Chile Travel Guide

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Foreign Grocery Friday: The Calafate Berries of Patagonia

December 13, 2013 at 10:27 AM | by | Comments (0)

When we travel, one of our favorite things to do is to pop into a local grocery store and check out the food products and candies we'd never find anywhere else. So we're trying out this new feature, Foreign Grocery Friday, where each week we'll feature some of our (and your) favorite overseas treats. Got a recommendation? Let us know!

Entire landscapes of Patagonia are ripe for the picking right now, awash in the bright indigo dots of juicy Calafate berries (English name: Magellan Barberry). So symbolic are these of Patagonia that an entire city in southern Argentina is named for them (El Calafate) and a local legend holds that any visitor who eats a berry will be sure to return to the region. Past years have seen small harvests due to lack of rain, but this year the getting looks good.

We mainly sampled them around Puerto Natales and the Torres del Paine National Park area in Chilean Patagonia, and our Quasar Expeditions guides were able to point out the bushes nearly everywhere we ventured over 5 days in the area (of course don't eat any berries you aren't sure of).

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What Not to Do in Patagonia: The Top Five Tourist Mistakes

December 11, 2013 at 11:24 AM | by | Comments (0)

Go south, way south, to Chilean Patagonia. As home to snow-capped mountains, dramatic fjords, extreme weather, exotic flora and fauna, and the world's second largest ice field, it's no wonder this region ranks high on traveler's bucketlists. We've just crossed it off our own, and all week we'll be sharing our top tips to making this dream destination a reality vacation.

So while we definitely recommend making your stay longer than five days to even begin to scratch the surface, at least these do-not-dos will help no matter the trip length.

So without further ado, here is the Jaunted guide of What Not To Do In Patagonia: The Top 5 Tourist Mistakes.

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In Search of Perfect Weather: When to Travel to Chilean Patagonia

December 3, 2013 at 6:03 PM | by | Comments (0)

Go south, way south, to Chilean Patagonia. As home to snow-capped mountains, dramatic fjords, extreme weather, exotic flora and fauna, and the world's second largest ice field, it's no wonder this region ranks high on traveler's bucketlists. We've just crossed it off our own, and all week we'll be sharing our top tips to making this dream destination a reality vacation.

Thinking of taking the leap and the long flights necessary to visit Patagonia? Excellent idea, but you should know that it is a destination with weather mood swings.

Patagonia—here we highlight Punta Arenas and the Torres del Paine National Park area—sits way down in the Southern Hemisphere, so the summer and winter are the complete opposite of what New York and Europe experience, for example. This is a huge plus, because when NY or London are being battered with below-freezing temps and blustery winds, you can escape down to Patagonia for sunny horseback rides, breezy hikes, and photographing the dramatic landscape under starkly white lenticular clouds.

To make sure you book that dream trip and have the best possible time, we've got some recommendations for when.

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Travel Contest Alert: Knock the Atacama Desert Off Your Bucket List with LAN

Where: Chile
November 27, 2013 at 1:44 PM | by | Comments (0)

This could be you, standing at the edge of a calm salt lake in the world's driest region: Chile's Atacama Desert. Or perhaps you prefer wine tasting in the vineyards outside Santiago? Or what about glaciers a stone's throw from Antarctica, in Chilean Patagonia?

Whatever sounds best, it can be yours for free, as LAN has just opened up a massive contest to begin their "Only in South America" campaign. The idea: to show exactly what makes the entire South American continent worth occupying a spot at the top of your bucket list. Naturally they're beginning on home turf, by giving away a luxury once-in-a-lifetime adventure around Chile.

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The Churches of Chiloé Island: A UNESCO Site Worth the Trek

November 11, 2013 at 2:21 PM | by | Comments (0)

Chile’s Chiloé Island is no quick weekend getaway (unless you happen to live in Santiago), but its remote beauty is worth the trek halfway down the world. Until a year ago, the island was only reachable by boat, but in 2012 Chiloé welcomed an airport. The tiny but beautiful red terminal serves only one flight at a time, either to or from Santiago and only on LAN.

To set foot in Chiloé, you'll need to fly into Santiago and, there, transfer to a flight to Castro, Chiloé’s capital. The flight first stops in Puerto Montt, where once travelers picked up the ferry, before the flight continues on for about twenty more minutes to arrive in Chiloé. (This leg is so short that you won’t be able to go to the bathroom or turn your Kindle back on.)

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How to Pack for a Trip to the Chilean Heritage Island of Chiloé

November 8, 2013 at 1:40 PM | by | Comments (0)


The famous stilt neighborhoods of Chiloe

One of the most beautiful things about Chile is the way the climate can vacillate from one extreme to a different extreme with just a change of region. While the Atacama Desert is predictably arid and Patagonia often buffeted by whipping winds, the island of Chiloé is known for gray skies and rainfall that wouldn’t be out of place in London. (After all, half the island is a rainforest.)

Since rain is a common occurrence in Chiloé—and it often shows up at unexpected times, even when it’s been sunny all morning—be sure to keep a lightweight raincoat and hat around. If you’re planning to spend a lot of time outdoors, rain boots are also a good bet.

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A Route to the End of the World: How to Travel to Chilean Patagonia

October 30, 2013 at 12:06 PM | by | Comments (0)

Go south, way south, to Chilean Patagonia. As home to snow-capped mountains, dramatic fjords, extreme weather, exotic flora and fauna, and the world's second largest ice field, it's no wonder this region ranks high on traveler's bucketlists. We've just crossed it off our own, and all week we'll be sharing our top tips to making this dream destination a reality vacation.

It is impossible to take a bad photo in Patagonia. In fact, the scenery begins the moment your flight sets off from Santiago Airport, with a course due south to Punta Arenas, as it passes over the Andes mountains and the lake district around Puerto Montt en route to the southernmost city on the South American mainland and the gateway to Chilean Patagonia.

Crossing the lines of latitude may be invisible events, but events nonetheless; every few minutes of flight means progressing where once only the most intrepid explorers dared venture. In fact, the name of Punta Arenas was once "Magallanes," after Ferdinand Magellan, first to circumnavigate the Earth and first to sail from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific, via the Strait still named for him.

Approach to Punta Arenas Airport (code: PUQ, full name: Aeropuerto Internacional Presidente Carlos Ibáñez) happens over the white caps of the Strait of Magellan. Keep a look out for rainbows, as they'll be the first of many magical sights to come in Patagonia.

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Foreign Grocery Friday: The 'Rica-Rica' Herb of the Atacama Desert

October 25, 2013 at 2:02 PM | by | Comments (0)

When we travel, one of our favorite things to do is to pop into a local grocery store and check out the food products and candies we'd never find anywhere else. So we're trying out this new feature, Foreign Grocery Friday, where each week we'll feature some of our (and your) favorite overseas treats. Got a recommendation? Let us know!

What looks like an inconsequential bush in the Atacama Desert is actually a medicinal plant you'll first smell, then taste, then fall in love with and imagine importing.

Rica Rica, which essentially translates to "yummy yummy," is a strongly aromatic local medicinal herb used to add Atacamenian flavor to everything from fish dishes to the traditional Pisco Sour cocktail (pictured below). The Puri Spa at the Hotel Alto Atacama even offers a Rica Rica massage, and homemade rica rica ice cream is a mainstay on their daily menu.

The shrub's tiny purple flowers bloom in October, which means we were in town just in time to enjoy both its flavor and beauty.

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The Seven Sites You've Just Gotta See in Chile's Atacama Desert

October 24, 2013 at 4:07 PM | by | Comments (0)

The Atacama Desert of northern Chile is the driest place in the world with some of the craziest scenery. It's no wonder it often features high on traveler's bucketlists. We've just crossed it off our own, and all week we'll be sharing our top tips to making this dream destination a reality vacation.

Now that we've explained how best to reach northern Chile's Atacama Desert and even how to pack, it's high time to venture out and explore the dramatic landscape.

All of these sights we hit as part of excursions from our hotel, the Alto Atacama, just outside the town of San Pedro de Atacama. Driving to them independently is possible, and we even witnessed some intrepid travelers in reinforced vans setting up camp in their cars at particularly scenic overlooks, but many of the area's hotels specialize in expert-led tours of which you should absolutely take advantage. Getting lost out there may be fun for two minutes, but this is one instance where it's best to keep to the beaten paths.

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Tired of the Typical Happy Hour? Try Out the Chilean Tradition of 'Once'

Where: Chile
October 24, 2013 at 12:32 PM | by | Comments (0)

Although Argentina often gets called the most European country in South America, its next door neighbor Chile does have some strong influences left over from the colonial days. One of the most surprising is "Once," a Chilean late-in-the-day snack or small meal that almost always involves tea.

There are two different theories about how Once got its name. The first is that Once (pronounced “oan-say”) is Spanish for “eleven,” and the tradition comes out of the British habit of Elevenses. However, the Chilean version is served later in the day – most people in Chile eat their largest meal at lunchtime and then eat a lighter meal later that night.

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Beyond SPF: What to Pack for a Trip to the Atacama Desert

October 23, 2013 at 5:24 PM | by | Comments (0)

The Atacama Desert of northern Chile is the driest place in the world with some of the craziest scenery. It's no wonder it often features high on traveler's bucketlists. We've just crossed it off our own, and all week we'll be sharing our top tips to making this dream destination a reality vacation.

What the Atacama harms with its harsh environment, it makes up for with stark beauty. Thus, venturing into the Atacama Desert is no road trip to Joshua Tree and a little forethought will go a long way.

Now let's get packing...

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Mars on Earth: How to Travel to Chile's Atacama Desert

Where: Calama, Chile
October 22, 2013 at 2:27 PM | by | Comments (0)

The Atacama Desert of northern Chile is the driest place in the world with some of the craziest scenery. It's no wonder it often features high on traveler's bucketlists. We've just crossed it off our own, and all week we'll be sharing our top tips to making this dream destination a reality vacation.

Listen for the whirr as the landing gear of the LAN Airlines A320 descends. In a few minutes more, you'll be on the ground that now, at a few thousand feet, looks like a stretch of rusty orange nothingness. From that nothingness appears a runway, and a few bumps later you've entered the oldest desert on Earth.

Although the Atacama's arid expanse seems peaceful, it's actually only a thin veil disguising the truth of the region—that its volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, salt lakes, towering sand dunes and whipping winds mean the very ground underneath your feet is extremely alive and active. It's often said that the terrain resembles the surface of Mars more than anything you'd expect to find here on Earth and, in fact, NASA maintains testing sites here.

As you can imagine, reaching such an extreme place requires some equally extreme travel, but it can be done. Pack moisturizer and come along...

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