Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Chile: Do's and Don'ts!


With the trip all over, it's time for the obligatory do's and don'ts...first stop: Chile.

Do's

- Take some extra thermals. It gets cold (and if you are there around July/August time, I mean cold) at night and hostels/hotels rarely have heating so unless you want to get yourself in the unfortunate position we found ourselves in, wearing the same thermals for days on end, pack an extra set! (In fact, this is the same for Bolivia too)

- Explore using local transport. Chile has a great bus system and the Santiago metro in particular is fantastic – take advantage of the cheap fares and see where you end up!

- Say hello to the galaxy. The star-filled skies in Chile are incredible, stretching out as far as the eye can see – a trip to one of the observatories is truly a highlight.

- Try out your Spanish. A little goes a long way and is always appreciated! Even if it’s just the token few words that I picked up during our trip.

- Guzzle some wine. Chile is home to many fine wineries, all offering tours and tastings at good prices, so take advantage and find out firsthand what makes the growing region here so good!

Don'ts

- Expect Chile to reflect ‘typical’ (or perhaps I should say stereotypical...!) South America. It’s very westernised, particularly in the bigger cities, and this is reflected in the buildings, transport, shops and interests of many of the locals. Chile has its own charm, but it was only once we headed north that I saw the picture I’d always had in my mind come to life.

- Be put off by the huge hordes of tourists in San Pedro. The jumping off point for the Atacama, San Pedro is absolutely heaving, but walk just 10 or 15 minutes out of town and you find yourself alone, in a beautiful desert landscape littered with archaeological memory.

- Get too upset by the number of stray dogs. From what we saw and heard during our time in South America, the dogs are another part of the community, with locals feeding and often clothing them, and in fact most looked lively and healthy and were extremely friendly.

So there you have it! Chile was a great starting point for our trip, although I would have loved to have been able to head south to Patagonia which is supposedly incredible - perhaps next time...!

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