Lima, Peru: Chile Trip Planning [Days 36 – 39]

Day 36 | Monday, November 28, 2016

 I am entering another trip planning phase. This time it is to plan our move from Peru to Chile. Our first country change since arriving in South America. This is a sad (as I have really come to enjoy Peru), nerve-racking, and exciting prospect.

We have learned a few things since we took off for Peru on October 22, 2016 and how this trip is really going to work has definitely taken shape for us. The reality that we have to spend most of our time closely located to one of Steve’s company’s offices has changed how we thought we would be traveling throughout each country. We had originally thought that every week we would move to a new city or area of a country getting to experience the vast differences throughout each country and getting to travel mostly by bus or train. With there sometimes only being 1 office in a country, as there is in Peru, it ends up giving us a central hub that we stay in during the week and then we have to either use weekends or vacation time to go out and explore other cities or areas of the country. With limited time tables to explore in we have had to change to traveling more often by plane so that we aren’t eating up huge amounts of time traveling by bus or train (some times as much as 21+ hours depending on your destination). We have also learned that it is very helpful to have your ticket to the next country purchased before entering a country. It is funny because the immigration personnel couldn’t care any less if you have onward travel booked but when you go to check in for your flight the airline personnel really care if you have onward travel booked and will not allow you to board the plane without knowing how you plan on leaving the country.

While we are in Chile our hub city will be Santiago. We would like to see at least a few of the following areas: Patagonia region, Easter Island, Pucón, Chiloé Island, Valparaíso, and Atacama Desert. Lets talk about the highlights of each of these destinations. 

Patagonia region – Located in the southern part of Chile it is marked by varied geography which results in a wide variety of landscapes, climates, cultures, and ecosystems. This is an area that invites nature lovers from all over the world to come and explore its mountains, fjords, canals, and islands. One of the most widely known attractions in the area is the Torres del Paine National Park which covers an area of about 598.6 million acres.

Easter Island – A small island (63.2 square miles) located in the southeastern Pacific Ocean that is a special territory of Chile. Easter Island is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world and is most famous for its monumental statues, called moai.

Pucón – The city is located on the eastern shore of Lake Villarrica and is known as the “capital of adventure tourism”. Nearby you will find volcanoes, lakes, national parks, waterfalls, and hot springs. Popular activities include hiking, rafting, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, bird watching, and fishing. There is a strong German influence in the town.

Chiloé Island – A large island (3,241 square miles) in southern Chile. Marine life abounds here including blue whales, sei whales, Chilean dolphins, Peale’s dolphins, sea lions, marine otters, Magellanic penguins, and Humboldt penguins. There are unique colorful houses built on stilts above the water and 16 colorful wooden churches built in the 17th century that have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites to see.

Valparaíso – Once one of the richest cities in the world and the first commercial port in Chile. It sat on the primary trading route for ships heading around the southern tip of South America bound either for the west coast of the United States or for eastern Asia. After the Panama Canal’s construction, it experienced an extreme slump and much of the city fell into disrepair. A city marked with bohemian flair, colorful buildings, and crazy architecture. You can stroll along its narrow streets, climb its endless staircases, ride its historic funicular elevators and enjoy panoramic views from its many lofty lookout points. It is home to Chile’s legislative Congress and the headquarters of the Chilean navy.

 Atacama Desert – Is the driest non-polar desert in the world. It is 41,000 square miles and is mostly composed of stony terrain, salt lakes, sand, and felsic lava. It is situated between the Andes and the Chilean Coast Range preventing it from getting moisture from either the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans. The highlights of the region are vast salt flats, active geysers, and intense blue lagoons. There are also many astronomical observatories from which you can enjoy gazing at the endless amounts of stars twinkling across the sky.

Let the TripAdvising, Booking, Airbnbing and Googling commence.

Day 37 |  Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fun fact for the day: Chile is almost as long and the United States is wide. Chile is approximately 2,653 miles long and the United States is roughly 2,800 miles wide.

TripAdvising, Booking, Airbnbing and Googling

Day 38 |  Wednesday, November 30, 2016

TripAdvising, Booking, Airbnbing and Googling

Day 39 |  Thursday, December 1, 2016

After 4 straight days of TripAdvising, Booking, Airbnbing and Googling I have a pretty solid itinerary for Chile. Here is the course I think we will take:

Saturday, December 10 at 8:25am we will fly from Lima, Peru to Santiago, Chile.  In just 3 hours and 35 minutes we will be in our second country on our South American adventure. Santiago, Chile is 2 hours ahead of Lima, Peru time so we will land at just after 2:00pm and be 5 hours ahead of the folks back home. This will give us part of Saturday and all of Sunday to settle in a little before Monday rolls around. Monday through Friday will be spent getting acquainted with Santiago and our new neighborhood, working, and polishing plans for how we want to spend our time in Chile.

We will catch a bus from Santiago to Valparaíso Saturday, December 17 and spend our first weekend in Chile in the coastal town. Monday, December 19 we will catch a bus back to Santiago and spend the week there. Saturday, December 24 at 11:05am we will fly from Santiago, Chile to Puerto Natales, Chile (in the Patagonia Region) where we will spend 4 days and then we will take a bus to Punto Arenas where we will spend 5 days. This should give us plenty of time to explore the Patagonia region and give us a nice little Christmas escape from Santiago. Monday, January 2 at 2:40pm we will catch a plane back to Santiago from Puerto Natales. We will spend the week of January 2 – 7 in Santiago. We haven’t booked arrangements yet but we would like to spend Saturday, January 7 – Tuesday, January 10 in Pucón. If this happens we will take a flight from Santiago to Temuco on Saturday, January 7 and then catch a bus from Temuco to Pucón. We will retrace out bus route and flight back to Santiago on Tuesday, January 10 and spend January 10 – 14 in Santiago and that will conclude our stay in Chile. Saturday, January 14 we will board a plane for Buenos Aires, Argentina (our 3rd country in South America).

These are going to be short and fast trips except for the one to the Patagonia region but again Steve is worried about internet speeds and reliability for work so we don’t want to be away from the Santiago office too long. 

Here is what we would like to accomplish in each location:

Patagonia region – Take it easy the first day and settle in, prepare for Christmas the next day and the fact that many businesses will be closed or operate on abbreviated schedules. Tour Torres del Paine National Park (highlighting Milodón cave, Laguna Amarga, Norsdenskjold and Pehoé lakes, Salto Grande, Gray Lake, and Grey Glacier), See Balmaceda and Serrano glaciers, visit Reserva Nacional Magallanes, see some penguins, visit Muelle Historico (pier), visit the Historical Museum and maybe take a cooking class. 

Easter Island – Steve nixed Easter Island when I told him the airfare alone was going to be $1,000 for both of us. Maybe some day. It is going to take some planning and saving.

Pucón – Hike Villarrica Volcano, Paraglide over Pucón, perhaps whitewater raft Río Trancura bajo, visit Huerquehue National Park, and check out some impressive waterfalls. We haven’t for sure booked lodging in Pucón because we are still working out the transportation piece. The cheapest airline to fly on in Chile is Sky Airlines however we cannot seem to book tickets online and have to go into one of their offices because we are using a foreign credit card. From reading online this is a common issue. 

Chiloé Island – I haven’t done much research on Chiloé yet as we are not sure if we are going to squeeze it into the schedule or not. We have it on good authority though that it is a cool place to check out.

Valparaíso – Visit La Sebastiana Museo de Pablo NerudaMuseo Maritimo NacionalPalacio Baburizza (Fine Arts Museum)Museo de Historia Natural de ValparaisoVilla Victoria and take a free walking tour which will include a funicular and trolley ride, see some of the best street art, explore the port to the hills of Cerro Alegre and Concepcion, and classic sites like Plaza Sotomayor.

Atacama Desert – This one got nixed for two reasons. First, it is one of the driest places on earth not something Steve is interested in. Second, it is at a pretty high elevation and we don’t have any more altitude sickness medication and we didn’t want to take a chance.

I am just about completely bonkers. My perfectionist personality doesn’t help any. I am glad I can put a lid on planning for now. I feel like I have a good start and can pick up in a couple of weeks and put the finishing touches on our plans. I have a huge appreciate for travel agents that are very knowledgable and good that their jobs.

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