The long thin country has some amazing surprises
A chat to some lovely women heading off on their South American adventure within the next year, reminded me that I hadn't been updating my top 10 in each country. I think this has something to do with the fact that if I finish my top 10's I will be putting my journeys to bed. Having been 12 months since I first landed in Ushuaia, the last week has involved some self reflection and reminiscing of the good times. But alas the completion of my top 10's must be completed.
So....here are my top 10 tips for Chile.
1. Torres Del Paine. If you’ve been following the blog you would already know that this is one of my favourite places in the world. Down in Patagonia in the land of the extinct prehistoric milodon (a giant sloth like creature), the craggy peaks that are within the Parque Torres Del Paine will enchant you. I was lucky enough to visit the parque three times and each time I was amazed at the surrounding beauty. One of my favourites memories of this magical place is having a ringside seat when more than 8 condors circled above our truck after we had disturbed them feasting on a llama carcass. These magical birds in such numbers were a sight to behold.
2. The Carterra Austral road is simply breathtaking. Not an easy road to drive a truck on but the aquamarine lakes border by forested mountains and remoteness makes this road a must if you are travelling by car or motorbike.
3. If you are visiting Santiago you must experience a ‘Terra Moto’ aka an earthquake. What! I hear you scream. Never fear, although having experienced an actual earthquake in Chile the earthquake I am talking about is the local drink for Santiago which consists of a scoop of icecream in a glass of wine. What! I hear you scream again. All I can say is don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. This drink gets better as the ice cream melts so stick with it, but just beware....they can knock you for six and after the second you will be feeling much better but after the third you will be wondering what hit you.
4. Home of Chile’s rich and famous during the summer, Pucon is a beautiful town well worth of visit. Pucon is known for Villarica Volcano, one of the only snow covered, active volcanoes in the world that you can climb. The pain of the walk up this mountain will stay with me forever (as will the memories of blood filled socks due to some intense blisters). The best part of this trek was the tobogganing down which included delirious, uncontrollable laughter and some awesome spontaneous somersaulting. But beware...the tracks on the way down are skinny so those with big hips may get stuck. Just get the cute guide to jump in behind you and give you a push along...this always helps with customer relations.
5. I got the awesome opportunity to white water raft down the Futalafue river in the south of Chile. Class 5 rapids and beautiful scenery make this small town (max 1500 people) worth a visit.
6. While travelling in South America you will notice that almost every country has a ‘Valley of the moon’. Chile’s version is located just outside of San Pedro de Atacama; a small town located in the Atacama Desert in the north of Chile near the border of Bolivia. The sunsets here are to die for and San Pedro has some amazing bars and scenery and is THE place to buy copper jewellery straight from the artisans.
7. While in San Pedro you must take the opportunity to visit the observatory. Set up by a French expat with an interest in astronomy, this backyard observatory is simply amazing. The clearest skies in the world allow for some awesome viewing.
8. If you stay in Santiago I can highly recommend La Casa Roja. A great hostel with friendly staff, a pool out the back, two bars, cricket nets, free wi fi and the best kitchen in a hostel I’ve come across.
9. Back to Pucon and the best hot springs I visited in South America. Set in a natural environment they are open 23hours a day and give your muscles a chance to recuperate after the volcano climb. Start at the bottom of the hill (coolest pool) and work your way up to the hottest pool. Don’t be deterred by rain, it makes the visit even more decadent.
10. The Navimag ferry is a great way to travel through the Chilean Fjords. Rather than travel by road, the chance to travel by boat alongside an amazing national park with ice bergs a glacier and wildlife galore is an opportunity that is hard to say no to. The best part of the Navimag trip is the bingo and disco night but don’t forget to take the motion sickness pills.