Friday, April 22, 2011

Argentinian Patagonia Tips

EL CALAFATE
Small touristy town with loads of restaurants, hotels and tour operators that take you to Perito Moreno and northward.



Touring:
Perito Moreno- THE reason to come to El Calafate, an amazing glacier and a Patagonian highlight, entrance to Parque Nacional Los Glaciares 75 ARS/person. Can be explored via various types of tours- anything from just a bus to get there, to a bus plus short boat tour, to ice trekking on the glacier.

Accommodations:
Hostal del Glaciar Libertador- nice HI hostel a couple blocks from main tourist strip, variety of room types. Av. Libertador 587. Tel. 02902-492492

Dining:
Ovejitas de la Patagonia- good local chocolate shop, try the hot chocolate! Located at Av. Libertador 1197, Tel. 02902-491-315.

Casablanca- good pizza on main road Av. Libertador 1202.

Viva La Pepa Creppes & Passion- good light meals- salad/sandwich/crepes, located at Emilio Amado 833.

Transportation:
Cal Tur- one of three main bus companies. Runs tour to Perito Moreno (just a bus) at 10:00 or 13:45 for 100 ARS roundtrip. Buses to El Chalten at 8:00, 13:00 and 18:30 for 150 ARS roundtrip.(Both buses can be booked for 210 ARS). Seats are not assigned, get there early to grab a good seat.


EL CHALTEN
The town is situated at the northern entrance to Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, in a stunning location, and all hiking trails begin directly from the town.



Touring:
*There is no touring per-se, but the reason to come here is to hike up some amazing mountains.
Upon arrival you will be advised by a ranger on environmental protection in the area and the various hiking trails. Many can be done in a day; some require over-night camping. There are also many climbing opportunities (depending on the weather).

Accommodations:
Patagonia Hostel- nice HI hostel, with a variety of room types. Tel. 54-2962-493019, http://www.elchalten.com/patagonia/indexen.php


MORE IN THE BLOG:
El Calafate
El Chalten

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine Tips

PUERTO NATALES
The town serves as a hub for preparing to trek the Torres del Paine. You can get everything you need here, but the prices are not cheap. Try to bring most gear from a bigger city.



Accommodations:
Hostal de los Castillos- Pretty good but some rooms are nicer than others. Tel. (56-61) 413641

*There are lots of hotels/hostels but they book up really fast so try to make a reservation ahead of time.

Dining:
Masay- great sandwiches (skip the pizza), located at Manuel Bulnes 427.

Transportation:
Flights- limited direct service run by Sky Airlines.

Buses Gomez- to get to Torres del Paine, depart at 7:00 and 14:30, book in town and they will pick you up at your accommodation, www.busesgomez.com

Buses Zaahj- to get to El Calafate, Argentina, www.turismozaahj.co.cl
Definitely book buses to Argentina ahead of time, they fill up, and seats are numbered.


TORRES DEL PAINE



There are a number of ways to see the park:
*all-inclusive hotel vacations with day trips
*trekking the W (can camp or stay in lodges) appx. 5 days
*trekking the Circuit (must camp) appx. 10 days.

Plan your route by checking out the following map:
http://fsexpeditions.com/booking_hiker/torres_del_paine_map.html

Lodges (refugios)- are run by two companies and should be booked ahead of time during high season:
Fantastico Sur- http://www.fslodges.com/en.html
Vertices- http://www.verticepatagonia.cl/

Park entrance fee- 15000 CLP/foreigner, discount for Chileans.


MORE IN THE BLOG:
Torres del Paine 1
Torres del Paine 2
Torres del Paine 3
Torres del Paine 4
Torres del Paine 5
Puerto Natales

Monday, April 18, 2011

Punta Arenas Tips

PUNTA ARENAS




Touring:
* The town of Punta Arenas is pretty nice and worth walking around the main plaza and a couple of local museums. Additionally there are various tours that can be organized from here by bus or boat. Prepare for extreme wind (all year round).

Seno Otway Pinguinera
- see penguins in their natural habitat, tours leave every day around 14:00. A "tour" with Buses Fernandez is 7000 CLP at booking + 1000 CLP paid as toll on the way. Entrance to the park is 5000 CLP. It is not recommended to go there independently because extreme wind conditions make driving quite perilous.

Accommodations
:
Joshiken Hostal- It was pretty nice and very close to the bus station for Puerto Natales and the penguins. www.hostaljoshiken.cl

Transportation:
Flights- operated by Lan Chile and Sky Airlines

Buses Fernandez-to get to Puerto Natales (several times a day) or to do the penguin tour at 16:00 daily; www.busesfernandez.com
Buy ahead of time because seats are numbered.

Shopping:
Zona Franca- the duty free zone, has mostly lots of stuff made in China. If you are continuing on to trek, there is a good gear store Balfur, that is significantly cheaper than other options in the south.


MORE IN THE BLOG:
Punta Arenas

Friday, April 15, 2011

Chiloe Tips

ANCUD AREA



Touring:
Punihuil Pinguinera- fantastic half hour boat tour to see penguins and lots of other wildlife on three little islands right off the coast; price negotiable.

Dining:
El Rincon del Caleuche- in Punihuil, the restaurant all the way at the end of the beach strip; fabulous empanadas (their specialty is cheese with abalone-locos)! Tel. 918 122 40.

La Botica de Cafe- in Ancud, within one block of the main plaza; has great coffee (espresso)!



CASTRO AREA



Touring:
*In town see the palafitos, houses on stilts, and the main church plaza.
*Around the area, tour churches.

Accommodation:
Palafito 1326- really nice boutique hotel, Ernesto Riquelme 1326, Tel.56-65-530053, www.palafito1326.cl
Palafito hostel-by the same owners, a more affordable option, also nice. Ernesto Riquelme 1210, Tel.56-65-531008 www.palafitohostel.com


MORE IN THE BLOG:
Chiloe

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Frutillar Tips

FRUTILLAR
Just a little north of Puerto Varas, is another town that makes a good hub for visiting the area. It is a lot smaller and more quaint and there are quite a few hotels there.



Touring:
The German Museum- not to miss! A great museum about the German colonization of the lakes district, includes restored buildings and artifacts, as well as, impressive gardens to explore. 2000 CLP/person.

Theater- the regional lakes district theater is located on the lake and has many events. It also has a small museum inside.

Dining:
Lavanda Casa de Te- a tea house located in a field of lavender with breathtaking views of the area; be sure to make a reservation ahead of time; www.lavandacasadete.cl, Tel. 92691684.

Duendes del Lago- on the main lake road in Frutillar, has really good kuchen (cake). Tel.85839040.


MORE IN THE BLOG:
Frutillar

Monday, April 11, 2011

Puerto Varas and Ensenada Tips

PUERTO VARAS
The main hub from which to tour the towns around Lake Llanquihue.


Touring:
In Town:
The Architecture Tour- see some old dilapidated houses (from the outside)
Cerro Phillipi- for a view of the town and lake from above

Around:
Volcan Calbuco- explore the country road to get here. The entrance is via a private property so you will need a little luck to actually get to the mountain.

Llanquihue- another small town on the lake, not much there.

Frutillar- this is a really nice town, (consider staying there) tips coming in the next post.

Dining:
Dane's- excellent empanadas, always a line out the door. Del Salvador 441, Tel. 232371



ENSENADA
The town closest to Volcan Osorno and Petrohue.
*Note that there isn't much in town, so if you're going to be cooking in your cabin, you might want to bring provision from Puerto Varas.



Touring:
*All of these are part of Vicente Perez Rosales National Park.

Volcan Osorno
- drive up to the top for views of the lake and surrounding area. There are also several hiking trails on the way.

Saltos de Petrohue- not to miss, beautiful waterfalls with volcano in the background; there are a few hiking trails within the park as well.

Lago Todos Los Santos- this beautiful emerald colored lake is a must-see! You can take a day tour to visit from Puerto Varas or drive yourself to Petrohue and take a boat tour from there.
Boat tour to Peulla and back 22000 CLP/person; bring lunch. Note: you will have a few hours in Peulla while waiting for people coming from Argentinian side.

Peulla- once on the other side of the lake in Peulla there are a few small trails to explore: a small cemetary, Saltos Velo de la Novia, plus longer trails if you stay overnight.

*It is also possible to cross to Argentina (towards Bariloche) via the Lakes/Buses combo tour. Tour begins in Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas. www.cruceandino.com

Accommodations:
Cabanas Brisas del Lago- extremely clean lakeside cabins, located right in front of Volcan Osorno. www.brisasdellago.cl


MORE IN THE BLOG:
Puerto Varas
Ensenada

Friday, April 8, 2011

Puerto Montt Tips

PUERTO MONTT
An industrial hub and gateway to the lakes district. There is no reason to stay here unless you have a very late arrival or a morning departure from the airport.

Touring:
Angelmo- The port area has many concinerias, where fresh cooked fish and seafood is served for lunch. It also abounds with tourist shops.

Accommodations:
Tren del Sur- cute hostel that has a really good restaurant above it; www.trendelsur.cl

Transportation:
Car Rental- It is not so easy to get around in the lakes district, and a car rental is a really great idea. The one thing you should know, is that the roads (in Chiloe especially) are not so good, and to get to the little churches there are lots of unpaved gravel roads. It is probably a smart idea not to get the smallest car offered.

MORE IN THE BLOG:
Puerto Montt

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Valparaiso Tips

VALPARAISO



Touring:
Lukas Museum- really great small museum featuring caricatures of Lukas.
Located on Paseo Gervasoni 448, Cerro Concepcion, Tel. 32-2221344. Entrance 700 CLP/person.

*Also, visit the port, ride up a funicular, and explore the streets and neighborhoods full of galleries and small shops.


MORE IN THE BLOG:
Valparaiso
 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Santiago Tips

SANTIAGO



Touring:
*Pick up a tourist map at the tourist information in Plaza de Armas

Museo PreColombino- great small museum with nice collection of indigenous artifacts from all of Latin America. Tues-Sun, 10-18.

La Moneda & museum- the government palace, in the underground museum are rotating temporary exhibitions.

Cerro Santa Lucia- hill close to downtown for a view of the city.

Providencia- a mixed use neighborhood that nice to walk through during the week. (around Valdivia metro stop, plus/minus 3 stops)

Dining:
Cafe con Piernas- coffee with legs, half naked girls serve mediocre coffee, a raunchy must if you are a man. Women might want to try Cafe Haiti for a slightly less offending taste of the action. Various locations downtown.

Domino- hotdogs with lots of toppings, go during lunch time on a weekday in the Centro, or just anywhere; they are all over the place.

Tip y Tap- local chain with sandwiches (churasco) and some other stuff.

Tavelli- local chain, ice cream shop that also serves food. Lunch special is good, ice cream mediocre.

Emporio la Rosa- local chain, really great ice cream.


Shopping:
Pueblo Los Dominicos- artist village, for mostly affordable artisanal crafts

Malls- our favorites were Alto Las Condes and Parque Arauco, but there is no shortage and the malls carry many international labels.

MORE IN THE BLOG:
Santiago 1
Santaigo 2
Santiago 3