Listening to the waves crash along the rocky shoreline while you wait for the sun to come up behind the X moai (large stone statues) at Tongariki is, some say, the best way to start your day on Easter Island. It’s certainly one of the earliest, as the rest of the island wakes up on a more leisurely schedule. Still, it’s a stunning way to start the day, and if you want to really pack it in, one of several must-see activities that can be packed into a sunrise-to-sunset day on Easter Island that will leave your mind reeling and your memory cards full to capacity.
I was looking to take a winery tour from Santiago, and found a half-day tour to Undurraga a perfect fit for my tight schedule. It is one of the wineries that is closest to Santiago, and still left plenty of time for other activities in the city.
Santiago, Chile, like many Latin American cities, has a few central spots, most of them in the casco histórico, or traditional quarter of the city. In Santiago, that means the roughly the area from La Moneda, the presidential palace, east towards the stock exchange, and stretching towards the Bellas Artes museum. In between are several museums of interest, including the PreColumbian Art Museum, as well as buildings such as the courts, the cathedral, old post office and Plaza de Armas. And while in Santiago, we do spend quite a bit of time in this area, as it also has most of the city’s businesses, sometimes on vacation you’d like to take a peaceful walk someplace not quite so busy. Below are three neighborhoods set up for just that kind of strolling.
Calama, Chile is in the norte grande, as we call the far north of Chile, a land of warm white-sand beaches, a history that dates back to the saltpeter industry in the 1800s, and is now an important mining center in the country. For most tourists, most importantly, it is the jumping-off point for tourism in this part of the country, with a short drive to San Pedro de Atacama, a small desert outpost town with good access to salt lakes to see flamingos, geysers, many rock and sand formations and surprisingly azure lagoons. But that doesn’t mean that you should rush past Calama on your way to see all the natural beauty the desert has to offer. In fact, there are a couple of things in or near Calama that might just keep you here a day or two.
You might not think that Chile would name one of its most iconic drinks after the kind of seismic activity that occasionally threatens life and does damage in this long, skinny country. But that’s exactly what terremoto, earthquake. It’s a combination of young wine and pineapple ice cream and occasionally Fernet or grenadine syrup. Though originally mainly drunk on the 18 of September (the national holiday) and events such as the Cumbre Guachaca (kind of a down-home festival celebrating countryside traditions that have made it into the city), nowadays it’s become more popular than ever to grab a terremoto in Santiago. Below are some places you might try.
The beaches of Chile are varied, from quiet coves to rocky, crashing waves, long left breaks for surfing, horseshoe-shaped lagoons and everything in between. While in much of the country the water is prohibitively cold for all but the most intrepid of swimmers (and children, who seem not to mind the cool temperatures), way up north near the Peruvian border, the icy Humboldt current bypasses the shores, leaving them tepid enough for all but the most sensitive bathers. Arica is a perfect jumping off point for checking out some of the beaches of the north of Chile, with a little something for everyone.