For travellers who relish the freedom to explore independently, the Colchagua Valley is a rewarding region to discover by self-drive hire car. Some of Chile's finest wines are produced in these pretty, sunlit valleys, and many of the wineries welcome visitors. A distant Andean backdrop, sweeping views of vineyards and picturesque small towns add to the pleasure of discovering the Ruta del Vino independently.
Continue by air to the lake district and collect your next car. You’ll immediately notice the difference in vegetation and topography: here meadows and pasture are dotted with pine forest-fringed, sapphire lakes overlooked by snowy volcanic cones. The roads here lead you to isolated settlements and soothing hot springs.
Head further south into deepest Patagonia to explore the primeval landscapes of glaciers, scoured valleys and needle-sharp mountain peaks, jacketing in ancient ice. This is real wilderness country but the roads are generally good quality and you can relax to enjoy the magnificent scenery.