Our original plans were for a yearlong trip, so we never imagined we’d have a Month #13 Update. Yet here we are! So lets get to it…
Month #13 At A Glance
- Countries visited: 1
- Number of beds slept in: 7
- Miles traveled: 2,502
- City-to-city transport segments: 5
- Boat segments: 1
- Busses: 4
- UNESCO World Heritage Sites Visited: 1
- The Seaport of Valparaiso
- Breweries Visited: 4
- Anfiteatro (Valparaiso), Altamira (Valparaiso), Mustache (Pucon), Kunstmann (Valdivia)
- Different types of local beers drank: 76 (So much variety here! And, hey – don’t judge, it was the holidays after all, and this also includes beer flights/samplers)
Month #13 Travel Recap
Our Month #12 update last left off with us near Lima, Peru, where we celebrated the one-year anniversary of our nomadic lifestyle with the awesome experience of swimming with sea lions. Since then our voyage continued down South America’s Pacific Coast, continuing to use the lovely Celebrity Infinity as a comfy means of transportation.
Arriving to Chile: Arica
We docked in a town called Arica, which gave us our first impressions of Chile. Chile will likely end up being the country we will have spent the most time in during our entire trip so far. So with Arica being a quite pleasant introduction, we started to get excited for what was to come.
Within the first minute of stepping off the ship, I stumbled across a local brewer in a local craft market who explained about his cerveza artisanal. Then we chatted with one of the friendliest taxi driver’s of our trip, as he brought us over to a spectacular coastal hike that wound its way past estuaries, guano-covered cliffs, tidal pools, and even through caves. Back in Arica, we visited the Museo del Sitio Colon 10, which housed the world’s oldest known preserved mummies. (Their estimated burial is around 7000 BC, which is actually 2,000 years before the more famous Egyptian mummies!) We finally ended the day, kicking back a few cervezas on an outside patio right in front of the beautiful church that Gustave Eiffel (known for his tower in Paris) had designed. Like I said, great first impression!
Final Days at Sea
We then had a few final sea days on the Infinity to stuff our faces with steak & lobster, take in one last show, conclude our trivia series, and say goodbye to new friends. Once docked in the Chilean port town of Valparaiso, we bid farewell to modern luxury on this megaship and checked into our tiny hostel up on a hill.
After spending a total of 31 of the past 56 days on two luxurious cruises going from Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale and on to Valparaiso, then checking into more budget-friendly accommodation; we were a little perplexed when our daily sushi appetizers weren’t available, our pillow had no chocolate or towel animal on it, and we couldn’t seem to locate the hot tubs. I’m just being facetious, of course, but I’d be lying to say we didn’t have a little bit of withdrawal from cruise life while returning to our backpacker roots.
Roaming Around Valparaiso
Despite our withdrawals, we very much enjoyed our few days in Chile’s gritty and artsy port city of Valparaiso (or Valpo as its locally referred to). This UNESCO World Heritage Site is known for its hilly layout, complete with a number of narrow staircases and alleyways. Or you can instead opt to move around the cerros (hills) using the crazy-steep 100-year-old funiculars that crank you up the sharp grade. The seemingly ancient cables make you fear for your life as they make you think the funicular may suddenly turn into a real-life Tower of Terror. Its all part of the fun though.
Yet perhaps best of all was all the amazing street art, which covered all the buildings and passageways. We’ve viewed a lot of incredible graffiti throughout our travels, but Valparaiso may take the cake.
Holidays in Santiago
From Valpo, we ventured inland to Chile’s capital, Santiago. Here, we rented an apartment in the central area for two weeks to get some work completed and celebrate the holidays. Christmas was first on the agenda and we discovered that Chileans tend to celebrate it by feasting on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day. So we followed local tradition and cooked up a big turkey dinner on the night before Christmas. We also followed the local customs by sipping on a drink called cola de mono (monkey tail), which is a delicious Christmastime concoction made from aguardiente, milk, coffee, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar. It was deceptively smooth and reminded me faintly of Irish cream liqueur but this was even better and it really packed a punch!
Christmas in Santiago
On Christmas day, the entire capital city was essentially shut down, so we decided to head out to the big church in the center of town – Cathedral de Metropolitana – to see if anything was going on. We ended up partaking in the full Christmas Day mass, which was given by the Bishop, himself. It was an interesting cultural experience and was quite nice getting into the spirit by attempting to sing Christmas songs in Spanish. Thank goodness they provided handouts with the lyrics. Leftover cola de mono followed church services. 😉
New Year’s Eve in Santiago
New Years Eve next approached and we discovered our apartment just happened to be only a few blocks away from Santiago’s equivalent of Time Square. Here there was a huge party spanning dozens of blocks with a big concert stage. Vendors were set up everywhere selling party supplies such as confetti, plastic hats, and novelty ties. Meanwhile opportunistic youth more discretely sold beers from their backpacks. It was an awesome fiesta and everyone was in such fun celebratory spirits. Being summertime down here, it was quite warm. Yet people threw around white confetti that mimicked snow. We left the big party a little early though to instead view the grand firework display from the rooftop of our apartment building, which provided a spectacular view.
Adventure in Southern Chile: Climbing Volcan Villarica
After a few more boring workdays, we were growing thirsty for adventure. So we bussed down south to the Lakes region to satiate this craving. The village of Pucon was our first stop here, which lies beneath the ominous snow-covered Villarica Volcano. We just had to climb it. Wow, what an experience! The hours long summit is done almost entirely in the snow, using crampons and ice picks to climb up the steep and icy grade. We barely made it to the cone at the very top, as this trek really wore us down. But perhaps the best part of the day was sledding the entire way back down! What a thrill! I captured some of it on video so I’m really hoping to post more about this incredible experience soon.
Also out of Pucon, we embarked on a hyrdospeed adventure down the Liucura River. We slapped on some diving fins, a wet suit, and grabbed a foam board (similar to a boogie board) to shoot down the river’s wild rapids. Class III rapids are playful on a big raft, but when the only thing between you and the water is a thin piece of styrofoam, the rapids take on a whole new dimension!
A Change of Plans
From there, we going to head across the border to Argentina and journey further south. But with high season in full swing and no accommodation prebooked, we couldn’t find anywhere to stay. So this dictated us continuing our southbound travels on the Chilean side of the Andes, as we found a nice college town a few hours away to drop into as we plotted our next moves.
Boats and Beers in Valdivia
In the city of Valdivia, we took a lovely boat tour of the surrounding rivers. We visited forts, watched war reenactments, and did some small hikes. We also paid a visit to the city’s resident sea lions that get fat hanging out by the fish market, awaiting scraps from the daily catch. To top it all off, the brewery of Chile’s most well known craft beer is also conveniently located just outside of town. So, of course, we had to drop into Kunstmann to try all of their offerings.
The Adventure Continues in Puerto Varas: Canyoning
Most recently we journeyed back towards the Andes to a town called Puerto Varas. It was here that we embarked on an exhilarating canyoning excursion down the Rio Blanco. This day trip took us jumping off cliffs, sliding down natural slides and even rappelling down the side of a huge waterfall! Talk about adrenaline!
Southern Chile is definitely satiating our thirst for adventure and we’re really looking forward to what the Patagonia region has to offer.
We usually detail our favorite meals, beers, adventures, etc. each month. Instead, we’re going to change things up a bit and do this using country summaries going forward. But I’ll give a little teaser and just say that the Chilean barbeque has blown our minds, the local pale ale we had in Puerto Varas was ridiculously tasty, and sledding down a snowy volcano was maybe one of our most thrilling experiences yet.
Where Are We Roaming Around Next?
After a solid month in Chile, we’re hoping to finally make our way over to Argentina. From here our rough plan is to zip all the way down to el fin del mundo (the end of the world) as far south as we can make it on this continent. Then, we’d really love to take an excursion down to Antarctica, but at price tag of about $10,000 for the both of us, it just doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards for this trip. Yet if anyone has any connections or inside information on last minute trips to the seventh continent, please contact us! 😉
From there, we’re planning to slowly make our way back up through southern Chile and Argentina before ending back in Santiago in early March.
In mid March – new development – we’ll be roaming around… New Zealand! We’re super excited about this, as it’s just been one of those countries we’ve always dreamed of going to but were never quite sure we’d be able to make it to.
What’s New On the Blog?
- You can read about our New Year’s Travel Resolutions and give us a hard time if you discover that we’re not following them.
- We also outlined our Top 20 Favorite Experiences from our first year in travel.
- But we had to counter that post with a lighthearted look at our Top 20 Worst Experiences from the past year.
See Ya Next Month!
Thanks for coming along on this journey through Chile with us! Until next time, happy travels!