NYE, UTC−04:00 edition.
December 6, 2012 11:22 AM   Subscribe

Chile, Dec 26th to Jan 5th, flying in and out of Santiago. Please help this South America newbie create an itinerary that allows us to see as much as possible in such a short time. Also, where should we, a young-ish more-or-less American couple, celebrate NYE?

I'm looking for interesting experiences, local culture and community, magnificent sights (natural or otherwise – we will bring hiking boots) and good food. We don't tend to linger in one place for too long. We usually prefer renting a car to traveling by bus, but are also open to trains and local flights as long as they are not too expensive (flights to Calama are $700pp, that's too expensive) and will listen to all suggestions!
posted by halogen to Travel & Transportation around Chile (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Celebrate in Valparaiso, because it is awesome, and don't get scared about warnings about it being dangerous.
posted by sandmanwv at 11:42 AM on December 6, 2012

Valparaiso will be packed NYE. Probably awesome but not if crowds aren't your thing.

The one thing I think you have to do is go hike Monumento Natural El Morado in Cajón del Maipo. You can take a bus from Santiago to Baños Morales and it's a couple hours ride. I suppose you could drive there but the roads are a little iffy and it's probably just easier to bus it. Crazy beautiful and not too strenuous of a hike. There's a lot of other good places to hike around Santiago, especially if you have a car but El Morado is the best.

I live here so MeMail me if you have any specific questions.
posted by saul wright at 3:30 PM on December 6, 2012

I've only spent a few days in Santiago, and it was a half-dozen years ago, but I would highly recommend the steakhouse Las Vacas Gordas. I went there for lunch a couple of times and it was terrific: great typical food and a really warm, mildly carnivalesque atmosphere. Lots of extended local families who looked like they were celebrating graduations and babies.

One note of warning: you'll see e.g., at the outdoor cafes in the plazas that there are fasteners for snapping your bags to your chair. Use them! At first I thought they were theatre for paranoid tourists, but five minutes after sitting down my tablemate's bag was snatched by a skateboarder, and I saw another bag snatching a day or two later. So it's a real thing: use the fasteners :-)
posted by Susan PG at 5:20 PM on December 6, 2012

There is no doubt Valparaiso is the place to be on New Years. Yes, it will be packed, so if you hate huge crowds find a place a little bit up the hills to watch from, perhaps your hotel/hostal will have a good rooftop, terrace, or recommended lookout point close by. If you like huge crowds yes don't let warnings worry you.. you're fine if you're careful with your camera/wallet and dont drink so much you become an easy target... Also huge crowds may eventually be hosed down by police but this is usually around dawn in packed street parties. Best to plan to stay a day or a few on either side of New Years as everyone is also trying to do the same thing. There is lots of do in the area so you could find things to do with your time. (city wandering, restaurants, small day trips)

Unfortunately, if you do New years in Valpo it cuts your trip in 2 parts, and some of the interesting places can take a while to get to... San Pedro(20ish hours by bus) and Chiloe/surrounding areas (14ish hours by bus) are both great trips where you'll need the good part of a day to travel each way, plus about a 3 days stay would be needed to do a quick trip of the major sites/activities, more time would be fine, less time will make you choose between getting to see the different options.

You may find cheaper national flights once you are here. Online there is often a different price at some of the international sites vs. the local sites, the catch is often that it wont accept an international credit card on the national site, though you could maybe get around this by paying in cash so check this out before you plan 24 hours in bus.

There are many small seaside villages in the 5th region (Valparaiso coast) which are relaxed, cute, etc... which may be worth a day trip or renting a cabin if youd like something like this... For example Horcon is a small fishing village, Maitencillo is a little beach down which will have many Chilean tourists...

Isla Negra, one of Pablo Neruda's houses is an interesting day trip. Also vineyards, such as in the Casablanca valley between Santiago and Valparaiso.
posted by nzydarkxj at 8:40 PM on December 13, 2012

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