My South American journey has come to an end. I arrived back in Canada on Wednesday evening, after missed connections and travelling back to LAX and then to Toronto. My son and his friend excitedly picked me up at the airport (to applause! – that was fun haha).
I had an amazing time in Chile, and can recommend to everyone to take some time to explore the entire country. From Santiago north to Arica, there is so much to see and discover. I have made a list of my highlights of my trip.
Santiago was the first stop, and was a typical big city with some interesting barrios, delicious food and amazing scenery.
- The Andes – the incredible mountains looking over the city. Absolutely stunning to see from all parts of the city.
- Cerro San Cristobal – the hike up to the top of the hill was breathtaking. The statute was so amazing to see up close, and the entire trip to go up to the top was great exercise. The ride down on the funicular was slightly terrifying for me, but was fun.
- Barrio Bellavista – the area at the bottom of Cerro San Cristobal is teeming with funky bars, restaurants, shops and graffiti filled buildings.
Valparaiso/Vina del Mar
Second stop was Valparaiso. The funkiest city I experienced in Chile. It was cool, eclectic and had an edge to it. I would travel back to Valparaiso and Vina del Mar.
- Graffiti – almost every other building had street art or graffiti filling it. Incredible art to see. Every turn found more art to view. Stunning!
- The beaches – Vina del Mar had the most pristine beaches, the incredible first views of the Pacific Ocean and the walks along the beach.
- The food – so many different varieties of food to try, the aromas, the taste. It was delicious to wander the streets and try new foods.
This pretty little town set between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean was breathtaking. The sunsets over the ocean, viewed from my terrace at the hostel, was my evening ritual. I couldn’t get enough of walking through the streets and seeing the sites.
- The festival square – I arrived on a Sunday morning and wandered down to the main square, where a festival was taking place. The music, the food, the crowds of people – it was a feast for the eyes and nose!
- The views – most impressive views of the ocean.
- The calmness – I was impressed with how calm the city was. Everyone walking around seemed so relaxed and happy – I would be happy living there too.
The “pearl of the north”. Antofagasta is a city that offers so much – it is on the edge of the Atacama desert, so it is a dry city. Not much rain falls here, but it is fascinating. It prepared me for the dryness of the desert.
- The sea life – sea lions, pelicans – but sadly no penguins. The fish. It was very cool to see the sea lions and pelicans.
- Seafood – the seafood of the Pacific is the best I have ever had. Antofagasta has many restaurants to sample so many different fish dishes.
- The wharf – I spent most of my days wandering down to the wharf, to watch the fishing boats, to eat fresh fish, to people watch. Antofagasta was a very pleasant surprise!
San Pedro de Atacama
San Pedro – the driest desert on earth. It was dry, dusty, I felt like I was in the old west – the adobe buildings, the stray dogs – it had such an interesting feel to it. I discovered a lot about myself here, and overcame fears I have had in my life.
- Valle de la Luna – the Moon Valley. The most incredible part of my entire trip to Chile. Sounds a bit corny but it truly was life-changing for me.
- Pukara de Quitor – a visitor’s area about 30 minute walk from San Pedro. Walking across a river, climbing to the second rest stop, and looking out over the valley. Worth the sunburn I got!
- The Milky Way – I was lucky to have been in a hostel that I had another terrace to sit out on. And we were far enough away from the town’s lights that I could look up in the sky and see millions of stars and the milky way. Incredible!!
Surf City!! My last stop and I picked a great place to end my trip. I spent almost every day on the beach. Such a relaxing way to end this amazing trip.
- Playa Chinchorro – my beach of choice. A 10 minute walk from my hostel. A 5 km beach with white sand, warm waters, body boarders, and surfers. Lots of fun to watch!!
- 21 Mayo Av – the pedestrian street in Arica – restaurants, little shops, street vendors, buskers (rapping in Spanish is always interesting to hear!) – something for everyone!
- San Marcos Cathedral – the Cathedral that was designed by Gustav Eiffel – such a unique cathedral to see.
I am now back in Canada for a couple of years – but I will still continue to take small trips while I am here. For now, I am going to get back to being a Canadian and taking in all things Canadian. I will enjoy being back with my family and friends.