I spent a total of 16 days in Chile and spent an average of $49 per day – although that would be significantly lower if I hadn’t done a ski trip to Valle Nevado (which cost $200 for the day). I enjoyed Santiago much more than I thought I would have. I had heard so many stories about how polluted (true) and boring (not true) the city was, but I easily managed to fill 10 days in the city without getting bored.
Southern hemisphere skiing was another activity that had long been on my bucket list before this trip began. I got the opportunity to do it near Santiago, Chile at Valle Nevado in the Andes. Treated to stunning views of treeless landscapes, I had a very enjoyable – if expensive – day of packed powder thrills.
I rented all of my equipment and booked transportation through Ski Total and was quite happy with the experience. They were punctual and helpful, although returning the equipment at the end of the day was very disorganized.
I spent over a week in Santiago and enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. I had heard from other travelers that the city was terribly boring, crowded, and polluted, but found only the latter to be true. The past ten years – as the country has continued to recover from Pinochet’s regime – has brought a cultural resurgence to the capital city and there is tons to see, do, and eat.
If you go, definitely take advantage of the free walking tours from three companies: Free Tours Santiago, Tours 4 Tips, and Spicy Chile. I took one walking tour with each and they were all informative and enjoyable.
Valparaiso, Chile is one of the most striking places I have ever visited and the street art is among the best I have ever seen. Every corner you turn brings another mural, and the artists don’t see traditional walls as their limits. I’ve honestly never seen anything like it, and even after spending three days walking through the pasajes and trying to see as much as possible, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface.
Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to learn that much about the artists themselves as I didn’t take any kind of tour, but if anybody has any information about the artists who painted the work in the gallery I’d love to hear about it.
Due to a blockade between Copacabana, Bolivia and La Paz, I changed my planned route from going through Puno to Bolivia to going through northern Chile from Arequipa. It turned out to be a very straightforward and actually enjoyable border crossing (at least with a US passport). Northern Chile was not initially on my itinerary, but I’m glad I got to see at least a small slice of the beautiful desert beaches before heading back to the Andes.
The first step was to take a bus from Arequipa down to Tacna. I chose to go with Flores based on some recommendations from other travelers and the modest price of 25 soles, but there are many other companies that run the same route. The full schedule is posted on the left. I had no trouble getting a ticket for the 6:15 bus on a Friday morning about 15 minutes in advance.