Travel around the world and you’ll see diverse and beautiful landscapes but rarely do you see such diversity in one country. Chile has the Atacama Desert in the north, 2700 miles of coastline, the Andes Mountains, the adventurous and gorgeous Patagonia to the south, and the mysterious island of Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit the Atacama Desert. I just didn’t have enough time on this South America trip. Originally, I planned on spending 10 days in Peru and 4 days in Chile. But, when I researched the country I saw how diverse and beautiful the it was and I changed my plans. My itinerary changed to reflect more time in Chile.
Travel often starts with a long flight and this trip would start with an 11 hour flight from Los Angeles to Santiago, Chile’s only international airport. This wasn’t my first destination but a quick transfer. On a separate itinerary, I had booked a flight to Rapa Nui. I had hoped the 3 hours between my flights was enough and it definitely was. I went through customs, grabbed my luggage, and checked in to my new flight in no time. The flight takes 4 hours to the island and there isn’t much to see out the window as you fly over the Pacific. A trip to Rapa Nui can be very expensive and the accommodations on the island can be pricy in comparison to the quality of the rooms. It’s the price you pay for vacationing in such a remote place. I would recommend staying for only three nights here. That will give you two full days to see the island. I would also recommend doing guided tours to help understand the history of this mysterious island. Sunsets at Ahu Tahai are a must and you can walk or bike your way here from your Hanga Roa hotel. It’s a small town so everything is relatively close.
After three days, I was on my way to Patagonia. Unfortunately, I couldn’t coordinate a flight that would allow me to transition from my inbound flight and my outbound flights in Santiago so had to spend a night here. I booked a room in the downtown area which was a mistake. I chose the wrong hotel in a bad neighborhood with inferior amenities. I was set to return to this hotel upon my return for Patagonia for three nights, obviously that was changed. The next morning, I couldn’t wait to leave for the airport.
I boarded the plain with great anticipation which was dulled by a flight delay. Domestic flights with LATAM are famous for flight delays and I experienced that first hand throughout my trip. Book a window seat on the left side, facing forward, and you’ll get an amazing view of the Andes and Torres del Paine about 30 minute before arrival. The airport is in the city of Punta Arenas and that’s where I spent three nights during my visit to Patagonia. I had originally planned to stay at Torres del Paine National Park for three days but there were too many “once in a life time” experiences to be had in the Punta Arenas area. I did take a one day tour of Torres del Paine which made me regret not spending the three days there as the landscape was so beautiful. The next day would be one of those “once in a life time” experiences as I crossed the Magellan Straight and toured Tierra del Fuego, also referred to as the end of the world. A term coined by the flat earth believers of the past. The island is also home to the only colony of king penguins who reside outside of Antarctica. The third day would include an incredible kayak excursion down the Magellan Strait. Unfortunately, it was cancelled due to heavy winds.
My time in the adventurous land of Patagonia was over and it was time to catch another flight to Santiago, this time I would stay three nights. My highlight for this period was the day trip to Valparaiso along the coast. It was once an important port city before the opening of the panama canal which reduced the ship traffic significantly. The city is now a UNISCO World Heritage site more known for its neighborhood filled with graffiti art. For the millions who enjoy the consumption of wine, you can do a wine tasting tour from Santiago to the many wineries between the city and the coast.
For a detail account of each destination, click the link: Chile
Chile is a country filled with multiple different landscapes and attractions. Also, it has the best economy in the region so don’t expect the low prices you see in other Latin American countries. I tried to see as much of the country as I could during my visit. You could say that this was a taste of Chile tour. The small bites I consumed of Chile filled my appetite but left me wanting more. The time I spent here was tiring with too many flights. But, it was well worth the effort as my time in Chile was an unforgettable adventure.