Santiago in Chile offers one of the most diverse landscapes on the entire planet; within a maximum of an hour and half you can venture from lounging on its tranquil, pacific coastline to shredding through the snow in one of its many alpine resorts. Santiago truly is a city that delivers a mixed experience for any type of traveller. Read on for my 48 hours in this astonishing city…
“On approach to landing at Santiago de Compostela Airport we were instructed to sit down for 40 minutes, we had to fly over the mountain ranges of The Andes. As I gazed out of the cabin windows, the sun rose over the peaks of the mountains decorating the vast scenery with a mesmerizing, pink glow. I knew at this point Santiago would be truly unique adventure from the dozens of incredible destinations that I’ve been blessed to visit…
Upon landing, settling into our hotel and finding my bearings, I knew that with my limited time in Santiago I couldn’t afford to waste a single minute. I packed my essentials and planned my two-day hiking itinerary through Parque Nacional La Campana and Cerro San Cristobal.
Day one’s plan was to explore the second highest peak in Santiago, Cerro San Cristobal. To my astonishment, the national park was easily accessible and affordable using the city’s metro network (free WIFI was an additional bonus). Once we arrived at the national park, stood at the foot of the towering hill we were given two options; pay approximately £1.50 to ride a tram or embrace the adventurer within myself and hike up the steep hill. We chose the latter and hiked up Cerro San Cristobal for roughly an hour.
As exhausting as the hike may have been, the walk was an experience of its own. The spectacular, panoramic views circling around me left me short for breath in pure ecstasy and wonder. At the peak of my hike stood the statue of the Virgin Mary with open arms gazing down on the city (a distinct resemblance to Christ De Redeemer in Rio De Janeiro). The atmosphere was complimented by local artists performing softly in the background.
Once I had filled my boots with photo opportunities and refreshed using the facilities, it was time to venture back to earth. Again, I faced the same two options as earlier, this time my tiring feet persuaded me to part ways with the equivalent of £1.50 and comfortably ride the tram down the mountainside. As my tram rolled down the hillside, I noticed brave (or mad, you decide) locals running down the hill at full speed – personally I prefer to keep my limbs intact, therefore remained in the tram!
Hidden gem – At entrance to the national park there is an area called Barrio Bellavista, It’s known as the bohemian quarter of Santiago cluttered with quirky cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs. All the buildings are spectacularly decorated with a rich display of vibrant colours and art.
On our second day, we decided to hire a car and get out of Santiago city. We travelled for approximately two hours to a national park called Parque Nacional La Campana (a slight mouthful, I know).
Once we veered off the highway, the roads meandering around the mountains opened the most outstanding scenery the Andes in the distance. We spotted a parking bay roadside, pulled over and stood taking in awe of Mother Nature revealing herself in full glory.
Entry into called Parque Nacional La Campana (approximately £5.00) was worth every penny! There’s a bounty of trails to hike depending on your level of fitness. We wondered through the emerald forest immersed in the flourishing, natural beauty for what seemed seconds, but what was in fact an hour or so before we discovered to an open area. The open area revealed the luscious, green mountains which were home to a minefield of cacti!
On our route back to Santiago we decided the trip wouldn’t be complete without a detour to Casablanca, Chile’s wine region. There’s plenty of vineyards that you can visit, partake in wine tasting and purchase locally produced wine. We chose the vineyard called Loma Lorga Vineyards.
To experience the best wine tasting session, I’d advise doing this as early in the day as possible (or at least make a reservation), as all venues conclude their final wine tasting session of the day at 4pm during the winter season.
Seasonal Tip– During the winter evenings temperatures approach sub-zero and reach a comfortable temperature during the day. Visiting in August, I experienced frost in the mornings and temperatures of 21 degrees during the day. Obviously, the higher altitude that you reach the cooler it gets. Layers are essential for this diverse micro-climate!
Chile has truly earned itself as one of the most diverse, natural wonderlands that I have ever visited. I’ll be returning in the near future to shred some powder on The Andes!”
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