The Great South American Journey: Chile

I spent approximately an month in Chile, criss crossing between Argentina and Chile in Patagonia. Chile, too, is a stunningly beautiful country with amazing and diverse landscapes and excellent food/wine.

I started in the South and moved upto the North over a month. My first two stops were at Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales to get my first glimpse of Patagonia. Punta Arenas is a large town and seems to be a stop over either on the way to Ushuaia or to Puerto Natales. However, one can take a cruise to go check out the Penguin colonies residing here. Given, I was in Antarctica, I did not do so. I stopped over for 2 days and then headed to Puerto Natales. At the same time, I fell sick so I didnt have much eneregy (nor the fitness levels) to hike around Torres Del Paine. Instead at Puerto Natales, I took a day trip to the National Park and got a glimpse of the beauty there. I got a sense why hikers do the W trek or the O circuit. I got to come back and do these hikes someday.

After Torres Del Paine, I headed to Puerto Varas and then to Pucon before ending up in Santiago. Puerto Varas and Pucon are both scenic towns in the Chilean Lake District. From Puerto Varas, I did a day trip to Fruitillar, a German influenced town. I also went to the island of Chiloe to get a glimpse of the churches the island is famous for. I was not feeling great so kept my exploration to a minimum on the island. It is better to rent a car and go around the island. The island, along with the Australs (which I missed) is on my future Chilean Agenda. Folks go to Pucon to climb the local volcano (as at the top, there is bubling lava). However due to bad weather, no tours were going up so I spent the two days in Pucon eating and drinking. I was introduced to very good steak and excellent wine. Camanere, the local grape variety, is excellent. It was introduced by French monks and now the grape variety grows locally and tastes great.

After Pucon I headed to Santiago. I stayed with my classmate, Sangeetha, who I hadnt seen for almost 15 years (I think). It was good to have spent the time with her and her family. I didnt get much of the backpacker version of Santiago but I did spend sometime in the historic city and a day trip to Valapariso, which I would recommend for a day or two.

After Santiago, I flew to San Pedro (you cant fly there directly but to a nearby town) and spent 4 days there. There is so much to do in San Pedro and San Pedro is one of my favourite places in Chile. I did four trips there: Night Sky Star gazing, El Tatio Geysers, Valle de Luna and the Altaplatinos. I would highly recommend all four trips. There isnt much else to do in the town but I would recommend spending a few days here before heading either to Uyuni or to Salta.

I am heading back later in the year to Chile: Easter Island. Easter Island has intrigued me for a long time and I hope to get a sense of the history and culture when I land there. There are other places in Chile which I would like to explore. Top of the list is the missed Torres Del Paine (W trek or the O circuit).

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