Things To Do Around Santiago

Santiago

Santiago is filled with 26 different neighborhoods (barrios) and communes (comunas), which characterize the different faces of the city, including Bellavista, Lastarria and Barrio Italia, so you’ll never run out of places to go or things to see as every turn will bring a new surprise.

There are many different things you can do in the city, see “Santiago – Top Ten Attractions” to learn discover the most popular things to do in the city that you can’t miss!

However, if you’re looking to get away from the hoards, check out the suggestions on our Off The Beaten Path in Santiago de Chile blog to discover some lesser-known hidden treasures.

Santiago sits in a valley surrounded by the snow-capped Andes and is just 1.5 hours from the coast, so it is in the perfect location as there is always something to do. Read on to see some of the best places to visit just outside the city, if you want to escape the bustling city for some peace and quiet, a day on the beach, or an active adventure in the hills!

Cajón del Maipo, 1.5 hours from Santiago

Cajon del Maipo is beautifully located on the border of Argentina in the precordillera of the Andes, just southeast of Santiago. It’s home to El Morado Natural Monument, a mountain reserve with trails to the San Francisco Glacier and Laguna Morales. This is a lovely place to come for a hike, picnic or just to take in the amazing views.

Trekking: Cajon del Maipo is a favorite destination for travelers who want to go hiking and get to see some of the real mountainous countryside. On the Cajón del Maipo official website you can find maps which show you the different paths you can take through the canyon.

One great option is to trek to the Embalse el Yeso, a high altitude reservoir in the Andes just a bit further on from San Jose de Maipo. It’s a challenging hike, taking you up 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) above sea level, however, if you choose to do the trek as part of a tour you will usually be provided with a guide, equipment and snacks for the journey.

There is also the trail to Mirador del Morado, another mountain keen climbers can attempt, at 4,320 meters high (14,173 feet). This whole area is protected by CONAF (the National Forest Corporation) and is a nature reserve in the area near the small town Baños Morales. It is a great place to scout out indigenous fauna and flowers if you are also interested in bird watching and seeing local animals and plants thriving in their natural habitat.

The San Francisco Glacier trek is another one you can tackle, at 4,320 meters high (14,173 feet), however, this trek includes ice climbing so you will need to be prepared.

1366x768_winter_cajon_del_maipo-1571425

Hot Springs: There are three main Hot spring centers in the area: Baños Morales, Baños Colina and Termas El Plomo.

All the Hot Spring are maintained and charge an entrance fee to visitors. Baños Morales is the most accessible one, as you can get there by car, and so is usually the busiest. The access to Baños Colina and Termas el Plomo is a lot harder, therefore they offer wilder landscapes and are usually less crowded, I highly recommend to visit these two hot springs if you can.

Baños Colinas and Baños Morales are both locations which have several outdoor hot springs you can bathe in as well as numerous options for places to stay or get food during your visit.

Visit-Termas-Colina-Baños-Colina-691x518

Adventure activities: Cajon del Maipo has many opportunities for adventure activities if you would like to try something different and find another way to explore the Andes.

Horseback Riding – Horseback Riding is one of the best ways to combine a chance to see the mountains and glaciers whilst conserving some energy to take in the beautiful surroundings. On most horseback riding tours you can see where the real cowboys of Chile come from and encounter many animals and birds in their natural habitat.

Canopy / Zip-lining – Another option is visiting one of the few Canopy parks in the area. Climb to the canopies, cross rope walks or the Maipo river on a zip line!

Rafting / Kayaking – El Maipo River starts up in the glaciers above Baños Colina, very close to the Argentinian border, and follows its way down the valley gathering strength from various lagoons and dams along the way, and flows into the Mapocho river in Santiago. The first section of the river in El Cajón del Maipo Valley is perfect for river sports, such as rafting or kayaking.

c4d529378806d1276a6c4546723b7340

Valparaíso, Viña del Mar and Concón, 1.5 hours from Santiago

These 3 cities are located along the coast on the Pacific Ocean, under 2 hours from Santiago. They are each located about a 10 minute drive from each other, or you can take the metro (subway), or a bus from one city to another along the coastal road. They are great places to explore, go to the beach and eat fabulous seafood.

Valparaíso: Energetic, colorful and poetic, Valparaíso is a wonderful mess. It’s known for its steep hills fitted with funiculars and lifts to travel around, the colorful clifftop homes and the amazing street art painted all over the city. You’ll discover something new at every turn: a gem of a building, a remarkable art gallery or some little gastronomic ‘find’.

Viña del Mar: Clean and orderly Viña del Mar is a sharp contrast to the charming jumble of neighboring Valparaíso. Manicured boulevards lined with palm trees, a sprawling public beach, and beautiful expansive parks have earned it the nickname of Ciudad Jardín (Garden City). Its official name, which means ‘vineyard by the sea,’ stems from the area’s colonial origins as the hacienda of the Carrera family. Viña is a popular weekend and summer destination for well-to-do Santiaguinos – and the carrete (partying) here is first rate.

Concón: Concón, 10km north of Reñaca, is a strange sort of place: part concrete terraced apartment blocks, part elegant villas with flower-filled gardens, part sand dunes, and part beaches. The most popular beaches are the rapidly developing Playa Amarilla and Playa Negra, both good for body boarding and surfing.

2

Casablanca Valley, 1 hour from Santiago

As you may know already, Chile is a proud winemaking country. Casablanca Valley, situated on the coastal plain between Santiago and Valparaíso, is Chile’s fastest growing wine region. The valley is relatively new to the wine industry with wine production beginning as late as the mid-1980s. As a young valley of premium wines, Casablanca Valley boasts a large number of modern cellars with the highest wine-making technology, many of them boutiques wineries. You can see a full list of valleys and wineries in TheBesty Local Guide, but here are three great options:

Indómita: The Indómita castle-like winery sits on top of a vine-covered hill right at the start of Casablanca Valley. They focus on white wine, and their Duette Chardonnay 2009 is particularly delightful with a hint of pineapple and boasting a buttery texture. Wine is not the only treat at Indómita, as their in-house Chef Oscar Tapia serves gourmet Spanish Chilean lunches daily at the Restaurante Viña Indòmita on the property.

Casas del BosqueCasas del Bosque is another great place to have lunch in the valley. It is a family boutique winery that offers premium wine and terrace dining at their Tanino Wine Bar & Lunch. Here you can get Chilean delicacies and sip their unique wines created right in the valley. Their Gran Estate Selection Private Reserve 2007 is particularly noteworthy with its intense violet color and bouquet of blackcurrant, blueberry and anise.

VeramonteVeramonte is one of the largest vineyards in Chile, with over 1,000 acres in the Casablanca Valley. This is a great vineyard to visit for families, as the Veramonte property not only has an antique wine-making exhibit hall filled with old barrels and wine contraptions, but also boasts picnic and game areas among the vines and olive trees. Their most popular varietals are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot.

176_temp_file_bodegas_re_wine_tasting1-846x437

Ski Resorts

As well as wines, Chile is also well known for its skiing. With the whole 3000 mile border with Argentina being the Andes mountain range, you’d expect skiing to be a common activity. There are actually many great ski resorts right outside of Santiago, such as La Parva (just over an hour from Santiago), Valle Nevado (about 1.5 hours from Santiago), El Colorado (about 2 hours from Santiago), and Portillo (about 2.5 hours from Santiago).

The prices during high season sit around $ 45.000 CLP to $ 50.000 CLP for a day pass during high season at each of these resorts. High season is usually from June to September, but due to the altitude of the mountains, there is often snow all year round, even when temperatures reach over 30 degrees Celsius (86F) in the city. Portillo, Valle Nevado and El Colorado all have artificial snow-maker machines, which helps the season last a lot longer too. Check out their websites to find out when they are open.

home-07-invierno-20110520.jpg

Check out our Expert Recommendations, Local Guide, explore and book Local Experiences in Santiago – all in one place.

Download TheBesty app in the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android).

footerpost_en

Chile’s Customs, Cultures & Etiquette

Arriving in any country for the first time can come with a little bit of culture shock. It always helps to quickly read up on the customs, cultures and etiquette of the country rather than accidentally finding yourself in a little bit of a pickle. Here is a guide of everything you need to know before you arrive in Chile, to avoid any unnecessary misconceptions or misunderstandings.

Meeting & Greeting

A kiss or a handshake?

When you first arrive in a new country, it can be tricky if you don’t know how to greet someone properly. For example, if you lean in for a kiss on the cheek, but the other person goes in for a handshake, you might end up awkwardly banging against each other. In Chile, if you’re European like I am, then you might be tempted to go in for a second kiss on the cheek after the first one. If you do, then you’re likely to be left hanging, because one kiss on the cheek is all they do in Chile. Although a kiss on the cheek is the most common way to greet someone, it isn’t always the case.

Men will usually shake hands in all situations, but if they are very close, they will likely greet each other with a big hug (‘un abrazo’) and energetically pat each other on the back. Women will mostly always kiss once on the right cheek, in all situations. In some more formal cases, they may shake hands, but this is uncommon. When it’s a man and a woman, they will mostly always kiss once on the cheek, too.

While Chileans may seem more touchy-feely than you’re used to if you’re from the UK or other more reserved nations, they are not compared to other Spanish/Latin American countries, so they may give you a hug and kiss you on the cheek, but they’re not going to invade your personal space too much.

Remember, any meeting is usually accompanied by the appropriate greeting for the time of day – “buenos dias” (good morning), “buenas tardes” (good afternoon) or “buenas noches” (good evening).

Etiquette of addressing someone

Like many South Americans, Chileans use both their maternal and paternal surnames. The father’s surname comes first and is the one used in conversation. In more formal situations, try to use any titles if you know them, but if no title exists then simply use “Senor” (male) or “Senora” (female) followed by their first name. First names are used between close friends, when they start to call you by your first name, then you are invited to do the same.

AdobeStock_99651771

Language

Spanish in the official language of Chile, although there are also quite a few indigenous languages, such as Mapudungun and Aymara, that are still used. Chilean Spanish is very different than the Spanish spoken in Spain, and so can be very difficult to understand and learn, even for some native Spanish speakers.

Pronunciation: The first reason why Chilean Spanish may be difficult to understand is because it is accented distinctively, with final syllables of words and “s” sounds dropped. The aspiration of the ‘s’ and other letters often makes it hard for those learning Spanish to distinguish where one word ends and another begins.

Example: “Los chilenos son más conservadores” becomes “Loh chilenoh son máh conservadoreh.”

Slang: Like with any country, Chilean Spanish has its own phrases, sayings – slang. In fact, Chile is notorious for its slang (chilenismos).

Chileans love their slang. They use chilenismos and sayings in every sentence, and if you don’t know them, there’s no way you’ll be able to guess what they mean, as they’re so unique. Here are a few examples:

Tocar el violin – to be the third wheel.

Pierna peluda a way of referring to your (male) significant other that literally translates to “hairy leg.” Female significant others can be called pierna suave which means “smooth leg,” since ladies tend to shave their legs.

¿Cachay? – do you get it?, do you understand?

See more about the Chilean language on the Guide to Chilean Spanish blog, or download TheBesty (App Store or Google Play) to see and hear a full list of Chilean slang.

language-barrier

Tipping

Transport: It is NOT necessary to tip your taxi, uber or minivan driver. However, if the trip was fast and efficient, you can simply round the price up to the next thousand, for example, if the trip cost $4,600, you can round it up to $5,000 CLP. If the driver helped with your bags and was extra polite, an extra $1,000 CLP or so would surely be appreciated, too.

Hotels: When you arrive at your hotel, tipping is voluntary, yet expected, so only tip if you feel like the service is good/excellent, that way you encourage better service. It is common to tip Doorman, Bellmen, Concierge, Waiters, Bartenders and Room Cleaning Staff. In small hotels a $1,000 CLP bill should be enough. In Five Star hotels, perhaps consider tipping more.

Restaurants/Bars/Cafés…: The tip is included in the price in 98% of restaurants, bars, pubs and coffee shops in Chile. They will add 10% to your bill total (it should be properly stated on the receipt), and they will ask if you would like to add the tip (“¿con propina?”) as you pay. If the service was excellent, maybe consider something extra and if service is poor, then leave NO tip and the message will get across.

Supermarkets: The people that work bagging your items work for tips, so yes you need to tip them. $200 – $300 CLP should do just fine. If they bagged everything nicely, keeping warm bread away from the ice cream and double bagged the heavy stuff, then go for CLP$500.

9488842693_5400bf55e8_k

Other Customs and Traditions

Asking for directions: Chileans are friendly and always willing to help, especially if you are a foreigner. This willingness to help, however, often leads them to give directions that aren’t always accurate. Instead of saying “I don’t know where that is, sorry”, a Chilean may proceed to give you directions anyway. Unfortunately, these erroneous directions aren’t always easy to spot. They are given with confidence and sound reasonable, so be sure to cross-check with other people, or have a map handy! You can see offline maps within TheBesty app when you download the Local Guide section.

A-Senior-Man-With-A-Tablet-asking-for-directions

Fiestas and bank holidays: Festivals and holidays are a vibrant part of Chilean life, they love to go above and beyond and celebrate in large groups of family and close friends.

Independence Day (Fiestas Patrias) is the biggest event of the year in Chile and is celebrated on 18th September. It marks the beginning of the Chilean independence from Spain. The celebrations generally last for a week and include food, drink, dancing, parades and rodeos. Note that for large events or bank holidays the city shuts down and the streets go quiet. If you want to really experience the true feeling of celebration on Independence Day, you should go to a fonda (a party with lots of traditional Chilean music and drinks during the national holidays), or a family/friends party, otherwise you might struggle to find anything going on!

cueca

Meal times: Chileans usually eat four times a day. The first meal of the day is breakfast, which consists of rather light meal most commonly including toasted bread with butter and instant coffee with milk.

Lunch (served between 1:00 and 2:00 PM) is the biggest meal of the day. Traditionally, two main dishes are served. The first course is often the ensalada chilena, including sliced onions, chopped and peeled tomatoes, an oil and vinegar dressing, and fresh cilantro. The second dish will be a heavier dish such as the traditional Pastel de Choclo or Cazuela.

Around 5:00 PM, Chileans take their once, an afternoon tea with bread and jam, which often also includes cheeses and palta (avocados).

Around 9:00 PM, most families serve dinner, which is usually a single but substantial dish, most often accompanied with wine grown in one of the many Central Valley vineyards.

chile-family-meals

You can find a list of all the different types of traditional Chilean food and drinks, learn about the Chilean slang and chilenismos, search for events happening near you and book tours and activities all in one place on TheBesty App, so be sure to download it on Google Play or the App Store!

footerpost_en

What You Need to Know Before Landing in Santiago

When you travel to a new destination, you may need to spend a few hours researching what you need to do on arrival. This guide is made to help make this process easier and simpler for you, with the top things to know once you have landed in Santiago, Chile.

Border Control & Visas

The first place you’ll get to after getting off the plane is border control, where they will check if you’re allowed to enter the country or not (it’s not as scary as it sounds).

If you are a citizen of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the EU or South Africa then you won’t need a visa, just your passport (it is not possible to enter with an identity card). As soon as you arrive at the border you will get a stamp in your passport and a receipt-like Tourist Card (Tarjeta de turismo / PDI) which you must not lose (but if you do, don’t worry, just read on). This card entitles you to stay in Chile for up to 90 days for any tourism activities. However, a short exit and re-entry of Chile (e.g. a weekend trip to Mendoza in Argentina), will automatically renew the tourist card for another 90 days.

Theoretically, you can repeat this process as often as you like. This type of extending your visa is not regulated by law, neither allowed nor forbidden, but in general, does not lead to any problems, and so many foreigners tend to take advantage of this opportunity.

Alternatively, you can request an extension for about 100 US dollars at the Departamento de Extranjería in Santiago (Agustinas 1235, Phone +56 (2) 5502 469) or in other regions at the Gobernación Provincial, but make sure you do this in plenty of time for the extension to be approved (at least 20 days).

dich-vu-lam-visa-can-tho-min

For practiced activities within Chile, e.g. an internship, summer job or volunteer work, a visa is officially required, you can find information on what visa you need from your country’s government website or the Chilean Embassy of your country (example: USAUK etc).

Most foreigners, however, enter the country with a tourist card. To be sure, it’s recommended that you contact a Chilean Consulate in your country and discuss your particular case with the staff. You should estimate 6-8 weeks for the processing time of a visa.

Since the copy of the tourist card must be kept until departure, if you lose it you will have to get a new card at the Policía Internacional in Santiago, General Borgoño 1052, Metro Calicanto, open Mon-Fri 8:30am-12:30pm, or in other regions at the Policía de Investigaciones. This is a fairly simple process, all you have to do is fill out a paper and they will print a new one for you, but the queue to do this may be very long so you could be there a few hours!

Baggage Claim

Before you land in Chile, you will be given a declaration form to fill out. The form only requires some basic information such as Name, Passport Number, address where you will be staying (so make sure you have that written down if you don’t already), and boxes to fill in declaring what you have in your suitcase.

What you can and can’t bring in to Chile is pretty similar to most countries, you must not have more than USD $10,000 or it’s equivalent in other countries cash or bearer negotiable instruments over this amount and you must not carry any plant or animal products.

After you pick up your suitcase off the luggage belt, you will need to then pass it through a security scanner and hand over the filled-out paperwork. So long as you are not carrying anything you shouldn’t, this should be a quick process. Just remember to fill out the paper before you get to this point.

ProblemWithBaggage

Getting from the Airport to Santiago: Transportation Services

The airport is located about 30km from the center of Santiago. The ride from the airport to downtown could last from 15 minutes to 1 hour, depending the time that you arrive and which transportation you choose. The options are:

Taxi: A taxi stand is located outside the first level of the airport, adjacent to the international arrivals exit. Taxis are available here 24 hours a day, all year round. A taxi to Santiago will cost roughly between $15.000 CLP and $30.000 CLP. The official number for taxis is +56 (2) 6901381.

Uber: Uber is actually prohibited at SCL Airport, but this doesn’t seem to be stopping the drivers. The instructions for the Uber pick-up are explained on the Uber website, but keep in mind there may not be many Ubers around if the carabineros (police) are around too. The cost of the Uber ride into the city will vary from $10.000 CLP to $20.000 CLP depending on where you are staying in the city.

Minivan: The minivans are located at the national arrivals area. They are a private transport service with a maximum capacity of 12 people that take passengers to their homes. The two most popular minivan services are Trans­Vip and Delfos, and they will charge between $20.000 CLP and $40.000 CLP depending on how many passengers are traveling and where in the city you are staying.

Bus: Located near domestic arrivals area you will find two companies that offer a bus service to the city: Cen­troP­uerto and Tur­Bus. These services run every 15 and 30 minutes and go to the city center. This is by far the cheapest option, costing just $2.500 CLP, but it will take a lot longer to get to your desired location, especially if your location is not too close to a bus stop in Santiago.

As always, there is the option of renting a car, you will notice the rental agency counters alongside the taxi and shuttle bus companies upon arrival.

Tipping

It is NOT necessary to tip your taxi, uber or minivan driver. However, if the trip was fast and efficient, you can simply round the price up to the next thousand, for example, if the trip cost $4,600, you can round it up to $5,000 CLP. If the driver helped with your bags and was extra polite, an extra $1,000 CLP or so would surely be appreciated, too.

RS Tipping in a taxi

Once you have arrived at your final destination after your journey, be sure to download the TheBesty App to book the best tours and activities, discover fun things to do near you, and find the guaranteed lowest prices on hotel bookings.

footerpost_en

 

 

 

 

 

Hiking the W-Trek of the Torres del Paine: An Ultimate Bucket-List Experience

When I first arrived in Chile, or even, when I first started to plan my trip to Chile, all I saw was the following photo, in some form or another. It was on the front of every single travel book, on posters, postcards, ads and even on the 1000 peso bill. I had to go.

Three-Towers-and-glacial-lake-at-Torres-del-Paine-National-Park

I arrived in Chile in August and hoped to travel to the towers at the end of my stay, in April, but one thing led to another, and there I was in November, setting off for my trip to Patagonia.

Fortunately for me, the trip was already planned by a good friend of mine, Tannis, who was meant to go with another friend, but who could no longer make it. She invited me to go, and of course, I said yes. Just three days later, I was at Santiago airport, ready to board my flight to Punta Arenas, one of the most Southern cities of the world.

From Punta Arenas, Tannis and I jumped straight into a coach which took us up to Puerto Natales, which took around 2 hours. Puerto Natales is a really lovely town which sits on the Patagonian fjords and is the closest piece of civilization to the park.

20171113_111012

We spent quite a few days there before we set off on our trek, so we had time to pack and prepare for our trip and get all the last bits and bobs we needed. Turns out we were quite unprepared, well I certainly was.

The main thing we had to buy was food, of course, we were doing the whole trek unguided, so we needed to buy all of our food for 5 days at once, which included a lot of beans, rice, soup and chocolate.

received_10155277868448403.jpeg

The other thing I wasn’t prepared for, was how cold it was (most nights dropping below freezing). So I had to buy a hat, a long-sleeved underlayer and some wind-proof trousers, among other things.

If you want to be more prepared, unlike I was, then you can check out Zoe Baillargeon’s ultimate packing guide, on the Cascada Travel website.

It was soon time to start the trek. We actually did the reverse W-Trek, where you finish at the Torres del Paine, rather than start there. You can do the trek either way round, the distance and difficulty stay almost the same, but we liked the idea of finishing at the towers, almost like a reward. What we did was pretty similar to this:

w trek map torres del paine 5.jpg

Pretty soon after you leave Puerto Natales, your signal cuts out, there’s no wifi (except in a few of the refuges, but it’s really expensive), and you’ve disconnected from the world.

The W-Trek Day 1:

Day one was a great day because at that point of the trek you’re in such high spirits, you feel good, you have lots of energy, and you’re not sick of beans and rice yet.

The day starts by taking a bus to the Torres Del Paine National Park, where you will have to pay an entrance fee of $21.000 CLP and be briefed on the safety and security of the park, before taking a catamaran boat (another $15.000 CLP) to the Refugio Paine Grande, which has bathrooms, a café and a minimarket, so you can grab the last few things you need before starting the trek.

From there, the trail leads up through a long windy track, all the way to the Grey Glacier and the Refugio Grey, where you can camp for the night. It’s only an 11km trek, and the shortest trek of the whole trip, but as it was the first, we weren’t used to the distance, especially while carrying such big bags on our backs, so it felt like miles.

Every turn you take on this trek opens up to a brand new piece of stunning scenery until eventually, you get to the massive Grey Glacier (what you see in this photo below is only one side of the glacier). I had never even seen an iceberg before that day, so that alone was really cool, let alone the glacier.

20171115_195811_HDR.jpg

The W-Trek Day 2:

Day 2, is one of the longest days of the trek (depending on your route). We had to walk the 11km back down the way we came to the Refugio Paine Grande, and then another 8km to our next campsite, Campamento Italiano.

(Let me just mention that 19km feels like about 30km when you’ve not slept much because of the cold, you’re carrying a 15kg backpack and it’s pretty hilly).

The second part of our trek that day was stunning, just like the first. As the trail opened up onto a small lake called Lago Scottsberg, with an amazing backdrop of the Cumbre Bariloche and the recognizable Cuerno Principal.

20171116_172910_HDR

The two parts of the trail are very different, with half being along one side of the mountain range, and the other half being along the other side. It goes from more rocky and narrow paths to more flat and grassy paths. The change in scenery makes the whole trail more interesting and exciting as you continue along the route, before arriving at the Campamento Italiano.

The W-Trek Day 3:

I was still feeling awesome on day 3. I was tired and a little sore, but none of that mattered, I was in Patagonia, the most amazing place I had ever been.

On this part of the trek, you get to hike up into the Valle Frances, to the Mirador Britannico. The trek to the middle of the valley was 6,5km, with the last kilometre or so being up a steep hill that takes you to the amazing Mirador (viewpoint), perched right a the top of a rock, where you can see a 360° panoramic view of the whole valley. It’s the perfect place to sit and relax, have a picnic or a snack, and take in the beautiful scenery.

20171117_142708

While the majority of this route is through the forest, there are several stops along the way which also offer phenomenal views. One of which, about 2km in, looks directly out to the Glacier Francés.

For the very first time since we had arrived, there were blue skies all day long, which made this trek even more beautiful. Another great thing about day 3, is that you get to hike without your bags for the first time, as no matter where you camp next, you have to pass by Campamento Italiano again so you can leave them there, and pick up them up on your way down.

20171117_130120

When we arrived at the viewpoint, we sat on the rock for a good while snacking on chocolate, of course, until we decided we had better make our way back, as we had another 10km to do that day, back to the original point we started at, then a little further on to the next campsite.

There are three options of places you can stay from that point, Campamento Italiano for a second time, Campamento El Francés, which is an extra 3km away, and Refugio Los Cuernos, another 2,5km after that. We chose Campamento El Francés, but right before we got back to the point we started at to pick up our bags, Tannis tripped and badly hurt her knee (tore her meniscus, ouch). So change of plans, we stayed at that campsite another night, with no idea what we were going to do the next day.

The W-Trek Day 4:

Day 4 was hard, we decided to push through and continue in the right direction, I took all the heaviest things in my bag, as well as much of Tannis’ stuff as I could fit, to try and make it a little easier for her. It turns out that trek was quite a bit longer than we thought… a total of 21km, but we made it in the end.

Most of the path is along the Lago Nordernskjöld, a bright blue lake which stood out despite the grey clouds overhead. It was hard to get my phone out without it getting too wet because of the rain or fly away in the wind, but I managed to capture this:

20171118_130901

It was heavily raining and incredibly windy for the majority of the trek when we did it, but we made it in under 10 hours. As usual, though, the whole trail was just so incredibly beautiful that I think it was worth the pain (just).

The last few kilometres that day were really hard, Tannis was limping and in a lot of pain, and I couldn’t even feel my legs at that point, but we were there, at the Las Torres Campsite, the last campsite of the trip, and where we would be leaving from the next day, after our last trek up to the Torres Del Paine and back.

The W-Trek Day 5:

Day 5 is the big day, the final day of the W-Trek, and the day of the Torres del Paine!

From the Las Torres campsite, the Torres Del Paine are a 10km hike away, with the last kilometer being incredibly steep and difficult, rising over 600m and taking the average person almost one hour to climb. At the end of the trek, you arrive right at the base of the towers, where you can take your insta-perfect pictures, of course, and sit and take in the stunning view of the towers, before heading back the way you came, for another 10km.

This is what’s supposed to happen anyway, but it didn’t go so well for us, that day was the foggiest and windiest day yet, and we were told by so many people that it wouldn’t be worth the trip up there because it’s the steepest trail of all, the winds were 74km/h that day, the temperatures were severely low, and we probably wouldn’t get to see the towers anyway because of the fog. On top of all that, we didn’t know if Tannis would make it on her knee.

We didn’t make it all the way to the towers, but we gave it a go and did get to see them… just for a few minutes.

received_10213088274434954

Believe it or not though, I wasn’t disappointed. I was tired, hungry and ache-y, but definitely not disappointed. Foggy or not they were still amazing.

Every single bit of the 5-day journey to the towers was stunning, beautiful and honestly, life-changing. The towers are incredible, of course, but if you come to Patagonia just to see them, and not the rest of the park, then I think you’re missing out.

The W-Trek is an experience, an adventure and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If it’s not on your bucket list yet, then it should be! I loved every second of it, some bits were harder than others, but every bit was worth it, and I would’ve done it all again!

20171119_132731

If you’d like to find out about more trekking opportunities in Chile, or are interesting in this trip and others, be sure to download the TheBesty app to book the best tours and activities, discover fun things to do, and find the guaranteed lowest prices on hotel bookings – all in Latin America.Which-one-do-you-prefer-Apple-Store-or-Google-Play

 

What to Pack for Your Trip to Chile

Packing. Some love it, some hate it. Either way, I’ve created a packing list for those visiting Chile, to make the process a little easier for you.

I am currently in Chile, and will be here for 8 months in total, before I continue my journey around South America and eventually, back home. So I had to pack everything I needed to last me up to 10 months, in just two bags, to ensure I could carry it all around when I travel with no problem.

No matter who you are and where you’re traveling in Chile or around, this list should simplify your packing process and make the whole experience a little less stressful.

Clothes

  • 2 Pairs of Jeans – Jeans are an essential because they’re incredibly versatile. You can wear them anytime, anywhere and if they’re not white, you can wear them over and over and over again.
  • 1 Pair of Convertible Pants – They’re ugly, they’re certainly not cool, but they’re actually incredibly useful. They’re especially useful in Chile where the temperatures vary massively and most places the temperature drops significantly at night. Convertible pants are also much easier to hand wash and are a lot lighter to pack than jeans. I wear them a lot when I hike because it’s cold in the morning, and then you start to get hotter the more you walk and the hotter it gets you can turn them into shorts.
  • 2 Pair of Shorts – It gets hot in Chile, especially if you’re travelling up in Northern Chile, so you’ll want shorts. The best part is, they take up very little space.
  • 5 or more T-Shirts – You’ll wear your tees every day, so bring ones you can wear over and over and won’t get bored of.
  • 1 Long-Sleeve Shirt – You know, to keep a little warmer.
  • 2 nicer clothes (shirts, dresses) – No matter what you plan to do when you travel, you’ll want something to dress up a little, whether that’s because you like to go clubbing, out for dinner at a nice restaurant or likely to try and impress someone while you’re here.
  • 2 hoodies or jumpers – Again, it depends on where and when you go. But I recommend bringing a comfortable hoodie you like to lounge around in and you know will keep you warm, and a nicer one you can wear out to dinner.
  • 1 waterproof jacket –These are awesome. I use mine all the time. I’d never thought I’d say this, because this is the type of freebie thing you can get anywhere, but invest in one you like to wear regularly, and this is what you’ll be wearing daily. It packs lightly and weighs nothing, I keep mine in my bag wherever I go.
  • 1 large coat –Your need for a Jacket will also depend on where and when you’re going. Anywhere Santiago and South I’d recommend bringing one, especially if you’re going in the winter.
  • Hat/Scarf/Gloves – Especially if you’re planning to ski, or going down south to Patagonia for example, where it gets cold.
  • Underwear (pants, socks, bras) – This is one thing that does depend a lot on how long you’re staying. Some things you can get away with wearing over and over, and some things you can’t. This is one of those things where you can’t. Bring as many as you can fit in the extra space in your bags… unless you know there will be a washing machine nearby the duration of your trip.
  • 1 pair of trainers or hiking boots – If you plan to hike a lot, then don’t forget to wear proper hiking boots rather than trainers, I made that mistake and the result is a very bruised backside, because the hills are pretty steep in the Andes… clearly.  If not, trainers will do you fine.
  • 2 pairs of everyday shoes – Cutting down on shoes was the hardest decision of all. I started at 8 pairs, and managed to narrow it down to 2. These are annoying to pack as they are heavy and take up a lot of space, so don’t be tempted!
  • 1 Pair flipflops or sandals – For the warmer days. Waterproof sandals are a good idea as well if you’re planning to go camping or staying in hostels where you might want to wear them in the shower!
  • PJs – Two pairs will probably cut it, perhaps a pair for hotter temperatures and a warmer pair for when it’s colder.
  • Gym clothes – The amount you want to bring is dependant on the amount of exercise you plan on doing while you’re here, but I’d bring at least one and you’re bound to need it for at least one of the thousands of activities there are available to do here.
  • Swimsuit – Whether it’s in the sea, a swimming pool or volcanic hot springs, you’ll want a swimsuit!

packing-luggage-for-a-big-trip

Toiletries

Most places you go will provide you with the basic shampoo, soap, etc. and remember, you can always buy some once you arrive but some things you want to remember to bring so that you have them as soon as you land.

Some things to think about:

  • Toothbrush / Toothpaste
  • Makeup – Try only bring what you really need!
  • Medicine – If you need to bring a lot, then bring a prescription.
  • Nail clippers / Tweezers
  • Razor / Shaving cream – Unless you have a tremendous beard you plan on keeping.
  • Glasses / Contact lenses – Basically whatever you need to see.
  • Female sanitary products
  • Hairbrush / Comb – Plus any hair products you need.
  • Deodorant – The key to smelling good when you’re wearing the same clothes you have been for a while.
  • Towel – Towels are likely provided wherever you stay, but I brought one of the compact ones just in case and use it a lot.
  • Sunscreen

I wouldn’t recommend bringing a hair dryer or hair straighteners/curlers if you’re not going to use them every day, as they’re big and bulky!

travel-04

Electronic Equipment

  • Adaptors – Chile uses type C and L plugs. So you may not need an adaptor, as type C plugs are fairly common. If you do need to bring them, then I’d recommend bringing one plug-to-socket adaptors (for bigger devices such as laptops or cameras), and one 2-USB-to-Socket one (for phones and tablets). Info about Chilean plugs available on this website: https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/gb/chile/
  • Phone + Charger
  • Laptop/Tablet/etc. + Chargers – If you think you’ll need them
  • Portable battery – If you don’t have one I’d recommend investing in one no matter what you plan to do once you get to Chile.
  • Camera – Unless you plan on just using your phone for pictures.
  • Headphones

9EdeDB4

Other

  • PASSPORT – Obvious of course, but it’s the one thing you absolutely can’t forget.
  • Sunglasses / Cap
  • Money – I’d recommend getting about 200,000 CLP out before you arrive, so you’re ready with cash in hand when you land
  • Prepaid travel card – Not necessarily needed depending on your situation, but I needed one as I couldn’t open up a bank account while I was here. They’re a great and easy way take out cash while you’re here, for no cost (if you go to the right bank. I used Monzo, you can find out a little more about Monzo here: https://monzo.com/
  • Money belt or similar – Chile is not a dangerous country, but they do have a reputation for sneaky pickpocketers. I bought a dinky purse that loops onto my belt and so far hasn’t had any problems.
  • Travel Backpack – No matter what the purpose of your travel is, I’d recommend bringing a travel backpack for several reasons. 1) It’s the easiest to carry around, 2) It’ll stop you bringing too much stuff, and 3) even if you’re not planning on travelling too much, I’m sure you’ll be tempted as it’s so easy to travel in and around chile for not much money!
  • Smaller backpack – Try bringing a versatile one that’s suitable for a trip to town as well as a hike or tour.
  • Pen and notebook – I like to always keep one on me, whether it’s to quickly note something I want to remember down or to log what I’ve been up to.

A few final notes before you go…

If you’re currently thinking I’m crazy for suggesting to bring such a small amount of clothes for such a long amount time, then let me explain.

Before I came I remember my University Year Abroad Director saying “Pack half the amount of clothes and twice the amount of money” and she couldn’t have been more right. You won’t notice it’s missing if you don’t have it with you, and if you really need something you don’t have, then you can always buy a new one.

So, I’d pack the same amount of clothes for 2 months than I would for 6 or months, so long as you have enough to keep warm, keep cool, and keep comfortable.

Lastly, remember that you’ll want to save space for souvenirs and things to bring back, so make sure you leave some space for that.

That’s it! You’re ready for your adventure!

If you’re looking for some fun things to do when you get here then download the TheBesty app to book the best tours and activities, discover fun things to do, and find the guaranteed lowest prices on hotel bookings – all in one place.

Download TheBesty app in the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android).

 

Visit the Piedra de Aguíla, one of the best viewpoints in Chile!

Piedra del Águila is definitely a must-see if you’re traveling around Angol, Concepción or anywhere nearby. It’s the best viewpoint from the whole mountain range and one of the best in Chile.

Piedra-del-aguila-nahuelbuta-sernatur-ATR310

The Piedra del Águila is located in the Nahuelbuta National Park, a stunning location especially known for its unique Araucarian trees, which are extremely tall and resemble stools popping out over the dense forest below.

These unique trees are native to central and southern Chile and western Argentina. They are considered to be a Chilean national tree and the Nahuelbuta National Park is a great place to see them while also taking in the views of the west and east.

maxresdefault

The Piedra del Águila, a large rock that looks out over the great forest and the National Park, offers extraordinary views towards the Pacific Ocean and Mocha Island on one side, and to the volcanoes and towering mountains of the Andes on the other side.

Araucarias_en_el_mirador_Piedra_del_Águila

The trek up to the rock alone is an awesome adventure, the Araucaria trees will tower over you as you walk through the dense forest.

From the park entrance, it takes roughly 1 hour to get to the rock, along a 6km track. It’s a suitable walk for people of all ages to come and enjoy so take your family, your friends or even your colleagues to come on the adventure with you!

nahuelbuta-np-01

Spring is the perfect time of the year to start your outdoor activities and get active again after the cold winter and it really is a phenomenal place that you must visit, whether you’re a local or a tourist!

If you traveling in Latin America, download the TheBesty app to book the best tours and activities, discover fun things to do, and find the guaranteed lowest prices on hotel bookings – all in Latin America.

Download TheBesty app in the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android).

Vineyard Tours With More Than Just Wine

One of the best things about visiting Chile is that in just a couple of hours you can make it from the heart of the desert to the beach, from snow capped mountaintops to the city, or from the countryside to the depths of former mines. Even better yet, you can do this all with a glass of wine in hand. Check out these fantastic tours which offer more than just wine.

wine valleys

Continue reading

Discovering Chile’s Best Vineyards

If you love a glass of wine or two, and you’re about to visit Chile, South America’s viticulture centre of excellence, you’re about to visit a country with 400 vineyards dedicated to the production of premium wines! The majority of vineyard are concentrated in 8 valleys which find themselves located from the shadow of Los Andes, to a stones throw from the coast, from the outskirts of metropolis Santiago, to in tiny villages where life seems to go at the pace of an eternal Sunday. With so many options, the choice of which to visit can prove mind-boggling, but if you find yourself in this quandary, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Keep reading and discover four of the best vineyards to visit during your time in this wonderful country.

Ruta-vino-Chile

Continue reading

A guide to Chilean Spanish

To native Spanish speakers and non-native speakers alike, Chilean Spanish can sometimes leave you scratching your head wandering what all this ‘weón/wea’ nonsense is about, but don’t worry! Have a read of this guide to Chilean and the next time a Chilean asks you ‘cachai?’, you can respond with an emphatic ‘si po weón!’.

huevon3

Continue reading

Off The Beaten Path in Santiago de Chile

In Santiago, you are never short of things to do and places to see, however sometimes the crowds can begin to feel overwhelming. If you’re looking to get away from the hoards, check out these suggestions to discover some lesser-known hidden treasures.

Continue reading