“Why is everybody so down on Chile?”, I kept asking Heather. Indeed, during our time in this long, coastal country, we were wowed by beautiful beaches, bustling cities, rumbling volcanoes, delicious wine, friendly people, and (believe it or not) even some good food.
In short, it was so much different (and better) than we had expected.
We spent our time in Chile zig-zagging back and forth to neighboring Argentina, as we made our way to Southern Patagonia. Originally, we hoped to visit the Atacama Desert in the North, following our Salt Flat tour in Bolivia. In the end, though, we only traversed half of Chile’s 5,000 km top-to-bottom length.
Favorite Place: Torres del Paine National Park
Least Favorite Place: Punta Arenas
Favorite Food: The omnipresent ave palta (chicken with avocado) sandwiches
Least Favorite Food: Chilean fried empanadas (if only they could do them like Argentina)
Favorite Alcohol: Pretty much any Sauvignon Blanc from Chile’s Casablanca wine-growing region (between Santiago and Valparaiso)
Least Favorite Alcohol: Terremotos (cheap wine, pineapple ice cream, and fernet or peppermint schnapps)
Favorite Accommodations: Tin House Hostel, Puerto Natales
Least Favorite Accommodations: Nikos II, Puerto Natales (where we ended up after Torres del Paine – Tin House was full!)
Favorite Sight: Sunset over Glacier Grey at Torres del Paine
Biggest Disappointment: Failing to make it to the top of Villarrica Volcano near Pucón
Days in the country: 26
Distance Traveled: 1,218 miles
Cities/Towns Visited: 7 (Santiago, Valparaiso, Viña del Mar, Pucón, Valdivia, Puerto Natales, Punta Arenas)
Long Distance Buses: 6
Night Buses: 1
Local Buses: 9
Ascensores: 2 (hillside elevators in Valparaiso)
Beds slept in: 9
Nights camping in a tent: 4 (Torres del Paine trek)
Ruins: 2 (old Spanish forts)
Hot Springs: 1
Traveler’s stomach incidents: 0
Days on antibiotics: 0
Restaurants: 19 (0.7 times per day, on average)
Pictures Taken: 1,809 (Chile) / 20,447 (Total, trip thus far)
Chile has gained the reputation as being an expensive country. No doubt, restaurants, hostels, and transportation all seem more expensive than elsewhere in Latin America (though many parts of Argentina are just as pricey).
We prepared a lot of our own meals to avoid having to eat out at restaurants, and took advantage of the delicious local wines (which are extremely affordable – $5 will buy an excellent bottle).
Here were our daily expenditures:
Most Expensive Lodging: $47 (Niko’s II – also our least favorite!)
Least Expensive Lodging: $28 (Santiago Backpacker’s)
Most Expensive Meal: $61 (Puerto Viejo in Punta Arenas to try Patagonian Lamb)
Least Expensive Meal: $5 (Pizza from a fast-food food court)