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12 days in Chile in July

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I am planning to be in Chile in July from about 18th to 31st. Not counting flight time this leaves about 12 days in Chile.

I still haven't booked my flight but plan to do so in a week, I will be departing from USA on 18th, and fly back to USA on 31st. I would like to get at least a rough plan of itinerary so that I can book hotels in cities that I plan to stay during my trip.

I guess about half of the time I will spend in central Chile. I been thinking of staying in Santiago (possibly 3 days), and later in Vina del Mar or Valparaiso (I am not sure how much should I stay in Valparaiso).... and after that I plan to go to La Serena and explore Elqui valley as one option, or go south - to Lake district and possibly Chiloe, as alternative option. Do you think I would have enough time to go to Lake district in 12 days time? Which would be better around that time?

I been also thinking of renting a car, instead of relaying on busses. How feasible is to drive around Santiago/Valparaiso area.. or to go to La Serena or south to Chiloe/Lake District? Are there pretty good roads around Santiago?

For day trips.. at least in Santiago/Valparaiso area.. I came up with a little list of places to see. One to Casa de Isla Negra (I would love to see all three houses of Pablo Neruda while in Chile). I also read recommendations to go by Pomaire. And I been also wanting to see Sewell (How does one go there? Is it only by a tour from Santiago?). I also plan to see few wineries. How are they in winter, which would be best to visit?

What other places can you recommend to see along the way? Especially if I will decide to drive.

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