Weather in Chile
Chile is a vast country spanning most of the west coast of South America. Chile is sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Andes Mountains to the south. It shares eastern borders with Argentina, while Peru is situated to the north of Chile and Bolivia is in the northeast. Chile’s climate is as varied as its terrain. The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is one of the driest places in the world, while Santiago in central Chile enjoys a relaxing Mediterranean climate. The southern end of Chile is situated close to Antarctica and has a temperate climate with lots of rain.
Situated in the southern hemisphere, Chile’s seasons are opposite to those experienced in Britain and North America. Spring takes place in September and November and summer occurs from December to February and early March. Autumn in Chile starts in late March and lasts until May and then winter arrives and spans June, July and August. The climate in Chile doesn’t fit into a neat category, particularly because the country is so long and thin, in fact Chile enjoys seven climate types. However, the easiest way to determine the weather in Chile is to divide the country into three sections, north, central and southern Chile.
One of the advantages of Chile being such a thin country is that it is possible to go skiing in the Andes and then tanning on a beach within a couple of hours. Thus the eastern side of Chile in the Andes mountains experiences cooler temperatures throughout the year because of the high altitude. The coastal side of the country is slightly warmer because it borders the ocean, but again this depends on the season and latitude with the south being much colder than the north.
Easter Island is a notable exception to Chile’s climate patterns. This island is situated off the coast of Chile and enjoys a humid, subtropical maritime climate. Low temperatures in winter dip to 18°C (64°F) and the highest temperature in summer generally reaches 28°C (82°F). The island gets rainfall throughout the year but the rainiest time of year is autumn, particularly during April.
Climate and Weather in northern Chile
The climate in northern Chile is best described by looking at the Atacama Desert. Chile’s Atacama Desert is the driest place in the world with its average rainfall amounting to 1mm (0.04 inches) per year. Areas around the Atacama experience slightly less extreme conditions. There is a large difference between the day and nighttime temperatures in this part of Chile. Average summer temperatures in northern Chile range from nightly lows of 4°C (39°F) and daytime highs of 24°C (75°F). Winter temperatures in the Atacama region of Chile drop to -1°C (30°F) at night and can reach 21°C (70°F) during the day.
Climate and Weather in central Chile
The weather in central Chile is typical of a Mediterranean climate. Summers are warm and winters are much cooler and wetter. The average high temperature during summer in Santiago is 20°C (68°F), while winter lows between June and July drop to 8°C (46°F). June and July are also the rainiest months in central Chile. This is the best time to go skiing in the Andes just a few hours from Santiago.
Climate and Weather in southern Chile
The climate in southern Chile ranges from a temperate oceanic climate to a sub-polar oceanic climate in the extreme south of the country. Cooling winds coming off the Andes mean that the weather in southern Chile is cold and the temperature seldom peaks above 17°C (62°F) in summer. Winter temperatures are generally much colder and the average high temperature for the winter months of June and July is generally below 7°C (45°F) in the low-lying areas and much colder in the mountainous and glacial regions. The southern tip of Chile doesn’t really experience the different seasons; rather the weather is cold throughout the year with rainfall in April and May and snow from May until September.
When is the best time to go to Chile
Most people choose to visit Chile during summer as the beaches and seafood are not to be missed. However, the winter months from May to August offer equally exciting opportunities. Chile has some great ski resorts just a few hours from Santiago. Many visitors flock to southern Chile in spring to view the glaciers and tundra. In short, Chile is a year round destination. The weather in Chile allows a host of outdoor activities throughout the year. The Chilean summer vacation occurs between December to March, so many of the beaches and attractions may be crowded during this period. The best holiday deals to Chile tend to be available from April to September.
What to Pack
Visitors heading to Chile for the beaches should pack beachwear as well as a light jumper for the cooler evenings. Wine tasting is a popular activity during summer in Chile so some light linen or cotton daywear is also a necessity. Holidaymakers embarking on a skiing holiday in Chile will need to pack warm clothes. Skiing equipment is also available to rent at the ski resorts. Travellers to the south and north of Chile should pack warm clothes regardless of the time of year. The south is generally cold throughout the year and the northern Atacama Desert may be warm during the day but the temperature drops dramatically at night.