crowned harvest queen, songs and folk dancing.
Traveling to Chile in March? Check out these great itineraries.
Chile's Iconic Wine Valleys. Calling all oenophiles: This guided 6-day tour is a chance to become a Chilean wine connoisseur. Starting in the capital city, you'll hit the open road for the country's best wine valleys offering an array of climates, varietals, and production techniques. There will be estates and vineyards to explore galore, as well as dozens of tastings—often paired with delectable local cuisine.
Torres del Paine "O" Circuit Adventure. This 11-day trip achieves the Paine Massif Circuit—commonly called the "O"—in Chile's Torres del Paine National Park. More adventurous than its sister trek, the "W" (which follows a portion of this trek), the "O" is suited for those seeking a lesser-visited and more challenging route. You'll also get two nights in Puerto Natales and an arrival day in Chile's capital with just enough time to check out the sites.