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Things to do for 4 days in Chile in late September?
June 7, 2007 3:27 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be in Chile for work at the end of September and I'll have a few days to travel around at the end of the trip. Being a female travelling alone, I probably won't want to be in the middle of nowhere, so I suppose I'll have to stick to the well-travelled areas. I can start my travels either from near La Serena or Santiago (work is near La Serena, flight home is from Santiago). I'm very, very excited about seeing some of South America, but I'm a bit overwhelmed! What have you done in Chile that was really awesome? What should I not miss? What local dishes should I make sure to try?
posted by kms to Travel & Transportation around Chile (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I haven't done this, so can't recommend it personally, but something to look into: catch the Santiago - Easter Island plane and spend a day or few poking around there.

As an added bonus, many flights carry on to Tahiti so if your flight home isn't set in stone, you might be able to fly home from Tahiti instead.
posted by rjt at 3:57 PM on June 7, 2007


I love Chilean sea bass (also known as corvina). I like it a la plancha - grilled. It's so expensive here, but there it's not. And empenadas are great as appetizers and come stuffed with all sorts of things.

What kind of budget do you have? can you afford to fly to other areas? Chile is split into three main areas - The Atacama Desert (fly into Calama), the Lakes District (Puerto Montt) or Patagonia (Punta Arenas).

Need more info on what kind of things you like to do... are you a hiker? Shopper? Love nature? Prefer cities?
posted by HeyAllie at 3:58 PM on June 7, 2007


Only one airline flies to Easter Island from Santiago, and that's Lan Chile. They have a monopoly, so flights are usually about $900 from the mainland. OUCH.
posted by HeyAllie at 3:59 PM on June 7, 2007


HeyAllie - I love hiking & the outdoors, but I'm going to be alone, so I don't want to be too far from civilization. I love walking around in the city too. I love beaches. I'd really like to see some alpacas, if possible.

I'm a grad student, so I can't afford that much, but I'm not sure when I'll be back in Chile again so I would be willing to pay if there is something I should definitely see. Sadly $900 is out of the range, even though Easter Island sounds amazing.
posted by kms at 4:14 PM on June 7, 2007


I just asked a similar question not too long ago and got some good answers. I ended up flying to Calama to go to San Pedro de Atacama, which was expensive but very worth it. Round trip tickets were around 200, plus money for a bus, and there's a million things to do up there, stargazing, geysers/hot springs, desert tours and sandboarding to name some of the popular options. The stargazing tour alone was worth it - to see the Southern sky with basically nothing obstructing your view - amazing. Plus there's an awesome guy who gives tours in English with high powered telescopes... yes I'm still ranting - it was that good. You should go.

That's probably still a bit expensive, so I'd recommend a day or overnight trips to Valparaiso/Vina del Mar. Bus tickets are around 4 dollars or so, it's 1-2 hours from Santiago. It was nice to get out of the smog of Santiago, I really liked Valparaiso, it has really cool graffiti and hillside elevators.

You could also look into doing an overnight bus trip to Argentina, which is a long ride, but you get to drive over the Andes and see another part of South America.
posted by fermezporte at 4:47 PM on June 7, 2007


Forgot to mention - San Pedro was an area I saw a ton of people traveling alone. I seemed fairly safe (normal precautions obviously still in effect) and it was easy to find friendly Spanish/English/German/whatever speaking tourists to help you out.
posted by fermezporte at 4:50 PM on June 7, 2007


Seconding Valparaiso as an inexpensive, not too far alternative since you only have a couple of days. Don't forget to check out Pablo Neruda's houses! Very cool - then again, I'm a big fan of his words.
posted by HeyAllie at 5:41 PM on June 7, 2007


I have an old friend who just moved to Santiago two months for a job with the Atacama Large Millimeter Array. She may be too busy to correspond much, but if you like I could email her and ask if she has any recommendations for you. Though perhaps she's so new there and probably loaded with work that she may not yet have much experience with regional recreational opportunities.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:03 AM on June 8, 2007


“...two months ago...”
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:04 AM on June 8, 2007


I second San Pedro de Atacama. You may also like Pucon, a day or two south from Santiago. It's great for outdoorsy things like bike riding and hiking up a volcano! I did a tandem skydive there that was amazing.
posted by markdj at 2:02 AM on June 8, 2007


If you're in La Serena, you can go up the Valle de Elqui, drink some pisco, smoke some grass, meet the hippies, maybe spend a night at a commune or one of the flying-saucer temples.
Nthing Valparaiso. Spend at least 1 or 2 nights there.
Alpacas are way up north, in the highlands (Altiplano).
Santiago itself is rather bland, don't plan on more than 2 or 3 days here (I live in Stgo).
Chile is a fairly safe country for SF travellers, though usual precautions apply.
posted by signal at 12:26 PM on June 9, 2007


Hi everyone, thanks so much for the suggestions! I had a great time in Chile, although I wish I had longer to travel. I ended up staying for 2 days around La Serena. I went to the Elqui Valley and drove around, went to a pisco distillery and then had some really awesome fruit juice at a roadside stand run by a very nice woman named Jimena on the road to the town of Pisco Elqui. I also went to see the Valle del Encanto which has a lot of pre-Incan petroglyphs and then took a hike at Fray Jorge National Park (which is a dense, mossy forest in the middle of the desert that is sustained solely by fog, very cool). The Valle del Encanto and Fray Jorge trips were with a Swiss guy who runs Jeep tours. He was great. If you want to go with him, you can find him through the Hostal el Punto in La Serena (which is where I stayed and it was a very nice place).

I also spent a day in Valparaiso mainly just walking around and riding ascensiors. I went to Pablo Neruda's house and enjoyed it very much. He had some unique taste in decor. One thing I do not recommend for those travelling to Valparaiso is Casa Aventura (a hostel). After reserving a room far in advance and emailing about it with the staff in the week before I arrived, they deleted my reservation the morning before I got there for some reason and gave away my room.

Aside from the Valparaiso hostel mixup it was a great trip! Thanks again for all the suggestions and if anyone reads this and is planning to be around La Serena, feel free to email me if you want to hear more.
posted by kms at 1:22 PM on October 7, 2007


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