Santiago has transformed itself over the past decade, with a burgeoning food scene and thriving nightlife to boot. But the city's real drawcard remains its otherworldly surroundings, from the stark Atacama Desert to the ethereal Lake District. Writer and photographer Nori Jemil journeys to Chile to capture the city's beautiful surrounds.

Having lived in Chile for several years, I plotted my recent return to revisit two of the places closest to my heart; the sea-level lakes of the south and the hot, high-altitude north. I took in volcanic peaks, remote villages, glassy lakes and geysers. I raced around in a 4WD, climbed to the top of wind-carved boulders and stood alongside my guide, Juan, as the evening light slowly poured into an arid canyon, transforming it beyond earthly colours.

Chile can’t be beaten for adventures, or landscapes that’ll leave you a little breathless – even after you’ve adjusted to the altitude. Though the whole expanse of this elongated country invites a much longer stay, for first-timers with just a couple of weeks to spare, the southerly Lake District and Atacama Desert in the north provide a good introduction, with Santiago as a central hub. Here are some of my favourite shots.

Lago Llanquihue after sunset

The church at pueblo Machuca

A salt lake at Laguna Cejar

Dusk at the Valle de La Luna, Atacama

Tres Marias natural salt sculpture

Lago Tebenquiche with distant Licancabur volcano

Steam from El Tatio geysers at dawn

High-altitude Piedras Rojas salt lake

Views of Osorno volcano from across the lake

Laguna Miscanti and volcano Miñiques


Explore more of Chile with The Rough Guide to ChileCompare flightsfind toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.