This was a 10-day journey that started in Santiago, which is a major city in Chile, located about 100km from the Pacific Coast and at the foot of the snow-capped Andes mountains. From the time we set foot out of the coach, we were greeted by the pleasant Mediterranean climate, ski resorts and the Pacific Ocean coastline.
I recently travelled with a few other travel agents to Santiago, Patagonia and Chile, and I am excited to tell you all about it. I travelled with the Travel Project, and their knowledgeable guides really impressed our socks off. All their staff members have previously travelled to all the destinations, which made their knowledge and expertise on this holiday a truly memorable experience.
This was a 10-day journey that started in Santiago, which is a major city in Chile, located about 100km from the Pacific Coast and at the foot of the snow-capped Andes mountains. From the time we set foot out of the coach, we were greeted by the pleasant Mediterranean climate, ski resorts and the Pacific Ocean coastline. The neoclassical architecture in Santiago blew me away with various Spanish and French influences. I just loved the classical look and feel of this city. This city is nothing short on elegance and we were fortunate enough to stay for two nights in a luxury 5-star hotel in the city.
The Hotel Cumbres Lastarria 5* is a beautiful appointed hotel, centrally located in the city and within walking distance to restaurants and cafés. Lastarria was chosen amongst the 37 best Boutique Hotels in the world according to the ‘Best Urban Hotels Awards’ for 2016. And I believe it is the perfect hotel as I felt safe walking around experiencing the local Chile culture and food.
From Santiago we flew to the Great Island of Chiloe which is a 2-hour flight in a smaller aircraft and can only take up to 33 passengers. The Great Island of Chiloe reminded me a lot of New Zealand with its rolling hills and beautiful landscapes. Some people believe this land is magical and I could understand why. This was a very peaceful experience and it almost feels like you have been transported back in time. If you love seafood and wine then pairing of the local fresh fish and Chilean wine is a must do - it is just to die for. We also learned about the history of the grape vines and why it’s so special. The vines originally came from France and shipped over to Chile, these same vines died off from a virus in France and now you can only find the type of vine and grape in Chile called Carmenere - very famous.
I must say the lamb was the pinnacle of my food experience in Chile. It was delicious because of the vast fields of green grass which the sheep can graze on to their heart’s content. We got to stay in this magical place for three nights and experience everything at our own pace.
We had the privilege to stay at the Hotel Tierra Chiloe, which is an all-inclusive experience, where all your activities, drinks and food are included (Half-Board options available). The views from the hotel are spectacular and you can decide if you want to stay in with a glass of wine or let loose your inner explorer. Activities include anything from hiking the beautiful valleys to horseback riding, which I really enjoyed - my horse was called Carménère, like the wine! If you want to explore, but you are not that adventurous, then do not worry it is split into three levels, easy, medium and hard - there is an activity for every type of traveller. There is a little town nearby called Castro where you can visit markets and see the houses on stilts.
From the Great Island we flew 2.5 hours to Punta Arenas, where we spent one night at the Hotel Cabo de Hornos 4*. Punta Arenas is the capital of Magellamic and is known to be the Gateway into Antarctic. The hotel is located in the heart of the city surrounded by large trees, arid landscapes and spectacular views. We couldn’t have asked for more. The hotel itself is cosy with a warm atmosphere and the breakfast was delicious. From Punta Arenas we drove on an overland journey to Tierra Patagonia for about 3 hours with amazing scenery along the way. Make sure you look up at the clouds – the wind blows the clouds around, so they look like white planes flying through the sky.
Leaving the best for last, I cannot describe in words the beauty of Tierra Patagonia. I have included some photos, but this is a place you definitely have to visit for yourself to experience this amazing scenery. Tierra Patagonia is located beside rugged mountains and Lake Sarmiento in Torres del Paine National Park. This vast area is untamed and is ideal if you love nature. Walk down to the beach from the resort and roam around the property where you may spot different animals. I saw a Condor, Guanaco, Deer and a Rhea, which is a type of Emu. I experienced a few activities, but my favourite was just putting my feet up in the spa and looking out to the most beautiful scenery with a glass of bubbles in hand. The mixture of activities range from horseback riding to Glacier tours which takes you on a boat right up to the ice bergs – must see. Tierra Patagonia is named one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World and is the perfect bucket list item. The rooms are big and have beautiful décor – the highlight definitely being the view from the rooms. Wake up with no man-made structures obscuring your view and relax in this pristine environment.
It was sad to leave Tierra Patagonia, however leaving for Santiago we had one last hurrah with a flight over Antarctica where we could see the ice – it was absolutely breathtaking. Then we had one more night in Santiago before we flew back to Melbourne.
I recommend this journey to all adventure seekers who love to experience new destinations and also enjoy learning about new cultures.