Traveled to Santiago, Chili for 2 nights prior to boarding a cruise ship to sail around Cape Horn. Arriving Santiago will cost US passport holders a steep reciprocityfee of $160 PP with the only saving grace is that you can charge it. Customs at the Santiago Airport are very strict as not to allow any non-originally still sealed food items into the country; the storm troopers were confiscating galore. My challenge at the arrival terminal was finding an ATM that dispenses cash. Following an extensive search, I discovered only six(6) ATMs at the arrival terminal and only one(1) dispensed cash. For transportation, I chose the highly reliable “Vanman” (www.thevanmanadventures.com) and shared the cost with friends. Santiago Airport is about 20 minutes from downtown, and I bunked at Casa Bonita B & B (www.casabonita.com) – decent prices.
Took the metro which was easy to navigate, clean and cheap, to “La Bicicleta Verda” where I biked the parks and politics tour. The tour gives you an interesting city perspective, but many venues were closed to include the museum of art. Following the biking, my small group walked over to Cerro San Cristobal only to find that the funicular to the top of the hill was down for repairs (it will be closed for a year), and the shuttle bus stops operating at 5pm, so we walked about 1/3 of the way up to a nice vantage point. As you walk towards San Cristobal Hill there are numerous eating establishments, but they all seemed somewhat touristy. On day 2, I spent the day at Casca de las Animas (www.cascada.net). This is a lovely place on the river where you can relax and enjoy the outdoors away from the city; also a number of activities are offered, so I selected whitewater rafting (class 3 rapids) and did a canopy ride/jump. It takes about 1 hr using private transportation (once again the “Vanman” was available) to get to the resort. On my final day, I visited the lovely Emiliana Winery which is the only certified organic winery in Chili. I could have easily spent many hours walking the grounds, but I was on my way to Valparaiso so an hour was all I could afford. As for Valparaiso, I was not very impressed; it is a coastal city, crowded with narrow streets – this place is definitely not on my return list.