Read more about the article El Calafate – Argentina
El Calafate - Argentina

El Calafate – Argentina

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Patagonia, land of glaciers and mountains

Leaving behind the civilization and big cities such as Buenos Aires and Cordoba for something of spectacular nature in this world: glaciers, mountains and landscapes of surreal pristine beauty. El Calafate itself being the major gateway into the countless natural parks, some of which in Chile’s soil yet accessible from Argentina’s side. Although not a city, but a small town, it contains all the facilities to handle the ever growing number of tourists seeking another of the fascinating sides Argentina has to offer.

Be prepared to not only enjoy the natural landscape, but also the flora and fauna which is beautiful. From the Patagonian desert of infinite emptiness, only interrupted by serpentine rivers, to the Magellanic subpolar forests. easy to spot are guanacos (similar to a llama), cougars (puma concolor) which is the second heaviest cat after the jaguar in the Americas; grey foxes, rheas (similar to an ostrich, also known as ñandúes), condors or eagles to name a few. You could simply spend weeks in the area, and every day visiting a different place, but distance of course, are large, and time spend travelling around dramatically increased because there are no motorways nor dual carriage roads. In some place and for many kilometres, the path is unpaved, not the best when in rainy or snowy conditions.

A trip to Argentina in my own opinion, is not complete unless you plan well your route to include this place. While there is something I would not recommend at all, coming here overland and spend unnecessary very long time, even days on a bus with actually not much to see out there from the window other than the emptiness; I would for sure not hesitate in taking a flight. The good news is that from most of the main cities in the country you can fly here directly, and at great fares! Would you even consider 40 hours on a bus from Buenos Aires to take an example, against 3 by plane? (more…)

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Read more about the article Easter Island – Chile
Easter Island - Chile

Easter Island – Chile

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The Most Isolated Island on Earth

Travelling to the most remote place I’ve ever been to from all the 70 countries I’ve visited so far up to date (April 2015), the decision of travelling to Easter Island was not even optional after booking the tickets to Santiago. We for sure knew that getting here was going to be in fact the main purpose of the whole trip altogether. After all, we made the 17 hours flight it takes from London to Santiago (via Madrid), so another 5.5 hours extra was not going to be much difficult. And to our great surprise only to find out that we would be flying Business Class with LAN as they overbooked the flight. Well, one of the “added” benefits of being a Silver/Sapphire member with the One World Alliance, free upgrades when overbooked.

Easter Island; also known by its Polynesian name of Rapa Nui is one of the most remote islands on earth at almost 4000 kilometers away from the nearest mainland, Chile, where its jurisdiction belongs to. Mataveri Airport officially hold the title of the most remote of any international airports in the planet.

Now something that you need to bear in mind and consider before planning a trip here are the costs. It is highly likely that your main international and/or intercontinental flight to Santiago will be cheaper than the “internal” flight between Santiago and Rapa Nui. The only explanation, apart from the distance of course, is lucrative reasons. Being the only daily flight and LAN Chile the only airline in the route then they can set the prices as high as they consider. Do not expect to find any deal ever here unfortunately but in any case, don’t even think twice and specially if you are coming from far away as us from the U.K. If you ask me now, was it really worth it? My answer is 100% yes.


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Read more about the article Valparaiso – Chile
Valparaiso - Chile

Valparaiso – Chile

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The Jewel of the Pacific

Getting to our second destination in Chile, although just as a day trip from Santiago, we visited what is many people describes as the most beautiful and picturesque city in the country. The 3rd largest city and most important port in the country and the whole of the South Pacific. It is also home to an incredible collection of beautiful colourful Victorian houses perched on the many hills of the city and overlooking the South Pacific Ocean, linked with the lower parts of the city by its unique network of old funicular lifts. All of this contributed for the city to be listed an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On the last point, the funiculars, is what gets the city special attention and gives that extra charm. Although originally there were over 26 in operation, today the number is reduced to “just” 8 where unfortunately, there is still much work that should be done in order to ensure their operation for future generations. It’s an unique industrial heritage only found in Valparaiso in such an extent. I can only think of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (U.S.) where a similar yet more reduced network was constructed dating to the same age as Valparaiso’s one.

The city grew and thrived ever since Chile’s independence from Spain right until the opening of the Panama Canal, with its port becoming the largest and most important for all ships en-route from the Pacific to the Atlantic across the Magellan Straights. From 1912 the city experienced a steep decline, coupled with natural disasters as earthquakes, but recovered and continues to grow and thrive in all senses, to the point of being officially named Chile’s Cultural City.


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Read more about the article Los Andes and Portillo – Chile
Los Andes and Portillo - Chile

Los Andes and Portillo – Chile

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Where Chile and Argentina meet

Our next experience while in Chile brought us to visit the Andes, and this time, not from the distance but from the top in the middle of them! The highest point we went was at 3820 meters, right at the place where you can be at both Chile and Argentina soils; and what a better place to mark this than the Christ the Redeemer of the Andes. Specifically built to commemorate the 1904 peace resolution between the border dispute of both countries.

This is also the only direct road route between both countries across the Andes from Santiago in Chile towards the Mendoza region in Argentina. The first small city you will pass by is Los Andes. Nothing special about it, but it’s here from where the road split on direction towards Portillo. In this section you will start to get great views of the mountains and nature, following the parallel route of the now disused railway line that once connected Santiago and Mendoza.

Right before you reach Portillo comes the famous 32 curves ascending road. Quite a sight on its own, but slowly, you will be climbing up and up in two sets. Once you are after the last curve, you are already in Portillo where the main sky resorts are located. By the time of the year we travelled here (April) these were still closed, but was for matter of few more days until the first snow would come. I would refrain by all means from doing this route during winter time. First of all because how dangerous the road can be, and second, because there will be almost no visibility, and this place is really to be seen  as clear as possible in order to admire the incredible beauty and grandness. We’ve been very lucky to have such a sunny and clear day. (more…)

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Read more about the article Santiago – Chile
Santiago de Chile - Chile

Santiago – Chile

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Santiago del Nuevo Extremo

Just 9 days after returning from out last longer trip in Israel, and only 4 that were spending the weekend in Helsinki; here we were again but this time for a longer period, flying into one of our farthest destinations ever, Chile. Santiago, the capital, would only be the gateway and main base to a much complete program ahead of us for the next 10 days, being the highlight of the trip (and probably of any trip so far to date) reaching the farthest possible place from the nearest mainland, at almost 4000 kilometers well into the Pacific Ocean: Easter Island.

Quite an adventure and great excitement returning to South America where, let’s be honest. It feels to me like going “back” home as Spanish that I am plus I love being able to use my mother tongue in a foreign country. Chileans to our great surprise, are very friendly and welcoming people, yet for some reason, half of my friends and family who have been there before disagree on this. Never mind, I can talk from my own experience, I loved it and I cannot wait to come back hopefully soon! There is way too much more to see, north and south. From the most arid desert on earth, Atacama, to the glaciers and landscapes of Patagonia.

Santiago is a very modern city, one of the largest in South America. And if you excuse me here, one of the wealthiest. Chile is one of the richest countries in Latin America with one of the highest per-capita income. No surprise why many people is choosing to migrate over there including friends of mine, since for example the work situation in Spain (as of April 2015) is not the best after the big crisis.


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