March 19, 2009

Chile with Journey Latin America Overview

Teresa and I decided to tour Chile, mainly because we both had always wanted to see Easter Island. We chose to travel with Journey Latin America, a well-respected small tour operator in the UK. The 19-day (including travel) Penguin Tour with Easter Island extension was well organized but a physically demanding journey.

We drove long distances over bumpy roads and through at least one river, climbed rapidly to altitudes of up to 4300 meters (Pikes Peak Summit is also 14,100 feet), cruised in rough waters, walked miles at a time over uneven terrain, often started early (one 4am pick-up), flew often (10 flight segments for me) and far (Easter Island is a five and a half hour flight from Santiago), and our longest stay in any one hotel was 4 nights (only because plane mechanical problems forced us to stay on Easter Island an additional night).

We were advised to pack for “four seasons” and were glad we did as we experienced all climates. At a penguin colony in Patagonia we wore everything we brought and shivered. On Easter Island, we stripped down as far as decency allowed and got scorched. The Atacama is the driest desert on Earth and it rains daily on Chiloe Island. Teresa got blown over during a fierce Patagonia gust (a group of us then clung together to avoid the same fate). Santiago and Valparaiso are temperate and pleasant Spanish Colonial cities.

Chile is 2700 miles long and averages 100 miles across, providing spectacular natural diversity and beauty. Are you a Mountain, Ocean, Desert person? Chile has it all!

We explored the Valley of the Moon, Salar Flats, Lagoons, and high altitude geysers in the Atacama desert.

Chiloe Island was the highlight of the Lake District.

Patagonia provided spectacular geological formations, glaciers, falls, and penguins.
Chile's best example of "culture" was Easter Island.
Will Teresa and I ever travel again together? We have already scheduled a Danube Cruise (Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Germany) this October.
Meanwhile, read the detailed posts to learn more about our Chile travel experiences and tips.

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