A gallery of images from our holiday visit to Chile, December 24 – January 6.
Click to enlarge, read captions and view slideshow.
First things first, fantastic coffee from JustPeople in Santiago.
The view from Nick’s brother’s place in Vitacura, Santiago.
Skyline of Providencia neighborhood of Santiago. The building on the right is the tallest in Latin America at 984 ft.
Holiday spirit in Santiago’s Plaza de Armas.
We visited the Montes vineyard in the Colchagua Valley wine region.
Our overnight stop in the Colchagua Valley was Hotel Terraviña, built right amongst the vines.
Hotel Terra Viña lawn and pool.
An Italian restaurant called Vino Bello is just a short walk through the vineyard. The hotel provides flashlights for the return trip after sunset.
Laura Hartwig winery provides free horse and carriage rides around the grounds, great for kids.
Meanwhile, the adults can taste some wine straight from the source.
Laura Hartwig’s barrel aging cellar.
Our home for 3 nights at Punta de Lobos.
View of the Pacific from Loft Punta de Lobos.
Shopping for produce for dinner.
Busy beach at Punta de Lobos.
The formations that give the point its name. (Wolves Point)
Conditions here create perfect waves for surfing, making it an internationally known location.
This is what 58 degree water feels like. No swimming for the faint of heart.
The beach across the street from our house.
Lunch at La Loba restaurant. Risotto in squid ink with calamari, yum!
Centro Cultural Agustín Ross in Pichilemu.
Back in Santiago we visited the Bella Vista neighborhood.
Pablo Neruda’s house, La Chascona is a popular tourist site in Bella Vista.
The Funicular de Santiago is a must-see. It takes visitors to the top of San Cristóbal Hill.
From the top of San Cristóbal hill you get a nearly 360 degree view of Santiago.
A prominent Santiago landmark is the statue of the Virgin Mary at the summit of San Cristóbal hill.
In the center of the business district is Santa Lucía Hill, a remnant of an old volcano that was turned into a park.
The park is a maze of stairways and fountains leading to an overlook at the summit.
Palacio de la Moneda is the seat of the president of Chile.
The Chilean flag is a common sight everywhere in the country, this enormous one flies in front of La Moneda.
Our next stop is the town of San Pedro de Atacama in far northern Chile.
San Pedro by night.
Early morning scene in San Pedro. Many excursions begin early, so in the morning the streets are filled with people waiting for vans to pick them up.
Our first excursion began at the Salar de Atacama, the largest salt flat in Chile. The surface is made up of minerals left over from evaporating water. Not surprisingly, this is the driest non-polar desert on Earth.
Part of the Salar de Atacama is the National Flamingo Reserve.
Church in the village of Socaire.
Two lakes known as Lagunas Altiplanicas were the final destination of our first excursion. This is the smaller lake, Laguna Miñiques.
The larger, heart-shaped Laguna Miscanti.
For our second excursion, we chose a tour of Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna. Here is our van parked precariously on the edge of Valle de la Muerte.
Overhanging rock at Valle de la Luna.
Emerging from salt caves in Valle de la Luna.
Tours of Valle de la Luna end with people hiking up a giant sand dune and picking out a spot to view the sunset.
We settled on this high ridge to watch the sun go down.
Valle de la Luna at sunset.
Early morning tea before our guided climb up Cerro Toco volcano.
Breakfast out of the back of a Jeep on the side of the road.
Nearing the summit of Cerro Toco. It’s a slow climb because with only 45% of normal oxygen levels, you have to take it easy.
View from the summit of Cerro Toco, elevation 18,386ft. This is the highest we’ve ever been. The lakes in the background are in Bolivia.
Cerro Toco summit.
Post-volcano climb the only thing we had energy for was a little shopping in a San Pedro market.
The sun is intense here, don’t forget the sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat.
On our last day in San Pedro we did an excursion to the El Tatio geyser field, the third largest collection of geysers in the world.
To reach El Tatio by sunrise, when the steam is the most visible, you have to leave San Pedro at 4:30am.
Neil taking a dip in the warm springs at El Tatio.
A herd of Vicuñas grazing on some grass just south of El Tatio.
Church in the village of Machuca.
Stopping by the Puritama River Gorge on the way back to San Pedro.
One again we returned to Santiago. We biked around the lovely hilltop Parque Metropolitano.
Last meal in Santiago before heading home. Ceviche and Pisco Sours for the road.