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9 days in Chile and so much we want to see. Help with Itinerary please!!!


Dec 31st, 2011, 05:16 PM
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9 days in Chile and so much we want to see. Help with Itinerary please!!!

My husband and I are flying into Chile March 10-19 and want to see as much as we can with such a limited amount of time. We are in our late 20s, like to explore, hike, horseback ride, kayak, wander, and drive through beautiful scenery. We want to see Santiago (at least one full day, maybe two), Vina del Mar, La Serena, and either the lake district, Chiloe, or Patagonia (TdP).

I'm thinking we would fly into Santiago and catch a bus straight to Vina del Mar. How much time do you think we need there? Just half a day or should we do a full day? We want to do La Serena at night to go to an observatory so I'm thinking we may need to be there two days. After Santiago, Vina, and La Serena, we will probably be only left with 4 days. Can we do the lakes, TdP or Chiloe in that short amount of time? Are we doing too much?

Should we see lake district, Chiloe, or TdP?

Thanks for all the help!
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Dec 31st, 2011, 08:42 PM
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Depending on when you land you could do vina del mar & Valparaiso in a day. From either location you can catch train or bus to areas in the north or south. Enjoy!
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Jan 1st, 2012, 12:02 AM
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Here is a link to our blog with photos and a bit of detail. http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blo...ai/1/tpod.html Entries 65 cover our time in Chile.
It is a personal view but IU wasn't terribly keen on Vina del Mar (although we did have a great days horse riding near there. We much preferred Valparaiso so, if your time is limited, I would opt to stay there as it is a really fascinating town.

Distances are great so you really need to consider how much of your time you want to spend on a plane. We particularly loved Pucon in the lake District but there is so much to see that it is very difficult to decide what to leave out. We really wish we had spent a lot more time there.
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Jan 1st, 2012, 12:20 AM
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We land around 12:30pm into Santiago.

I was thinking we could head directly to the coast and spend the rest of the day/evening in Vina del Mar/Valparaiso then catch a night bus from there to La Serena. However, I'm not sure if that is cramming WAY too much in on our first day. Probably. Instead, maybe we'll spend a day and a half on the coast and head up to La Serena the next night. Now trying to figure out how many days/nights we'll need in Southern Chile. Will 4 days down south be enough?
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Jan 1st, 2012, 03:33 AM
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Good route above in Nov Conde Nast down there distances are vast I flew my long legs with Sky despegar.com Chilean econo air saved a lot of time.Your really cannot go wrong based on your interests. Sheraton spg.com my fav Vina Del Mar in Santiago intercontinental.com for me up to 70% off bidding priceline.com. Quite chilly to the south usually.
weather2travel.com Have fun!
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 09:38 AM
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With a short schedule, 1 day for Santiago and 1 day for Vina del Mar should be enough. The two are closely and frequently linked by public transportation. To even try to do the rest of the items on your ideal itinerary, it will be necessary to take some domestic flights.

Sky Airlines (https://www.skyairline.cl), a Chilean line, has very affordable flights from Santiago to La Serena. Although it would be a shame to go such a ways and not spend too much time there, 1-2 days should be sufficient for La Serena.

Once back to Santiago, you can also fly to deep Patagonia to Punta Arenas (about 5-6 hours), then take a 3 hour bus to Puerto Natales, from which it is another 2 hour drive to Torres del Paine National Park. Prices of all this transport are very reasonable. Having just 3-4 days to see the sights of Patagonia will be rushed and not recommended, but the landscapes are certainly not to be missed.

The Lake District accessible by air at Puerto Montt might fit your timeline better. The flight is just 2.5 hours and is very cheap from Santiago. I suggest getting into Puerto Montt for your Chile vacation just so you'll have more time to explore the location itself rather than be in transit.

Have a great time!
Chile For Less
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 10:43 AM
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With the fire at TdP I might scratch it off the list for now. Time consuming and expensive tom reach, best to wait a few years for the burned areas to regenerate.
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 11:26 AM
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Thanks for the replies. I was thinking the same thing mlgb. I so want to see TdP, but I want to see it at it's best so we can wait. The lake district it is then! Should we fly to Puerto Montt and do that area or should we do a trip more toward Pucon? My husband really wants to see the stars up near La Serena so we'll do two days up there. We want two days in Santiago as well since it's more of a "discovery/exploration" of a possible second home for us. Any suggestions on neighborhoods and places to go to see "real life?" We're thinking the Los Condas area.
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 03:11 PM
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Here is a rough schedule.

Day 1 Sunday:
Arive Santiago 12:30pm
Explore Santiago or head straight to Vina/Valpo.

Day 2 Monday:
Take overnight bus to La Serena

Day 3 Tuesday:
La Serena/Elqui Valley
Observatory at night

Day 4 Wednesday:
La Serena to Puerto Montt – via skyairlines (kinda pricey)

Day 5 Thursday:

Day 6 Friday:

Day 7 Saturday:

Day 8 Sunday:
Fly back to Santiago

Day 9 Monday:
Flight leaves around 7pm

As you can see I haven't gone too far on planning. My good friend who lived in Chile for awhile is coming over tonight to help with planning. I thinks she went as far down as Chiloe. Hopefully she'll have good ideas as to where we should travel.
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Jan 9th, 2012, 09:57 AM
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You may also be there for Vendimia in Curico. It is the yearly wine festival. It is such a great festival. Your purchase a glass and tickets that you redeem for both food and wine. It is such a great opportunity to try all different wines and gourmet food for unbelievable prices.

Curico is also home to Miguel Torres. A tour of the vineyard is wonderful and they offer a 3 course lunch that is probably the best I have ever had. It was about $20/person for the lunch and an additional $10 to have wine with the lunch.
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Jan 14th, 2012, 06:11 AM
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Some should have mentioned Pedro de Atacama. High Chilean desert, some of the best and most unique hiking and land in the world. The Lake district can still have ash issue, you should check carefully. Our friends just had their tour routing changed.
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Jan 14th, 2012, 01:34 PM
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There is no ash in the Chilean lake district. It never had an ash issue. Virtually all the ash blew into Argentina. There were some cancelled flights to Puerto Montt a few months ago when the wind changed and there was ash at altitude affecting flights, but nothing on the ground or visible in the air.
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Feb 1st, 2012, 08:38 PM
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Is Valdivia a city worth seeing or should I concentrate one of our days elsewhere? I'm thinking, fly into Puerto Montt and drive to Puerto Varas. Possibly do a lake cruise to Peulla. Should we do Valdivia on another day or stay near Puerto Varas?
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Feb 6th, 2012, 08:13 PM
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I'm from Chile and I'm really surprised of the advise given in this forum for the distances you want to cover and how much you time want to spend in each place.

I would concentrate in what's more important, seeing the lake district, the central zone, the north, beaches, etc.

Although it's possible for you to do all that traveling, you are going to be very tired. Chile is very narrow, but distances North - South are long.

I would concentrate on the central zone, Santiago, Valparaiso, Vina del Mar, Renaca, Concon, one day I would spend at least one night in the V Region, Vina as a base.

Then I would travel to La Serena, see Valle del Elqui, La Herradura, Coquimbo, at least you need 2 days.

Fly to Puerto Montt as a base and rent a car, drive to the Lake District, cross South on ferry to Chiloe Island and spend a day visiting Castro, Chonchi, really worth seeing, food, drinks, palafitos, completely different culture, Chilotes, etc.

Second day drive to Puerto Varas, Lago Llanguihue, Frutillar, Volcan Osorno. There is so much to see and do in the Lake District.

Temuco, Osorno, Valdivia is hard to access and in my opinion not to much to see compared to the Lake District.

If you need more info let me know.
I tried to take my kids back home at least once a year and even with 3 weeks, we scratch the surface of what we like to do.
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Feb 6th, 2012, 10:23 PM
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Pookymimi - Thanks so much for taking the time to help me out!

I know that I've got so much I want to see and do on the itinerary. My husband wants to spend a fair amount of time in Santiago (at least 3 days) because he is considering buying a second home there. He wants us to get a feel for the city, look at neighborhoods, check out a couple IB schools (we have young children entering school age), see every day life, etc.

We've never been to Chile before so we also want to see the beauty of it. If you had to choose to go to either Vina/Valpo area or La Serena/Elqui Valley which would you choose? Our only real draw to go up north (and it's a big draw) is to see the stars. Are they as incredible as people say they are?! I'm thinking I may have to take out one destination (La Serena or Valpo) on this trip to make more time for other areas like Santiago and the Lakes. I definitely want to see the lakes! I've only heard wonderful things! Good info about Valdivia. Wasn't too sure about that one. We may have to save it for another trip.

So three destinations in 9 days is doable right? Three in Santiago, four in the lakes, and 2 somewhere else.
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Feb 7th, 2012, 08:08 AM
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My husband who is also American wants us to retire in Chile, Santiago or Vina del Mar, and he says to skip La Serena.

I took him there one Summer and he wasn't impressed at all, didn't like it. He says take me to Puerto Varas, Ensenada, Llanquihue, Chiloe Island (drink Licor de Oro).

La Serena is dry long coast, the South is green, lush, blue lakes and beautiful volcanos and South is the beautiful Chiloe with a microclimate.

When we stay in Vina del Mar, at least 7 days of our visit, he loves going to Valparaiso and to explore the town taking funiculars and hiking the town down, exploring the streets.

I'm from Santiago, and I can never get enough of it. I always divide my time at least 4 days in Santiago, the rest evenly between Vina del Mar as base and Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas in the South as base, rent a car and go to the lakes and Chiloe.

If I had more time instead of La Serena I would drive or fly back to Santiago from Temuco and see Pucon and Volcan Osorno, a must see Lake, volcano and resort, another of our favorites.

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Feb 7th, 2012, 10:36 AM
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Good advice Mia! Unfortunately, I think we'll probably end up skipping La Serena this time around. Have you or your husband been up to the observatories? We're not so interested in the town, but really did want to see the night sky. Maybe next time though. Valparaiso is closer and cheaper to get to anyhow.

So what are the good areas of Santiago to look at? The only one I've heard of is Las Condes. What should we see or do to get a good feel of every day life?

Okay, that leaves us 4 days in the Lake region. We like to kayak, horseback ride, drive through beautiful scenery, and mosey around. Any particular spots that are a must?!

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Feb 7th, 2012, 03:56 PM
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"Have you or your husband been up to the observatories?"
My brother who lives in La Serena took me when I was young. I believe you can see a beautiful sky in the south also.

Santiago is diverse, Las Condes, El Arrayan, La Dehesa, Lo Barnechea, you can see them in one afternoon, I believe you may see how the rich live but from the gates out.

Pirque has some good wineries and if you take a look at Chile websites you may find some Wine tours, we've never done one. I know in your way out of Santiago to Vina there are several new wineries around Casablanca that can give you tours.

In Providencia around El Bosque Norte/Vitacura you have good fish restaurants, we usually visit.
If you want a good, but somewhat expensive show with typical polinesian food and drinks from Eastern Island, good food and excellent dancing show, go to Bali Hai, we really like going there.
Some good parrilladas are in low downtown and La Florida area. I love Santiago, too much to do and great food!

My husband rented a car one day and drove in the morning all the way up to Valle Nevado. He loved the view from up there to Santiago and the drive was extremely challenging. We do that drive on a daily basis to go skiing. When he was coming down he gave a ride/met a 20 y/o kid who was working in construction in one of the ski resort, kid who would hijack every day to come down, sad.

I believe you may be able to kayak in one of the lakes, I know you can in Valdivia, Calle Calle River, not sure what lakes you can, though. Horse Riding very likeable anywhere in the South.
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Feb 7th, 2012, 08:30 PM
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Again, you have been so helpful Mia! Thank you! Looking forward to our trip even more now! If I have any other questions I'll be sure to ask you! Do you have an email address I can email you directly?
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Feb 8th, 2012, 07:56 AM
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