Guidebooks and Travelogues
Allende, Isabel. My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey through Chile. New York: HarperCollins 2003. The best-selling California-based novelist, niece of the late president Salvador Allende, reconnects with her homeland and its customs after more than a decade of exile.
Burford, Tim. Chile and Argentina: The Bradt Trekking Guide, 5th ed. Guilford, CT: The Globe Pequot Press, 2001. A greatly improved hiking guide that covers much of both countries with diligence; its maps, though also improved from previous editions, could still be better and it would benefit from adding photographs of the spectacular scenery it covers.
Campbell, John. In Darwin’s Wake: Revisiting Beagle’s South American Anchorages. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Sheridan House, 1997. Better in concept than execution, this record of a sailboat excursion around Cape Horn and through the Beagle Channel suffers from a prosaic prose style, lack of real insight, and inadequate background—in one instance, the author mistakes the rare huemul for the more common guanaco. Still, the relative rarity of the experience and the high quality of the photographs lend it some interest, especially for those sailing their own vessels.
Chatwin, Bruce. In Patagonia. New York: Summit Books, 1977. One of the continent’s classic travelogues, even if—perhaps because—Chatwin blurs the line between experience and fiction.
Chatwin, Bruce. What Am I Doing Here? New York: Viking, 1989. This collection of Chatwin miscellanea contains an essay on Chiloé and, specifically, the village of Cucao.
Crouch, Gregory. Enduring Patagonia. New York: Random House, 2001. Must reading for technical climbers and vicarious thrill seekers headed for southern Patagonia, though it deals primarily with Argentina’s Parque Nacional Los Glaciares (an area covered in this handbook).
Darwin, Charles. Voyage of the Beagle (many editions). Possibly the greatest travel book ever written, Darwin’s narrative of his 19th-century journey is filled with insights on the people, places, and even politics he saw while collecting the plants and animals that led to his revolutionary theories. His accounts of Tierra del Fuego, Chiloé, Concepción, Cerro La Campana, and Copiapó are so vivid they might have been written yesterday.
Dixie, Lady Florence. Across Patagonia. Punta Arenas: Southern Patagonia Publications, n.d. This is the chronicle of an adventurous Englishwoman who, in 1879, rode across the Patagonian steppes from Punta Arenas almost to Torres del Paine. Originally published in 1881, now available in a replica edition, it shows both the strengths and the weaknesses of imperial Victorian travel literature.
Dorfman, Ariel. Desert Memories: Journeys through the Chilean North. Washington DC: National Geographic, 2004. In his first dedicated venture into the travel genre, Dorfman revisits a region he overlooked in his youth and finds the keys to understanding his country. It includes a poignant visit to Pisagua, where a university friend died at the hands of Pinochet’s executioners.
Dorfman, Ariel. Heading South, Looking North. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1998. Overlapping the travel literature genre, this is a memoir of reflections on the second half of the 20th century by a bilingual activist and major Chilean literary figure; one critic, though, has termed the author’s self-criticism of his role in Unidad Popular as mea minima culpa.
Goodall, Rae Natalie Prosser. Tierra del Fuego. Buenos Aires and Ushuaia: Ediciones Shanamaiim, 1978. It’s badly in need of an update, but this bilingual guidebook is still the most informed single source about the Argentine side of the archipelago. Technically out of print, it’s still available in Buenos Aires and Ushuaia.
Green, Toby. Saddled with Darwin. London: Phoenix, 1999. Audacious if uneven account by a talented writer of his attempt to retrace the tracks—not the footsteps—of Darwin’s travels through Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile. Self-effacing but still serious, the author manages to compare Darwin’s experience with his own and stay almost completely off the gringo trail.
Guevara, Ernesto. The Motorcycle Diaries: A Journey around South America. New York and London: Verso, 1995. Translated by Ann Wright, this is an account of an Argentine drifter’s progress across the Andes and up the Chilean coast by motorcycle and, when it broke down, by any means necessary. The author is better known by his nickname, “Che,” a common Argentine interjection.
Leitch, William. South America’s National Parks. Seattle: The Mountaineers, 1990. Increasingly dated in its practical information, this pioneer guidebook is still a good thematic introduction to a representative sample of the continent’s protected areas, including several in Chile.
Muir, John. John Muir’s Last Journey (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, Shearwater Books, 2001). Edited by Michael P. Branch, this annotated collection of Muir’s correspondence and notes on his eight-month odyssey through South America and Africa includes his search for native araucaria forests in the lake district.
Murphy, Dallas. Rounding the Horn. New York: Basic Books, 2004. A hybrid of historical and contemporary navigation in the world’s wildest waters, Murphy’s travelogue conveys the travails of advancing against the winds of the “Furious Fifties.” But it also communicates the mystique of South America’s southernmost tip.
Reding, Nick. The Last Cowboys at the End of the World. New York: Crown Publishing, 2001. Anthropological in its approach, this account of isolated gauchos in Chilean Patagonia’s upper Río Cisnes rings true for the author’s admirable refusal to romanticize people with whom he clearly sympathizes and empathizes.
Roosevelt, Theodore. A Book Lover’s Holiday in the Open. New York: Scribner’s, 1916. After retiring from politics, the still vigorous U.S. president undertook numerous overseas adventures; among other stories, this collection retells his crossing of the Andes from Chile into the lake district of northern Argentine Patagonia, and his meeting with legends such as Perito Moreno.
Sagaris, Lake. Bone and Dream: Into the World’s Driest Desert. Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2000. Written by a Chile-based Canadian journalist, this literary travelogue conflates the legend of an Inka princess in the Norte Grande and the country’s post-Pinochet development.
Schubert, Franz, and Malte Siebert. Adventure Handbook Central Chile. Santiago: Viachile Editores, 2002. This professionally produced and well-illustrated book covers recreational activities, primarily but not exclusively backcountry hikes, in the area between the Río Aconcagua and the Río Biobío. An excellent complement to this Moon Handbook, it also contains a great deal of useful practical and cultural information.
Sepúlveda, Luis. Full Circle: A Latin American Journey. Melbourne: Lonely Planet, 1996. Erratic hopscotch across the continent by a Chilean writer who spent many years in exile.
Symmes, Patrick. Chasing Che: A Motorcycle Journey in Search of the Guevara Legend. New York: Vintage, 2000. Symmes follows the tiretracks of Che’s legendary trip through Argentina and Chile in the early 1950s.
Torres Santibánez, Hernán, and Marcela Torres Cerda. Los Parques Nacionales de Chile: una Guía para el Visitante, 2nd ed. Santiago: Editorial Universitaria, 2004. Well illustrated with maps and color photographs, this concise guide features 24 of Chile’s most accessible national parks, reserves, and monuments.
Wheeler, Sarah. Travels in a Thin Country. New York: The Modern Library, 1999. A lively travelogue that even includes the Chilean sector of Antarctica, but the unwarranted plugs for a well-known international rental car company that underwrote part of her trip are an irritation.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition