Santiago, Chile, is uniquely located between the mountains and the ocean and, as such, has access to several important wine-making valleys, including Colchagua, Santa Cruz, Alto Maipo, the Central and Aconcagua valleys. And while Chile is perhaps best known for its red wines, particularly the “rediscovered” variety of Carmenere — which represented an unknown reserve for the French grape after it was decimated by Phylloxera in France — it is also becoming more popular for white wines, particularly Sauvignon blanc as it is grown at lower altitudes and even toward the coast.
Perhaps one of the most surreal experiences when visiting Chile’s Easter Island is taking a trip to Rano Raraku Quarry – the “birth place” of many of the island’s “Moai,” the famous monolithic human figures built by natives between 1250 and 1500 CE. At the quarry, they were carved out of the volcanic tuff (compacted volcanic ash) and then transported around the island. Many theories exist about how the Moai were moved into position, but regardless of which you support, it is an impressive feat of engineering to think that they all started on the lower slopes of an extinct volcano, and were transported to their resting places in the various sites around the island. Here are some of the best things to explore at the quarry:
Santiago is now known for its upscale hotels, restaurants and famous wine bars, serving some of the country’s finest wines by the taste, glass or bottle, paired with local cheeses, meats and other delicacies. And that’s a great way to get to know Chile, and a fine first step after landing from wherever you came from. But if you really want to dig deeper, go back in time and place and get to know a different Chile, the down home version, get some local color and flavor, there’s nothing like losing yourself a bit in some of the more homegrown nightlife, such as three options listed below.
When visiting Santiago, most visitors find themselves staying in either Providencia, the well-connected upper middle class neighborhood with much of the city’s nightlife, as well as very good lodging options, or Las Condes, which is slightly further east, slightly wealthier, and a bit more upper crust. Both are good options, with hotels at a variety of price points, easy access in and out, and many restaurants to choose from. From there, most visitors will venture down to Santiago centro, as well as Bellavista. But what of the other nearby neighborhoods in Santiago, that have a bit more of a locals-only vibe, even while being easy to get to, and quite traveler-friendly? Here are three neighborhood worth exploring to see a slightly different side of Santiago, with areas for strolling, museums and parks to check out, and shopping for an unusual keepsake to take back home.
Hanga Roa, Easter Island’s diminutive main town, is pretty much the center of operations for everyone who stays on the island, unless you decide to stay in one of the few upscale hotels that are far from the town, such as the all-inclusive Explora, Hare Noi or Altiplano hotels. Even those who stay at these hotels are likely to come into town for at least a few hours, for beach access, to go diving, or to do some souvenir shopping before leaving the island. Here are some tips for getting around the town, which is on a small hill that slopes away from the ocean.
Valparaíso, Chile’s UNESCO-awarded heritage city on the coast, has been called the “Pearl of the Pacific,” and also “Little San Francisco.” But this port city, which dates back hundreds of years, spreads up from the downtown grid up a series of colorful hillsides that make it quite unlike any city you’ve ever seen. You’ll want to spend a day wandering through the streets, taking in the murals and unlikely houses perched on hillsides, either on a day trip or longer from Santiago, and definitely take in some of the best views of Valparaíso, which are out over the Valparaíso bay.