So Many Reasons To Explore Chile
We were delighted we found so many reasons to explore Chile when we made several stops on our cruise around South America with Oceania Cruises. In fact, this part of South America was our favourite segment of the cruise. When we went back to Chile to start and finish our cruise to Antarctica, we discovered a whole new part of this county. We saw enough to know we will head back for much more exploration.
Chile is the long, narrow country stretching along the southwest edge of South America. It hosts a wide variety of outdoor nature sites, plant and animal life. The Inca and native Mapuche people occupied Chile before the country became a Spanish colony. In 1810 the country gained independence from Spain. But the country still demonstrates this varied cultural past.
We loved all the amazing outdoor adventures we found. On our day trips we enjoyed learning more about the history of Chile. And we found some great Chilean wines and tasty food. Small towns and larger cities each brought their own charm. We sure found many reasons to explore Chile.
Explore The Chilean Fjords In Patagonia
We started our exploration of the Patagonia area of South America from Ushuaia in southernmost Argentina. A day trip to the Tierra Del Fuego National Park from “Fin del Mundo” (the end of the world) gave us our first glimpse of the amazing outdoors found in the Patagonia region bordering Chile.
From Ushuaia we cruised through the Chilean Fjords in Patagonia Chile. The views in all directions as we moved along the narrow and deep channels were stunning.
Spending time on the water gave us unparalleled views of the waterways and scenery in the Patagonia region. These views were one of the many reasons to explore Chile from the water.
Get Close To The Penguins
We saw penguins in the wild on our travels around the world. The Jackass penguin colony at Boulder outside of Cape Town in South Africa was our first encounter with penguin antics. When we visited Bluff Cove Lagoon for penguins in Stanley in the Falkland Islands we were entertained by both Gentoo and King penguins. And of course we found more penguins when we cruised to Antarctica. But we could never get enough of seeing penguins in the wild!
Punta Arenas in Chile was a great base to use for a day trip to Magdalena Island for Magellanic penguins. We were amazed at the size of the penguins colony that ran wild on the island. And we never tired of the amusing penguins.
We always loved the chance to see local wildlife and this was a great one of the reasons to explore Chile. And penguins were always a treat. But if we wanted more wildlife reasons to visit we could look for pelicans, sea lions and migratory whales.
See A Volcano From Every Angle
With over 500 volcanoes in Chile, there were many great volcano sites to visit. And two of the volcanoes are the most active in Latin America (Villarica and Llaima). So we did not pass on the chance to see a volcano up close.
When we visited the small town of Puerto Montt we got our first view of the Osorno Volcano on the skyline. Our day trip took us to many spots for different views of the Osorno volcano. We even enjoyed a hike in the Parque Nacional Vicente Perez Rosales and saw the Osorno Volcano above the Petrohue Waterfalls.
But we were most excited when we took a ski lift high onto the Osorno Volcano. As we climbed higher we got amazing views out over the landscape. And watched the clouds swirl above the volcano summit.
We loved to travel to volcanic sites around the world. So volcanos were definitely one of the reasons to explore Chile over and over again.
Explore The History And Traditions In Chile
The Spanish history was evident as we travelled in Chile. When we toured in the south of Spain, we enjoyed our first Andalusian horse show in Cordoba. So we took the opportunity to visit the Puro Caballo Equestrian Centre on a visit to Casablanca in Chile for a local horse show. We were intrigued with a flamenco dancer, dramatic costumes and an amazing demonstration of horsemanship.
If our horse show demonstrated the Spanish past of Chile, our visit to the petroglyphs at the Enchanted Valley National Historic Monument gave us another perspective. The vast open-air museum provided a view of the Molle indigenous culture from this area. But we ignored the guide who tried to convince us that some of the petroglyphs showed an extra-terrestrial past!
Learning about the history was certainly one of the reasons to explore Chile.
Great Wine Tasting Was One Of The Reasons To Explore Chile
We did wine tasting on trips in many countries. Before our visit to Chile, we really had no experience with Chilean wines. But on two different wine tours we learned a lot and found several new wine varietals to love.
Our wine experiences started at the Casa Del Bosque Winery with a walk through the vineyard. We saw the vast production facilities and wine cellar. Our tour finished with 3 wine tastings. And we were introduced to Carmanere wine.
Our second winery was very different. The Tabali Winery was deep in the dry lands of the Enchanted Valley and much of the production facility was outdoors. We enjoyed a walk through the deep buried cellar for our wine pairing with some local treats.
Wine tasting was definitely one of the reasons to explore Chile. We loved the chance to find new tasty wines on our travels.
Learning About Pisco Sours Too!
We were interested in learning more about the wines of Chile. But we were also introduced to the local Pisco Sour made with local Pisco liquor and citrus juice. While it was not my favourite drink on our day trip to Casablanca, who could pass on our first Pisco Sour in Chile?
When we enjoyed the luxury experiences at the Ritz-Carlton Santiago, we were delighted when we were treated to a private lesson on making Pisco Sours. We were walked through the steps to make a classic Pisco Sour with a tasty sweet foam on top. Three shots of Pisco were added to one each of simple syrup and lime juice. Powdered egg white formed the sweet foam on top after a vigorous shaking. The sweet foam on top certainly changed our view of the tart Pisco Sour.
During our stay at the Ritz-Carlton Santiago, we enjoyed a private chef dinner. Throughout the dinner we were introduced to many local drinks. We tried a Pisco Sour made with a simple change. Pisco Sour del Campo replaced the simple syrup with honey and added ginger to open up the honey. Much more to my taste than the classic drink.
We learned that in Chile Pisco was traditionally aged in oak barrels which resulted in a yellow hue. But in Peru, Pisco was typically double distilled in stainless steel and was clear in colour. An interesting twist was the Lapostolle Pisco XO that was aged in Cognac barrels and had a ruby tinge.
We learned so much about Pisco Sours. Definitely one of the boozy reasons to explore Chile.
Discovering Local Foods
When we travelled, we always enjoyed the local foods. With 6,435 km (4,000 miles) of coastline, it was not hard to find great seafood in Chile.
We found Spanish treats at every stop. It was great to get empanadas and local cheese when we went wine tasting in Casablanca.
We were spoiled when the chef at the Ritz-Carlton Santiago made a local dinner for our private enjoyment. The empanada was filled with tender beef and had a spicy chancho en piedra on the side. We asked for the salsa-like side dish with less spice for us spice wimps. For our main dish, we had a local corn cake (Pastel de Choclo). Under the corn topping we found a tasty beef mix with small quail eggs. This was served with a small a Chilean salad (tomato with onion) that we were told to put into the middle of the corn cake.
We had lots to choose for desserts. The countries in South America were known for dulce de leche or milk caramel. It was even available for breakfasts. While this kept the caramel fan in me happy, we also found tasty dark chocolate. For our chef dinner, we even got a very local treat. The Leche Navala (snowy mountain) was a massive soft meringue in a very sweet creamy sauce.
The variety in the local foods was one of the most tasty reasons to explore Chile.
Charming Small Towns
We found many small towns on our travels around Chile. There were interesting sights and great views.
Every where we went we found colourful outdoor art. The topics were varied and often told us tales of the region we visited.
The small towns in Chile were great to use as a base to explore the areas. But discovering more about the small towns was one of the reasons to explore Chile more on a return visit.
Large Interesting Cities
On our cruise around South America, we missed the chance to explore Santiago when the pandemic changed our plans for South America. But when we returned to South America to and started our cruise to Antarctica, we enjoyed a few days in Santiago before and after the cruise.
Santiago was a great place to enjoy a luxury hotel stay. We loved all the great pampering experiences available at the Ritz-Carlton Santiago. A great upgraded suite, welcome amenities, a rooftop pool with outdoor patio and amazing local food and drink treats.
There were so many great spots to get panoramic views out over the city. We could choose from the the Sky Constanera Viewpoint, Cerro Santa Lucía or Parque Metropolitano (also known as Cerro San Cristóbal). Unfortunately, local fires reduced visibility on both of our stays and we never did get up for that great view.
The main square at Plaza da Armas offered much to see and do. The Santiago Metropolitan Church (Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago de Chile) dominated the square. The bright yellow Museo Historico Nacional was found beside the historic central post office and national monument (the Correos Chile). Wandering around a few streets we found the National Congress, Tribunales de Justica and Museum of Pre-Columbian Art (Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino).
We found lots to see and do on a visit to Santiago. Although we did sadly experience one of the downsides of big cities. While someone ran off with my iPhone, a chase and quick action by the police got it returned. Big cities are one of reasons to explore Chile but take care! It was certainly a lesson we took with us when we later visited Buenos Aires.
We Discovered So Many Reasons To Explore Chile
On our first visit to Chile on our cruise around South America, we found so many reasons to explore Chile. We were happy when we got to enjoy some time in Santiago when we started our cruise to Antarctica there. But our short visits left much for a return trip.
We definitely wanted to plan a trip to the Easter Islands on a visit to Chile. And a visit to the Atacama Desert would lead right to the Salt Flats in Bolivia. So many reasons to return.
Did you find lots of reasons to explore Chile? Did we miss one to plan for our next visit?
Copyright Notice: All material on this travel blog site is the sole property of RetiredAndTravelling. This includes blog posts, pages, design and all photos (whether watermarked or not). Any use of materials from this site without express written consent will be considered copyright infringement.