We spent 6 days in Santiago – much of it just to rest and get over the jet lag after the long flight from Auckland, and to plan the remaining part of our trip in South America. We explored the town a bit and did a day’s skiing at Valle Nevado and a wine tasting at Concha Y Toro. We liked Santiago more than most big cities, it’s pretty clean, full of interesting buildings, had big beautiful mountains in the distance and good food.

Santiago introduced us to the Pisco Sour which we were to sample later in Easter Island and Peru also: DSC05121

The wine tasting at Concha y Toro was a little disappointing – we took the 2nd tier tour which included a tasting on their “Marques” label premium range of wines paired with cheeses. Unfortunately, as seems typical with winery wine-and-cheese tastings, the pairing was done quite badly (it is difficult to get really good cheese there too). Compounded by the fact that the Marques wines weren’t really very good, it added up to a disappointment from a wine-critique point of view. But the tour was interesting enough and we had a fun time.

The tour included a visit to the “Casillero del Diablo” cellars where they put on some spooky sound and light effects:


Wine and cheese tasting spread:


The trip to Valle Nevado was great in the end, but got off to an unpleasant start due to practically no sleep the night before because our hostel was so noisy (John – set a record for the trip of absolutely zero sleep on a non-travelling night). Secondly the ski bus & rental company we used – All2Ski – were very badly disorganised and we ended up waiting at the shop for over an hour for the bus to depart – which means we missed the best hour of the day’s skiing on the mountain – the morning after 6-8 inches of powder had been laid for us. However, once we finally got there, survived the hair-raising bus ride on slippery and windy mountain roads, and figured out the mess of the locker system at the ski center – we finally got our skis on and explored some really great slopes and excellent snow at up to 3650m (~12000ft) – with a backdrop of some really very high Andean mountains to keep us company. We hadn’t skied for a while and were very tired so we had to take it easy – but it was fantastic on fresh snow – until it warmed up too much in the mid afternoon.

Tres Puntas was the high point at around 3650m – and tough to get there on the longest drag lift I have ever used.


But getting there rewarded us with pistes like this – only a few skiers had been down them even by midday and there was a good 10+ inches of fresh powder – my first powder skiing!:


Clouds rolled in occasionally, which made for some beautiful and dramatic backdrops to our runs, until late afternoon when it closed in too much and became foggy (so we gave up – the snow was too soft anyway):


Overally I’d look forward to a stopover in Santiago again and would definitely explore more of the skiing if I landed there in the winter. With more time we would have explored some of Patagonia and visited Mendoza (in Argentina, but closer to Santiago than most major Argentinian hubs) – but we’re on a schedule to get home now, so we had to move on.

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