In this article, you will get to know more about the different climates of Chile, along with the best time to hike

In this post, we will explain to you in details the variety of climates prevailing in Chile, and when the best time is to come and hike in Chile.

Chile is a very narrow and very long country. It measures approximately 4.600 kilometers (6.900 miles) from North to South, and only 300-kilometer wide. In other words, this means that the territory is variously affected by different types of climates, making generalizations almost impossible.

In the North of Chile, like the Atacama Desert and the northern coast, the climate is a desert-like type and semi-arid. Then, there is the Mediterranean climate in Central Chile along with the alpine tundra in the East and South-East. Finally, you will find an oceanic climate in Southern Chile, and the subtropical climate of the Eastern Island.

The seasons are opposite to Europe or North-America. Indeed, summer season starts in December and ends in March; Autumn is from March to May, Winter season from June to August and finally Spring from September to November.

Generally, the climate of Chile is strongly influenced by the cold Humboldt oceanic current, but also by the presence of the Andes Mountain Range and the Pacific Ocean. In addition, there are 4 different climate z0nes : Northern Chile, Central Chile, Southern Chile and Austral Chile.

In this post, we will explain to you in details the variety of climates prevailing in Chile, and when the best time is to come and hike in Chile.

Northern Chile

lagoon desert volcano

Cejar Lagoon, Atacama Desert

This is the most arid region of the country mainly due to the cold Humboldt oceanic current. All along the coast of the Pacific Ocean, there is always a constant fog, but the rains are scarce. The inside territory is formed by the Atacama Desert, one of the most arid of the planet Earth.

Usually, the average precipitation of the Antofagasta Region is only 1 millimeter of rain per year. In summer (December to February), the minimum temperature is approximately 17°C / 62°F and the maximum is 24°C /75°F. Whereas in winter (June to September), the maximum temperature is 17°C / 62°F and the minimum is 11°C / 52°F.

Central Chile

Colchagua Valley – Central Chile

The climate of Central Chile is a Mediterranean-type, characterized by well distinct seasons. Indeed, winters are cold and cloudy. In spring, the weather is nice and temperatures begin to raise. However, some rain might occur. In summer, the temperature reaches its maximum degree, with complete clear sky. During fall, prevails the nice weather.

In this part of Chile, the rainy season is between May and August. During summer, the Santiago area has an average temperature of 19°C / 66°F. The maximum being 29°C / 82°F, and the minimum 12°C / 54°F. During winter, the average temperature is 7°C / 45°F, the minimum being 3°C / 37°F and the maximum is 14°C / 57°F.

Southern Chile

Lanín Volcano – Lake and Volcano District

This region is characterized by an oceanic climate, humid and windy with low temperatures. In the Valdivia Region, the climate is temperate-oceanic. regarding temperature, in summer it can reach a maximum of 23°C / 73°F and a minimum of 11°C / 52°F. During winter, the maximum is 11°C / 52°F and the minimum is 4°C / 39°F.

From April to September, it is a rainy season. The average annual rainfall is quite high, with approximately 2.700 millimeters. Usually, the rainiest month is June, with an average of 550 millimeters.

Austral Chile

Mountain biking in Patagonia

In the Northern part of Austral Chile, the precipitations are abundant and it rains almost all year long. For example, the town of Puerto Aisén has an average annual rainfall of 3.000 millimeters well distributed in every month of the year.

In sumer, the average maximum temperature is 14°C / 57°C and the minimum is 4°C / 39°F. In the Southern tip of Chile, the typical weather is usually cold and dry, where the average annual rainfall reaches approximately 500 millimeters.

The Eastern Island

Moai statues – Rapa Nui Island

Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, is classified as a tropical rainforest climate that borders on a humid subtropical climate. The temperatures are mild and suffer minimal seasonal variations. The lowest temperatures are recorded in July and August (18 °C or 64 °F) and the highest in February (maximum temperature 28 °C or 82 °F), the summer season in the southern hemisphere. Winters are relatively mild.

The rainiest month is May, though the island experiences year-round rainfall. Easter Island’s isolated location exposes it to winds which help to keep the temperature fairly cool. Precipitation averages 1,100 mm or 44 inches per year. Occasionally, heavy rainfall and rainstorms strike the island. These occur mostly in the winter months (June–August).

The driest months are between October and February. The temperature of the sea is for the whole year above 20ºC , its varies between 25ºC in the months of February and March and 20ºC in the months between July and October. Since it is close to the South Pacific High and outside the range of the intertropical convergence zone, cyclones and hurricanes do not occur around Easter island.

Hiking in Chile

Chile is one of the most versatile, safe and unique places to hike in the World. The fact that Chile is located in the southern hemisphere, it allows hikers from the North Hemisphere to enjoy a taste of summer during the off-season. Moreover, it provides great reasons for a trip to check it out.

The vast National Parks and Land trusts of Chile will provide the traveling hiking enthusiast just about anything they could ever desire. From the driest Desert of the world, to the Lake and Volcano District, through mystical Islands, and Patagonia, and of course the adventurous roads to get to the wilderness areas.

Hiking season

Most hiking lovers head to Chile during South America’s spring and summer months, which stretches from October to March.

During October and November, it is springtime. Especially from South Santiago to Puerto Varas, there are plenty of hiking trails to discover. The weather is generally nice, making for a great road trip. Some of the main trails farther south in Patagonia, such as the famous Torres del Paine W trek, offer the best conditions between December and February.

As March progresses, the weather usually turns cool and wet, but with less people on the trails. The season for hiking in the Atacama Desert runs from mid June through mid January, and Eastern Island with its subtropical weather is great for hiking between March and December.

Here is a general description for the main hiking areas in Chile.

Atacama Desert

Cacti Valley, San Pedro de Atacama

The Atacama Desert is commonly known as the driest place in the world. Although the almost total lack of precipitation is the most prominent characteristic of the Atacama Desert, exceptions may occur. The Invierno Boliviano (Altiplano Winter) is a phenomenon which can produce a little rain and abundant electrical storms. It occurs in January and February.

Per year, it rains about 15 mm. (0.59 inch). Moreover, some weather stations in the Atacama have never received rain. It is so arid, that many mountains higher than 6,000 metres (20,000 feet) are completely free of glaciers. Indeed, only the highest peaks have some permanent snow coverage.

In San Pedro de Atacama, the local climate is extremely dry and mild. In summer, the daytime temperatures are between 25ºC to 30ºC  (77ºF–86ºF). In winter, between 18ºC to 25 °C (64 to 77 °F). Night time temperatures routinely drop below 0 °C (32 °F), and can reach as low as −10 °C (14 °F) in the winter.

Click here if you’re interested in the best hiking program in the Atacama Desert. If you are an adrenaline-seeker, you will definitely want to know more about our 6-Day MTB tour.

The Lake and Volcano District, Cochamo Valley and Chiloe Island

Conguillio National Park

Generally, the weather in this area is very similar to Northern California, especially on the coast side. Late October and November (spring time in the South Hemisphere) present milder temperatures 10ºC to 25ºC (50°F to 77°F) with some scattered rain. Likewise during fall (March and April).

During December you can start feeling the beginning of the summer with temperatures around 10ºC to 27ºC (50°F to 81°F). In January and February, temperatures range between 15ºC and 35ºC (60°F / 95°F).

Remember that you are visiting the Lake & Volcano district, so always expect some rain!

Check out our hiking experiences in Southern Chile!

Torres del Paine in Patagonia

The vast unbroken stretch of ocean to the west and south of the South American continent leaves the Patagonian Andes very exposed to the saturated winds that circle the Antarctic landmass. Also, the influence from the strong marine currents and Southern Patagonian Ice field make the weather hard to predict.

In Torres del Paine, in spring or early summer, fine weather may deteriorate almost without warning, bringing rains and eventually snow. Even in summer (December to march) you should come prepared to find cold, strong winds (up to 130 km/hr) and rainfalls. The summer’s average temperature is 11ºC/52ºF (24ºC max, 2ºC min). Rest assured, however, that just as quickly as the weather turns nasty, it can become pleasantly warm! Night-time temperatures will most likely range from –1°C to -5°C (30s and 40s F) depending on the weather.

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