To be honest Chile was not on my ‘places to visit before I die’ list. Now having recently visited I am left wondering why not? Chile was HOT, but you knew that already, right??
I was really impressed and left Chile wanting more, much more. I am not usually one to go back to places time and time again as I love discovering new places and experiencing new cultures. But, Chile is one place that I would love to go back to and explore some more. There is so much more to see and do and the South American culture is so intriguing.
Chile is closer to Australia than you would think. Recently we did a 17 hour direct flight to LA and backed it up with another 5 hours across to Orlando and that was tough. I was expecting a similar tortuous itinerary but I was surprised that Chile was much closer at only 13 hours, direct from Melbourne. Latam Airlines offer several of these direct flights each week into Santiago. They also have one short stop flights from Sydney through Auckland, New Zealand. Once you arrive into Santiago the rest of South America is very easily accessed. So, using Latam is the perfect way to get to South America to begin your adventure and there are many more airlines that will also do similar routes.
Santiago, the capital of Chile lies in valleys surrounded by snow capped mountains so the scenery is pretty special. On this trip we did not have that much time to explore the capital itself but this just gives me a good reason to go back on another occasion. We stayed in the Lastaria neighbourhood, which has an old world Bohemian vibe. Cobblestone streets house lots of trendy shops and restaurants, and there is a quaint market to explore if visiting on a Sunday like me. There were numerous boutique hotels in this neighbourhood within renovated 19th century buildings, many of which we were lucky enough to personally tour. Everyone was very welcoming and friendly and it felt amazing to be there.
From Santiago we had day trips to the wine region of the Casablanca valley and the coastal city of Valparaiso where Chile’s seaport lies. Chile has some award winning wines that come from this area, and the vineyards are open to the public for tours and tastings, which of course we had to partake in.
A lot of tourists might enter Chile through Valparaiso, if they are coming off Cruise ships. What a greeting this colourful city gives. The street art is something you notice straight away. Nearly every building is covered in colourful murals, huge designs that are often 2-3 stories high. Stairs are painted in rainbow colours or piano keys and no two buildings seem to look the same. It is a great city to site see on foot, although being built on the side of a hill it is not an easy walk at times. You can take the funicular (a rail type pulley system). Which allows it occupants to move up or down the side of a steep incline and is a common mode of transport in Valparaiso. It is a vibrant and interesting city to explore and rightfully listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO.
Chile itself is a long and narrow country, the major cities of Santiago and Valparaiso are located centrally. From here you can either go north or south to explore some more. In the Southern region you have the world famous Patagonia area, known for it’s unique wild life and natural beauty. There are glaciers and picturesque mountains as far as the eye can see. This region being close to the south pole is often where Antarctic voyages and cruises will depart. Another reason why I will need to return to Chile, to make my Antarctic departure (one day!). On this trip we went north to explore.
At the top of Chile is the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth. A barren place yet somewhere very beautiful with many picture perfect scenes to explore. There are a number of ‘all inclusive’ lodges located in this area. These are 5 star accommodations, with food, drinks, tours and a little pampering all on the inclusion list. They are located around the little desert town of San Pedro, this town is home to many tour operators, souvenir shops and backpackers’ hostels. It has a Spanish colonial feel.
In the Atacama Desert there is tour on offer that will suit everyone. Whether you are after something adventurous like volcano climbing or something where you can site see from a vehicle, there is an option for you. Most of the options involve getting out and experiencing the great outdoors and exploring the natural wonders on offer. There are salt flats, archaeological sites, geysers, rock formations, an abundance of wildlife, plus, colourful sunrises and sunsets just to name a few options. The hardest thing is choosing where to go and what to do when.
When night fall comes along the exploring does not stop as the sky then opens up to a million stars which are perfectly visible to the naked eye. Our resort at Alto Atacama had a very specialised telescope that could zoom in to see the rings on Saturn and the craters on the moons surface. All very spectacular to see and included in the booking of the star gazing tour taken by an astrologist.
Whether going here on an adventure holiday, like I did with Chimu adventures or a romantic getaway like many of the couples who we shared our time here with, you would leave feeling very satisfied that you have had an amazing, fulfilling holiday. The memories along with the pictures you can take of the natural wonders will keep you longing to come back one day and experience it all again.
Chimu adventures were the perfect hosts and are experts in the South American and Antarctic regions. They offer flexible itineraries that can cater for you in every way and I would be more than happy to assist in arranging your travel to this region with them. I’m always available at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to contact me for advice or just a chat. or sign up to our e-newsletter here- KB 4 Travel & Cruise
Safe travels. x