|Subject: Re: New Toronto member seeks Chile tips|
I went to Sothern Chile in Feb 04 for 3 weeks and also had a few days in Argentina.
A few brief points, if you want more info email me and I'll send it to you - I have quite a lot. A good geneeral site to start with is http://www.chipsites.com/Travel/index.htm - I didn't spend much time in Santiago and missed out on the north which I'd like to visit another time. Have a look at http://www.sanpedroatacama.com to get a flavour of what's available in one popular spot there.
- Dec/Jan is a good time to go south but the weather is more like Scotland or Ireland (or Canada I suppose) so be prepared for rain and wind - although it's not really cold
- To enjoy S Chile I think you need to enjoy outdoor activities - wildlife, scenery,hiking, mountains, the sea etc. You don't have to be youthful (I'm over 60)but I think it would be a miserable place for trendy sophisticates who want to hang around the pool at fashionable resorts
- If you're going down to Torres del Paine Nat Park (and you should) consider the Navimag ferry if you like ships. It's a commerical truck ferry with passenger accommodation, definitely not a cruise ship, but it's very comfortable by my standards and you'll see plenty of seabirds and other wildlife and meet lots of interesting travellers. It takes 3 nights but you're only on the open sea for about 10 hrs so it's not rough for very long. See www.navimag.cl
- Two specially interesting things I did were, first, to visit the Parque Nacional Huerqueue near Pucon and stay at a wonderful place called Refugio Tinquilco run by a Chilean environmentalist called Patricio Lanfranco. See website http://www.tinquilco.cl While there I met a lot of very interesting Chileans who took me on some great walks. The surrounding area is the volcano and lake district and has beautiful scenery. The second really interesting thing I did was to go on a 3 day whalewatching trip based on a camp on a very remote island (Isla Carlos III) in the Magellan Straits (you travel from Punta Arenas). See http://www.whalesound.com/home.htm It's expensive but worth every peso. Of course you can see whales in plenty of other places in the world but this is very special - it's a joint enterprise between a local entrepreneur and some academics who tag and observe the whales at their feeding ground in the Straits. You'll see a lot of other marine life too. I found sitting quietly in the camp in the evening listening to the whales was one of the most wonderful experiences I've ever had.
I can send you recommendations for places to stay (upmarket backpacker standard) if you want them. I also visited Ushuaia.
Also consider combining Chile and Argentina, especially in the south - you'll miss a lot if you don't. And Buenos Aires and the Iguazu Falls are not to be missed.
Good luck - I'm sure you'll have a great time.
Michael from Sydney