Need Comments on ITN in Chile

Old Jun 20th, 2010, 03:17 PM
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Need Comments on ITN in Chile

After an aborted attempt to go to SEAsia beginning in February 2011, we are returning to SA instead! Beginning in mid February want to sepnd about a month in Chile before ending with 10 days or so in BA. Please give me any thoughts on a proposed itinerary in Chile:
4 nights in Santiago
3 nights Valparaiso
5 nights in Atacama (Fly to Calama from Santiago)
Fly from Calama to Puerto Montt & pick up rental car
3 nights in Chiloe
9 nights driving around the Lake District
Loop in rental car- return car to Puerto Montt

Fly to Punto Arenas bus to Puerto Natales and to TDP
3 nights in Torres de Paine
2 nights in Punta Arenas
4 nights cruise on Stella Australis to Ushuaia
3 nights in Ushuaia
3/26 – Fly Ushuaia to BA

Any recommendations on other places to visit or the about the amount of time we have drafted would be appreciated. Thanks!
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 02:59 PM
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I'd subtract a night from Ushaia and add it to TDP, especially if you want to do any hiking. If you want to hike to the Towers, it's best to stay two nights at Las Torres. If you just want to drive and take in the views and short walks from the road on the south side, then the other hotels are more convenient.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 03:41 PM
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I agree with above that I'd spend another night or two in Torres del Paine. It is truly spectacular and gives you a cushion if you have bad weather. If you are not going to Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina, you will want to go to Glacier Grey in TdP. Two nights Punta Arenas seems plenty, especially given the cruise. Haven't been to Ushuaia, so I can't comment. Twelve nights (3 + 9) in Chilean lake district seems a lot to me, even with a car. Maybe you could give a more detailed itinerary for that part, but I can't figure out what I'd do for that long. We were there this past March and didn't have the best weather, so that may have colored my reaction. We were told, however, that the weather (overcast/drizzly/little rain) was pretty typical. To our surprise, we enjoyed the Argentine lake district more, and it is dryer and sunnier on the east of the Andes in this region. I understand it is difficult to take a rental car across the border, but there are nice buses and the lake crossing, so you could spend some of those 12 days in Argentina.

Five nights in the Atacama is about right. I assume you are not staying in Calama? It really has nothing to recommend it, other than the airport. San Pedro is pretty touristy, but much preferable (air quality, views, access to sights, etc.). Are you driving in Atacama too, or taking tours? Haven't been to Valparaiso.

Have a great trip.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 05:19 PM
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Thank you both for your comments! Seems to be very little on these boards re Chile so I appreciate your responses. The books are good to a point, but can never replace real live experiences.

Based on what you've said, we will add back in Arg Lake District. Based on the advice of ElizabethS we're also going to reverse the direction of the cruise and change that to 3 nights. We haven't decided on a car or not in Atacama. Wasn't planning on staying in Calama. Do u recommend a car over tours in that area?
Now it looks like this
4 nights in Santiago
3 nights Valparaiso
5 nights in Atacama (Fly to Calama from Santiago)
Fly from Calama to Puerto Montt & pick up rental car
3 nights in Chiloe
4 nights driving around the Lake District in Chile
return car to Puerto Montt
2 days Cross over to Arg Lake District using buses and lake crossing
3 days Arg Lake District returning to Bariloche (rental car)
Fly to Ushu
2 days Ushu/Tierra del Fuego
3 nights cruise from Ushu to Punto Arenas
3-4 days in TDP Punta Arenas to TDP
2 days bus to el Calafate from Punto Arenas
Fly to BA.

Thoughts? thanks!
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Old Jun 22nd, 2010, 05:07 AM
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YT - this is quite similar to our Southern Chile itinerary which also included 3 nights in Chiloe. I was very much looking forward to it but we didn't find it as interesting as we expected and left after 2 nights to get to the Lake District earlier. It is quite a bit of travel (drive, ferry, drive) from Puerto Montt so unless you have a hugely compelling reason to go (family?) I'd redistribute those nights elsewhere. (hmmm, 3 nights - that's how long we spent on Easter Island

It doesn't look like you're staying in Puerto Montt - a lot of people bypass it or stay nearby in Puerto Varas. If you enjoy markets or are a foodie we highly recommend you stay one night in Puerto Montt to visit Angelmo - the market in the inner harbour. One of the most fascinating markets we have ever seen. Pics on our blog here

http://lizandrichardsa.typepad.com/l...ke_distri.html

(also on that link are pics from one of our all time favourite restaurants in Punta Arenas - if I spent 2 nights there as you are we wouldn't eat anywhere else - for all meals!!)
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Old Jun 22nd, 2010, 06:19 AM
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Interesting about Chiloe -- I read in your blog that u left early. It sure sounds sort of charming and laid back which is ok for a couple days. I loved all your food talk on your blog -- we are definteily into good food. We havent worked out the nitty gritty of logistics, just trying to get an overview of what might work and we'll drill down form there. Ok, I'll look at Easter Island again and rethink it.

Did folks plan on their own or use a travel agent to do bookings? I had read that the TA in Chile can get better air fares than I could get outside Chile? One travel agent in California with contacts wihin Chile said that was the case.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2010, 07:35 AM
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Re Chiloe - I had read about its magical/mystical qualities and how it was like stepping back in time 20 years....I guess in the end we just didn't see that much of a difference between the mainland Southern Chile and Chiloe to justify the travel time. We found much of southern Chile and the Lake District to be like North America 20 (even 30) years ago.

I used a travel agent in Santiago while we were in Galapagos (we were there a month so I could correspond with her - we didn't fly to SA on LAN - if you are there are some internal air passes you can purchase apparently). I can't vouch for whether the air was cheaper booked by her, but it cost a lot less than I was expecting. Also her Easter Island package price was terrific (it was air/hotel/tour and transfers - not with a group) so perhaps there is something to using a local agent. (as I recall her Mare Australis pricing was the same as their website).

She isn't with the agency anymore - but there are a couple of BA based agents that get rave reviews here.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2010, 10:14 AM
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If you have a complicated itinerary I think it's worth making contact with a travel agent. I found Chile very difficult to self-plan, partly because of the Chilean accent, partly because you can't book busses from overseas, and partly because of the tendency of travel providers not to respond to emails.

I used my B&B in Punta Arenas, and my hotel in Puerto Natales, to help with some tour and travel bookings, other places I just walked in and booked a few days ahead.

Highly recommend this lodging in Punta Arenas: La Casa Escondida, see tripadvisor under B&Bs.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2010, 11:25 AM
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mlgb -- thanks, well, its certainly becoming complicated! I contacted a ta who go tback righ tawa and asked foor some basics. Got back to him and havent heard a peep since then. I'll wait patiently.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2010, 09:27 PM
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Yes that happens. I would not wait too patiently, try another one!
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Old Jun 23rd, 2010, 08:09 AM
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Sorry about all the typos in the earlier post!
mlgb -- I did read soem of your threads on your trip. Very helpful. Do you have the name of an agent? I'm planning on waiting one more day and then will move on.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2010, 09:22 AM
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Sorry, I don't have an Chilean agent that planned my whole trip, which was much simpler than yours. I made contact with the lodging providers by email, live online chat and telephone (often had to call to followup on unreturned emails).

I know COMAPA is a big agent around Punta Arenas but I am guessing you want someone to manage the entire trip.

Good luck.
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Old Jun 27th, 2010, 02:00 PM
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Thanks everyone for all your comments and suggestions on timing and where to stay and go. We've made many changes based on them, responses to other questions, our time, budget and airline constraints. Here's where we r now planning. Your thoughts would be appreciated

3 nights in Santiago
3 nights Valparaiso
Fly from Santiago to Puerto Montt & pick up rental car
2 nights in Chiloe (if we don't like it we'll leave after 1st night)
6 nights driving around the Chilean Lake District-maybe stay in 2 different locations - Suggestions for where to base ourselves
Return car to Puerto Montt
Crossover to ARG via bus-lake-bus
5 nites Pick up a car and travel around the ARG Lake District
Rtn to PM by bus Suggestions for places to stay on ARG side
1 night Fly to Punto Arenas & spend night there
4 nights Torre de Paine
Overnight in Puerto Natales after returning car - next day bus to el Calafate for 4 nights
Fly to BA from el Calafate and stay Ba 10 days or so.

I think we've got a TA to help us with some of the bookings, Couple agents got back to first question and then poof, never heard back.
Thanks again for your help!
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Old Jun 29th, 2010, 12:48 PM
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Yestravel - we thoroughly enjoyed our time in Pucon in the Chilean Lake district and spent a few days there - very pretty town and great restaurants. If you are feeling energetic then a bike ride around the Villarica volcano is well worth the effort. From there we crossed into Argentina at San Martin de Los Andes another very pretty town which also seems to be the chocolate capital of the world! We hired a car there for the 7 lakes drive down to Bariloche (very beautiful but und=fortunately we didn't get the best weather.
Really regret not going to Torres de paine so looking forward to experiencing it vicariously via your trip report!
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Old Jun 29th, 2010, 01:41 PM
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Thanks, crellston -- I had read your report on Pucon and I imagine that is where we'll spend part of the time. Looking forward to TdP - it looks gorgeous, but then so do so many other parts of Chile.
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Old Jun 29th, 2010, 02:16 PM
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YT - I think you won't regret dropping the cruise - you'll see so much lovely scenery with that itinerary.

You've probably seen it on our blog - we stayed in Villarica at Hosteria De La Colina

http://www.hosteriadelacolina.com/

And more pics on our blog

http://lizandrichardsa.typepad.com/l...ica_hoste.html

The hotel owners arranged 2 delightful trips for us - one the plane ride over the Volcano (that was an experience!) and a lazy drifting boat ride down a river (after the excitement of the plane ride the boat trip was perfect).



http://lizandrichardsa.typepad.com/l...ica_hoste.html
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Old Jun 29th, 2010, 04:22 PM
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Since you have apparently dropped the Beagle Channel, do you want to add a day in Punta Arentas to see the penguins at Island Magdalena? Another option you might do is take Turismo 21 de Mayo's cutter trip though the Ultima Esperanza Sound, from Puerto Natales. I did it as a pleasant and easy day trip back to PN (of course I had spectacular weather that day). You'll see two receding glaciers. They have only a Spanish language website but you can click around and see photos.

http://www.turismo21demayo.cl/index1.htm

I think if you have a good travel agent, you can transfer all the way into TdP using this route. If you are interested in more adventurous activites and are going to hike the W, rather than stay in Explora, I would recommend looking into this Rio Serrano approach.

Also I am assuming El Calafate includes a trip to see Perito Moreno Glacier. This is important, because if you do plan on seeing PM you may consider not seeing Glacier Grey in TdP if you run short on time.
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Old Jun 29th, 2010, 05:05 PM
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Thanks, Elizabeth -- it's reassuring to hear your words re dropping the cruise. I really agreed with u on the 4 days being too much and we just couldn't work the 3 day one out. So given my doubts and the costs, we decided to skip, but I was vacillating. I have to go back and go thru your blog again. I haven't really focused on where we'll stay--been keeping a list as people recommend various hotels/hosterias. Hosteria de la Coliña looks good.

mlgb, thanks for more ideas. Yes, we plan to see Perito Moreno Glacier. Good thought about skipping Glacier Grey in TdP. Will look into staying another day in Punto Arenas.
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Old Jun 29th, 2010, 05:59 PM
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Elizabeth -- I just reread the CHile portion of your blog agin. Do u mind sharing where u stayed? A couple are mentioned, but I didnt see the names of some of the others. thanks
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Old Jun 29th, 2010, 06:08 PM
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Great idea from mlgb to add a night in PA to visit the penguins (and that gives you two days to eat at La Luna!)
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