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Trip Report Chile Trip report - Santiago, Lakes, Desert and Coast

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We had an excellent trip to Chile in November. I usually write about details of trips which seems more common on the Europe board so I thought I would share some details despite seeing fewer here. The people of Chile are really wonderful. Everyone we met on the trip was so nice. It was one of the best trips we have had in many years of travel.

We spent a couple of days in Santiago which we really enjoyed. We stayed at the San Cristobal Tower and loved the hotel and thought it was close enough to the downtown area for us – just a short walk across the river. The outdoor pool was a big plus since it was really warm we enjoyed relaxing there late in the afternoon when it was too hot for being downtown. We found that the metro was great for getting around. We used it to go to Concho y Toro one afternoon and it could not have been easier. The winery was just a short cab ride away from the last metro stop. The tour was really different than any other we have taken and was quite enjoyable.

From Santiago we used LAN to fly to Puerto Montt. Everyone said we would like LAN and they could not have been more correct. The airline is very efficient. We stayed in Frutillar and Puerto Varas in the Lake District and were blessed with a sunny day along with some clouds and rain. The area is nice in the rain but stunning in the sunshine. In Frutillar we had a wonderful dinner at Se Cocina. I could not recommend it highly enough. There is no menu and the chef uses the freshest available items and puts out a wonderful dinner and you sit in his giant kitchen with views of the lake and his garden. We stayed at the Hotel Puelche in Puerto Varas and were very happy there as well. The rooms were very nice and had a wonderful staff. We checked out a lot of hotels in town since we were moving mid stay and this was by far the best that we saw.

From the Lakes we took a flight to Calama to see the desert. The flight itself was wonderful. We had seats on the side of the plane where we were able to see the Andes. What a relaxing way to spend the afternoon! The monitors showed a map with our location from time to time which made it even more interesting since we knew what we were seeing. We stayed in San Pedro de Atacama at the Awasi. The Awasi is a wonderful place to stay but is expensive for the area. The rooms and the people working there are fabulous. Each room is provided with a guide with a 4 wheel drive jeep to take you on the excursions in the area. We went for a swim in Cejar Pond (a salt lake with fabulous colors and lots of flamingoes). We visited Moon Valley at sunset. We went to Salar de Tara (another Salt lake with llamas, flamingoes and great colors) one day which involved a really long difficult drive up into the Andes toward Argentina and then tons of off-road driving. We were really happy that we were not us doing the driving on that trip or really any of the trips we took up in the desert. All of the roads, or dirt trails in many cases, seemed tough to drive and easy to lose sight of if you were unfamiliar with them. I’m certain it would take forever to get anywhere even if you were able to find your way driving across the unmarked terrain. We also went to the Geyers one morning and after having been to Yellowstone previously we did not find them too interesting. I would not get up so early to see them if I had the trip to do over but they were cited as one of the most interesting places to see so we gave it a try. After the Geyers we stopped at the hot springs which was nice but for me was not worth the ride down the scary bumpy road to get to the bottom of the ravine for the springs.

From Calama we had a flight back to Santiago where we rented a car and drove to Vina del Mar via the Casablanca Valley. Again we stayed at the San Cristobal which was perfect for an easy escape from the city since it is located right next to the tunnel for the freeway to Route 68. There is a Budget rental location in the attached Sheraton. We stopped at Veramonte on the way for a tour with a wine and cheese tasting. After the tour they walked us out into the vineyard to a picnic table with wines and cheese set up and we sat and enjoyed the wine and the surroundings for a while. It was lovely. We had lunch at the House of Morande which it a beautiful restaurant with outdoor seating and a very nice menu. We stayed at the Sheraton in Vina and had a wonderful corner room with a great view of both Vina and Valparaiso. The hotel is nice but we did not find the coast as interesting as we expected. It is pretty and the food was good but the coast was more developed than we expected.

As I said at the beginning, it was a wonderful time and I hope to visit Chile again some day.

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