Chile in a Flash

Chile is a beautiful country with its gigantic, radiant blue glaciers and sparkling green forests in the Parque Nacional Del Paine (Towers of Pain). It has unbeatable north coast surfing, the mystical attraction of Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Although granted, it is a good 3,700 km (2,300 miles) to the east of the mainland. Chile is also known for its cultural attractions, one of them being the secret hideaway in Santiago that world-famous poet Pablo Neruda built known as La Chascona, which translates approximately to “messy hair”. There is so much to see in Chile, that we flashpacking devotees require a little focus to hone in on the destination. And because Chile is well-known for its viticulture, the area we chose is around Viña del Mar, in the middle of Chilean wine country. It’s also within easy reach of Santiago and Valparaiso.

Source: Pixabay

Day 1:

You’ve arrived and you need to cool off. So why not enjoy some of the best beaches Chile offers at the country’s top beach resort? Sure, the water isn’t the temperature of the Mediterranean, but it’s refreshing and gorgeous to look at. Okay, so it’s a little more than cold. You can thank the Humboldt Current for that! Not only does it burst up from the ocean floor, but it is also the reason for the lip-smacking seafood you get to eat once you’ve earned your next meal.

We highly recommend the following beaches:

Playa Negra, Concon beach is ideal for all ages. It’s a moderately-sized beach with decent waves. The name of the beach comes from the color of the sand, which is fine and rich in volcanic minerals.

Playa Reñaca is a 1.3-kilometer long (0.8 mile) stretch of beach that is one of the most popular in the area. There’s lots of activity with restaurants, ice-cream stores, cafés, and a sidewalk vibe. Families can go to “El Familiar” but for flashpackers, we suggest “El Cimenterio”.

Playa Caleta Abarca is our bet on the best swimming beach. Surrounded by a cove, the waters are nice and calm and this is a great place for a relaxing dip.

Source: Max Pixel

Day 2:

On this day, we suggest a day trip to the marvelous nearby city of Valparaiso. There are lots to do and you can spend the entire day and an evening there as well.

Our top picks in Valparaiso include:

Le Sebastiana is the perfect thing to do early in the morning, straight after breakfast, where you’ll visit one of Neruda’s historic houses. And don’t forget to put on your walking shoes as it’s a hike. Not just your daily dose of culture, you’ll also get the most awesome views of the harbor from every floor. Linger at leisure and enjoy some of the gifts Pablo received from his equally famous friends make interesting looking.

Norma’s, closed Mondays, is where you should go when you get hungry, and with the cheerful elegance, you can’t go wrong here. A tall stairway leads to this restored house, with polished wood, a traditional, old-fashioned bar and a “menu del dia” including a range of seafood, fish, and other dishes. High ceilings and antique windows make this venue all the more special (normarestaurant@hotmail.com).

Cementerio Disidentes (The Cemetery of Dissidents), open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., may seem an odd choice, but a cemetery is often a perfect place to get a history of a destination, especially this spot, which was once a popular place for settlers from abroad in the 1800s. Furthermore, the views are unrivaled. There are two neighboring Catholic burial grounds, and interestingly, some of the tombstones are multilingual. Often times, they are also flowery and stunning to photograph.

Source: Pixabay

Day 3:

The Casablanca Valley, Aconcagua Valley, Maipo Valley, and San Antonio Valley wine regions are within reach and great for day trips from Viña Del Mar. You can join a tour group or drive yourself, whichever you prefer. Just remember, it’s usually best to visit from October to February for verdant vines or March to May during the harvest.

There are a bunch of different cool-climate wines to taste and some tours include bicycles or even helicopter flips over the most stunning landscapes. The Santa Cruz Vineyard is particularly memorable. You can even take a cable car to the top of the Chamán Hill where you can see constellations at the observatory.

However, when setting off for the day, don’t expect anything like the Napa Valley or South Africa’s Franschhoek. What you’ll be seeing is a South American version is desert landscape and lots of adobe buildings. You may even spot a few local almacenes (grocery stores), where you could stock up on supplies such as bread or empañadas, depending on whether your flashpacking budget extends to the more expensive wine farms for lunch.

Chile is the ideal destination for any flashpacker. Pablo Neruda said it best when he said, “You can crush the flowers, but you can’t stop the spring.” So, travel and enjoy while you still can!

Posted in: Travel Planning

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