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Chile: first cut a travel plan

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Hello Fodorites,

I need a LOT of advice. This is my first post of what will surely be many. All countries seem pretty overwhelming when trying to make a travel plan.

About us: the "us" is my wife and me...in our 60s. Not budget travelers. My wife LOVES nature, more than anyone I know, but she will N-O-T hike more than 1/2 hour. We have 14 days to spend on this trip, plus two days getting to/from Chile. Moving more than every 2-3 days (preferably 3) is too tiring for my wife. We will probably travel in late October 2017 (since that seems to be a good time in terms of travel.

Our interests: quaint villages; different cultures; beautiful nature. We often like to hire a private guide for part of a trip and rent a car for other parts. A tour bus isn't our kinda thing.

So far, my thoughts are:

-Santiago 3-4 days. See the main city sights, Plaza de Armas, Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center, Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, La Moneda, streets of Bellavista. Also, areas around the city: Cerro Santa Lucia. Drive through the Cajon del Maipo.

[Valpariso doesn't seem to be very highly recommended. The Rough Guide says "Today, Valpariso wears a rundown, moth-eaten air. Crime and poverty are worse than elsewhere in Chile..." At first, I thought of visiting Valpo, but that's a pretty blunt assessment]

-Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. 3 days. Hopefully we can find some driving tours, since my wife is not into hiking. Once in a while I can sneak off for 3 hours of hiking, or so.

-San Pedro de Atacama. Fly from Punta Arenas, change in Santiago, to Calama. 3 days. El Tatio geysers; Salar de Atacama; Valle de la Luna

So...that's about 9 days so far, then:

-fly Calama to La Paz Bolivia...or drive. 3-4 days on Bolivia. Which makes about 13 days. I haven't yet figured out what to do in Bolivia. We were at Titcaca once, so I'd want to see something else this time.

I have Atacama just before Bolivia so we can get acclimated. Atacama is at about8,000 ft, while Lake Titicaca is 12,500 ft. 7 years ago we flew from sea level to Titicaca; I spent two days in bed under a doctor's care, with an oxygen mask!

So..I have maybe 1-2 days unaccounted for. Should we try to squeeze in some other area: Lakes District? The glacier of Patagonia aren't of great interest: we saw them in Argentina. I know it would be easy to spend much more time in this interesting country. I'm more inclined to distribute these 1-2 days among some of the areas already listed above.

BTW, we aren't much interested in wine tours. We live in California where there is a lot of wine (I drink it 360 days a year), and my wife can't drink alcohol.

Comments???


Thanks!

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