Behind the Lens: Chile’s Warm Culture

Chile’s iconic landscapes never fail to charm. From the arid Atacama Desert in the north – Earth’s driest non-polar desert – through to the Patagonian fjords surrounded by snow-capped mountains and the Torres Del Paine National Park in the south.

Yet for Silversea Expedition filmmaker Ross Vernon McDonald, what welcomed him was the rich and intriguing culture of this country, something that he and his lens weren’t expecting at first.

Go to Chile for the rugged landscapes. Fall in love with its people.

“We started in Valparaiso, had two sea days and then after that, it was mostly fjord-based travel which was spectacular. I wanted to get off the ship literally everywhere,” Ross tells us. “It’s so remote because there are no roads, footpaths or anything, just rugged mountains with trees and dense foliage going all the way down these mountains straight into the water.

“Chilean culture was not something that I was expecting as there are these really iconic landscapes and bucket list locations. When you think of Chile, you think ‘I’m going to go to Patagonia and hike in the middle of nowhere in the mountains’, but we were welcomed into these small communities.”

Communities are so remote that traditions prevail

/Ross Mcdonald

Ross filmed traditions passed down in these remote settlements as he observed local farmers, cowboys rounding cattle and live music and dance – complete with spurs, ruffled dresses and a string band. These unique elements of life here truly captivated his lens.

“It’s this mix of Spanish and European heritage coupled with Incan South American culture, it’s a real melting pot of cultures,” Ross adds. “But the moment with people is always about capturing their spirit in a way. That moment when they’re dancing, smile at a partner or something that captures the action.”

Editor’s Note: Chilean west coast cruises, offered both in classic cruise voyages and on expedition trips, often include stops in other South American countries as well as the Caribbean, Antarctica and Australia.