Just back from… Chile With Paul Winrow-Giffen
Senior Travel Consultant Paul tells us all about his recent trip to Chile.
What country did you visit?
Chile with my colleague Jamie Swan.
How did you get there?
We flew with LATAM via São Paulo which is a reasonably direct route in terms of overall journey time. Additionally, by taking the transatlantic flights with LATAM, you're eligible for a better deal on internal flights within Chile.
After arriving in Santiago, we headed straight off to the nearby bohemian port town of Valparaiso, followed by a stop in the Casablanca Valley (famous for the production of Chilean white wines). We then took a flight to Santiago up to the very north for a few days in the Atacama Desert before working our way south first to the alpine Lake District and later to the heart of Patagonia. it was then back to Santiago and off to Easter Island to wrap up the trip before heading home.
Have you been before?
Yes, I was last in Chile 8 years ago.
If so... any notable differences?
The best parts of Chile are the amazing landscapes and outdoor activities on offer, so these are still just as impressive. Chile is becoming an increasingly popular destination which is noticeable at some of the classic highlights, so do consider getting a little more off-the-beaten-track.
Which was your favourite?
Place: Atacama Desert. I just love the landscapes and climate in this high altitude desert. I find that while travellers are often predicting the great experiences they will have in Patagonia, this area really wow's visitors as it catches them off guard.
Hotel: Awasi Patagonia as it's in an amazing remote location on the fringes of the Torres del Paine National Park and with views out to the massif, you do feel away from it all. Add to this the most amazing rooms, Relais Chateaux dining, private guides/drivers and attentive staff, you can't go wrong!
Excursions: Desolation Pass Hike - setting off from Puerto Varas, you walk through barren mountain pass skirting the picturesque Osorno volcano before descending to the amazing glacial lake of Todos Santos. Very rewarding scenery for an easy to moderate difficulty hike.
What was your most memorable moment?
Watching the sun slowly set behind the enormous Moai statues at Ahu Tahai on Easter Island. Both tourists and local alike were out enjoying the atmosphere and views under the last rays of orange light.
Were there any surprises along the way?
Finding places to change money on weekends was not as easy as anticipated, especially outside of Santiago. Withdrawing cash from an ATM as you go is probably the best solution, so it's worth not taking much cash to exchange.
What tips do you have for travellers wanting to visit the same destination?
Personally, I always enjoy travelling to this part of Latin America in their Spring (Oct/Nov) or Autumn (Mar/Apr), to avoid the busiest time and highest prices. You've got a better chance at finding space at your first choice hotels and lodges and the scenery is arguably the most impressive during these seasons of change,
Is there anything indispensible to pack or prepare for?
Chap stick/lip balm is always a good idea in Atacama. The conditions there really dry out your body, so keep hydrated.
Any local snacks, dishes or drinks that should be sampled?
While not the most glamorous dish, we did enjoy sharing an enormous Chorrillana - worth giving it a shot if you're starving. Try one in Valparaiso, the home of this dish.
Any restaurant or bar recommendations?
Check out Bar Liguria in Providencia - a popular and intimate spot with tasty dishes, friendly service and a good selection of wines.
Sum up your trip in a sentence?
Revisiting some of my favourite landscapes in the world with a handful of new active experiences in the Lake District, Torres del Paine and the ever peculiar Easter Island.
Take a look at the different holidays we have to Chile here.