A Travellerspoint blog

Favourite things about Chilé!!

Briefest of blog notes about my favourite Chilean things..

Mountains- obviously have to top this list with the mountain views in Torres del Paine national park after allllllll that I just raved about them in my last post!! Mountains are always my favourite!
Manjar- this is basically like Chilé's version of dulce de leche, somehow they've managed to make it even creamier. Yummy in my tummy. Working on putting back on the weight I lost being sick!!
Merken- this spice is ground aji pepper, bit spicy, peppery, smoky, and extremely delicious on everything you can think to add it to!
Diversity from north to south- Chilé is the weirdest shaped country in the world. Hands down. Which makes it so cool to go from the hot San Pedro desert in the north, to wine country in the middle, to chilly mountains in the south.
Carmenérè- ooooobviously wine is going to make this list as well. Carmenérè was originally produced in France and is now unique to Chilé so naturally I had to make sure to drink a lot while I was in the country! Thankfully I'm on to Argentina where there is also delicious wine!!

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Posted by elliehirch 06:12 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Hiking the "W" in Torres del Paine.

A.K.A. How to get a great butt in 5 days


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After leaving Valparaiso I had a couple days of transportation, flying to Punta Arenas, staying the night, then bus to Puerto Natales to get myself organized for the big hike to come... 5 days in Torres del Paine National Park, hiking the "W". I was lucky enough to meet two awesome and fun American girls, Sydney and Stephanie, at the same hostel the night before we started. We were going the same direction (many people hike it the opposite) and ended up spending the 5 days together!

  • Warning.. Long post with tons of mountain pictures ahead ;)

Day 1- We started things off with the easiest day, only a few short hours to our first refugio, El Chileno. The views were beautiful from the moment we started.

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On this beautiful ridge we had our first exposure to the howling winds of Patagonia!

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We arrived at our first refugio, El Chileno amongst mountain and river views.

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Our first afternoon was a quiet one, hanging out with people at the refugio, playing cards, drinking wine, enjoying supper, not bad, not bad at all!
We needed to rest up for our next day.. 3:00am wake up & 3:45am start to hike to the Torres (the main mountain peaks the park is named after) for sunrise.

Day 2- It was an adventurous early morning hike in the dark. After a 'puma scare' (which we will just mention and leave at that) and a rocky climb up, we were almost there as the sun started to peek out. And it was immediately worth it as the colours emerged..

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As the sun rose, I sat there (freezing) in awe of the Torres..

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And we had a beautiful 5 minutes when the sun shone brilliant red colours on the top of the towers..

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It was quiiiiiiiite cold up there, and ridiculously windy.. Hence how hard I was laughing at the wind blowing my tiny GoPro around while I tried to take a selfie..

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It made for a cool effect though..

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We took a few more photos up there..

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And then..though the winds hadn't abated at all, we all bucked up for the morning's highlight.. Shotgunned a beer at the base of the Torres at 6am..

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After that no one could feel their fingers so it was definitely time for the descent. We had breakfast at the refugio before grabbing our packs and heading off for the 5 hour walk to refugio #2, Los Cuernos. There were very few other people on the path, it was beautiful weather, and a beautiful path!!

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We found the greatest place to stop for lunch overlooking the brilliant colours of Lago Nordernskjöld..

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And a few more great sights before the end of the 18km day..

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We enjoyed some delicious Pisco sours once we reached the refugio as well as another great supper! (Everything about the refugios was 1000% worth it!)

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Day 3- Thankfully not quite as early to start, but fairly long so we still got going ASAP after breakfast. We were rewarded with a rocky beach view right along the lake shortly after starting!

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We continued to the camp (Italiano) at the base of our climb for the day.. The French Valley up to Mirador Britanico. After leaving our bags behind, this climb didn't seem difficult at all, much less than people had made it out to be!
The views in the valley are immediately beautiful, snowy white mountains..

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Where we were treated to views of avalanches!

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Apparently the valley was closed the next day due to increased wind and avalanches so I'm now feeling even luckier about what we saw and the wonderful day!
Shortly past the valley there was a rocky clearing..

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This hike really blew us away because it felt like there was something amazing to look at every 20 minutes. I'm sure the ease of the hike can be largely attributed to the distraction of these views!!
The view from the mirador/lookout point was nothing short of spectacular..

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As a little hint of how variable Patagonian weather is, these pictures were taken 10 minutes apart..

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So we were lucky again, got up there in time for a good view before the white out!!
The walk down also gives you beautiful things to look at!

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The unfortunate part of the day was having to grab our bags for another 7.5km to finish the 24km day at Paine Grande Refugio. Thankfully this was mostly flat so we could make good time. We also wished people 'Happy Halloween' along the way as it was October 31! This was our spookiest view of the day in a clearing with trees damaged from the forest fire a few years ago...

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Though I do absolutely love candy and dressing up and Halloween, I'd still take hiking in Torres del Paine any day!!

Day 4- The trek from Paine Grande to Refugio Grey. So I don't have much exciting to report about the start of this one. It was just windy as all get out. Not fun with big backpacks on. But once we got up to views of the lake, Lago Grey, moods improved!

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We finally embraced the wind once we reached the first lookout point to Glacier Grey. Leaning in to the 80-100km/h winds was actually the coolest feeling!!..

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After reaching the refugio, eating lunch and chilling, we went closer to the glacier lookout.

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This is where the story continues with a bit of a stressful situation. We'd spent most of the previous days planning how we could take a longer catamaran ride that goes right up to the glacier on Lago Grey, then a different shuttle for our bus back to town. Just when we found out from the refugio that our plan would work, they dashed our hopes and dreams with news that predicted 100km/h winds on the water the next morning might make the captain cancel the trip. We had to make the tough decision to wait at the refugio until 8am for the call from the captain-- which meant if it was a 'no' we would have to hustle back to Paine Grande for the alternate catamaran at 11:30am. Giving us exactly 3.5hrs for a 3.5hr trip!

Day 5- we decided to make another early morning trip to the glacier, just in case we didn't get to see it again from the boat. It looked neat in the early morning blue light.

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Then back to the refugio for a very stressful half an hour sitting around waiting to hear from the captain. The lady at the front desk radioed down at exactly 8:00am! She turned to us with the news... And it was a shake of the head "no". A few curse words were muttered before the three of us basically said, alright, let's just get going. Grabbed our bags and hit the trail running. After 4 days of blisters, sore muscles, joints, and heavy bags, we had looked forward to a nice long boat ride and the provided Pisco sour with glacier ice. But it was not to be. So we just proceeded to crush our last hike together! Made it in under 3 hours! (2hrs 50 minutes to be exact). Our bags started to feel so heavy by the end, I was cursing all the extra stuff I brought but our motto of the day was: I'm a strong, independent woman, I can carry my own bag (even if I definitely overpacked, I wanted it, I carried it!!). The silver lining of the hike was looking back at the glacier one last time to see a beautiful rainbow..

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After finishing that last hike, we had a nice lunch outside in front of dock, then made the most of that shorter catamaran ride, enjoying the blue waters and final mountain views.. We completed the "W"!..

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It was such a busy, beautiful 5 days, and I wouldn't change a thing! 72kms and 5 days later.. I'm proud of how awesome we did, how positive we stayed, and so happy that I met the greatest trail partners! Can't wait for our reunion hikes! :)

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Posted by elliehirch 05:20 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Colourful views in Valparaiso


View 8 Month Adventure on elliehirch's travel map.

Upon arrival in Valparaiso, I headed right to the main square for an afternoon walking tour.

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We started out in the harbor- the reason that this colorful town grew so quickly and was once a main seaport city in South America before the construction of the Panama Canal.

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We didn't have to go very much further before I completely fell in love with the city. A short trolley ride and funicular up gives amazing views of the colorful homes.

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And we walked through a large part of the area declared a UNESCO heritage site.

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But by far my most favourite part was the street art that you pass everywhere you walk.

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We got some good explanations of the city's famous street artists from the tour guide.

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I have oodles of street art photos, I love it so much. I'm just sharing my favourites!

Back at my hostel, I met a girl in the same room, Ali from England. I got to enjoy the next couple days with her and the fun of introducing ourselves with great enunciation of our names, just as Alli and I had done in Peru! It was Ali and Ellie travel time again!! We cooked supper at the hostel that night and bonded immediately over our love for all things wine.

The next day Ali and I had our own walking tour of Valparaiso which was unplanned and worked out perfectly. We found more fabulous street art :)..

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You see something more beautiful around every corner, it would have been so easy to get lost just wandering and looking at the art!

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Can you find me in the last one?

We also walked past coloured steps...

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And more city views...

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And ended up walking to the house of a famous Chilean poet, Pablo Nerulo. La Sebastiana is a very neat collection of decorations and furniture that fit his eclectic tastes. No pictures allowed though. Sorry guys you'll just have to come to Valpo for yourselves to see it, 10/10 would recommend.
After this we had a short walk to the hostel to grab beach things! It was the hottest day I'd had in awhile and I was all too happy to lie on the beach for a few hours!

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Our final event together was a wine tasting with other people from the hostel, Nina and Ahlysik as well!! We had so much fun trying a variety of wines and then dancing the night away at a bar afterwards. Ali and Ellie did well in Valparaiso!!

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Posted by elliehirch 04:00 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Santiago de Chilé


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I took a flight from San Pedro to Santiago de Chilé to spend a couple fun days in the countries capital city. Arriving at my hostel, I met an American couple, Nina and Ahlyzik, who I would spend lots of time with in both Santiago and my next destination of Valparaiso. We had dinner together the first night, then took a walking tour the next morning. It was a great tour for a flavor of the city. We started out in a beautiful park area beside Museo Bellas Artes.

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First stop was the oldest market in the city, the fish market.

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The central part of the market has lots of restaurants and a beautiful metal building.

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We continued the markets with the biggest one, Vega.

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No shortage of amazing looking produce.

Our next destination was the city cemetery which is seriously huge so we spent a good chunk walking there.
It starts with smaller graves stacked on top of each other in the rows. Called the 'apartments' by our guide.

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We moved onward to bigger mausoleums which she called 'houses'...

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Through to ones nothing short of 'mansions' and ones that were very unique and fancy.

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It's so green throughout, it feels like a park.

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We also passed a special grave site that the story goes was either a child who was mistreated and died, or a prostitute who's friends changed her story to be that of the child's after she died. People leave tons of flowers, toys, offerings there.

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After the tour, Nina, Ahlysik and I went back to the market for lunch and enjoyed some time shopping for salad ingredients and salmon for supper! It was so fun. Got a little cotton candy for the way home as well (not my first cotton candy or my last, it's just as good here as home!!! :):):):) )

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We enjoyed an evening cooking, hanging out in our boutique hostel and drinking wine.

I continued the Chilean wine vibes with a wine tour the next day. Concha y Toro is one of Chilés most known wineries so naturally I signed up for the Monday morning tour (and had a few extremely rewarding moments thinking of other people's Monday mornings while I was in Chilé drinking wine, sorry guys, couldn't help myself!!).

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The tour was just myself and Martin from Sweden. We walked into the vineyard to see the different grape plants and the beautiful view..

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Then into the newer cellars...

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Before going down to the Devil's cellar, which their most popular wine, Casillero del Diablo, is named for. It was a legend started by the vineyard owner to deter people from stealing his private stash of wine. Which seemed to work!

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The tastings were great, the guide was great, I loved the tour and the winery views.

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After getting back to the city, the wine day continued for Martin and I with lunch and another bottle of wine, before going to the viewpoint near to my hostel. Cerro San Cristobal has a funicular that a seriously great view of the whole city.

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Could have stayed up there for a looooong time!

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We bought some more wine on the way to the other hostel, then met the other guys back there for dinner (I introduced Martin to Taco Bell, conveniently right next to the hostel). I stayed up pretty late having wine with a few guys from the hostel and it was preeeettty fun! Got to enjoy a nice evening on the hostel's amazing rooftop patio.

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And that was it for Santiago. Quick visit before heading to Valparaiso!!

Posted by elliehirch 08:47 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

San Pedro de Atacama to start in Chilé


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My first half day in San Pedro was a quiet one, after border crossing, hostel check-in and booking tours and flights, I met up with John and Amelia for supper. Unfortunately something in that first half day didn't like me too much and I spent most of my night chuckin my cookies in the hostel bathroom. A night with lots of vomit trips and very little sleep made for an incredibly long day of tours to come. But being sick on this trip seems to be a standard for me so I sucked it up and made er onto the 5:00am bus to the Tatio Geysers. Which I'm very glad I did. The frigid temperatures and early morning make the geysers beautifully visible so the shivering and fatigue are totally worth it for these sights...

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We could walk in through lots of them to see the spurting water and steamy clouds.

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We ate breakfast overlooking the geysers which was pretty great. There were hot springs to swim in but the tepid water was not tempting enough for this sick girl.
We stopped at a beautiful lookout spot over a lagoon on the way back.

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Then at a big cactus valley.

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Where we could walk down to a great waterfall.

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The first tour concluded with a drop off at the hostel where I spent my entire afternoon sleeping! Before heading back to the tour companies office for my second tour. For this one our first stop was Mirador de Coyote, a great lookout point reminiscent of Wile Coyote and Roadrunner!

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Then onto Valle de Muerte, Death Valley. Though it was intended to be named Valle de Marte due to the Mars appearance, a mistaken word choice has stuck! The patterns shaped by wind in the valley are so amazing and unique!..

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We walked along the side of the incredibly windy valley, then down towards the sandy side.

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Which was where the fun started with a run down the sandy slope!

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I've never had so much sand in my shoes and so much fun acquiring it!
After this we headed to the second valley, Valle de la Luna, Moon Valley. After a short walk up, the view definitely explains the name.

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We spent a bit of time up there watching the sun set and the colours develop in the surrounding valley and volcanoes.

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And upon our return I had about enough energy for a quick shower before a wonderfully long sleep! I felt I had definitely made the most of my single day in San Pedro!

Posted by elliehirch 15:04 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

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