Despite the long flight time, our arrival in Santiago, Chile was a cake-walk. We were greeted at the airport by Tania, a friend of Dave's family. Previously when Tania was living in the US, she had been a home health aide for Dave's dad and had become very close to the entire family. Later, when Tania returned to Chile, we promised to visit if our travels took us to South America. So Dave followed through on that promise and we stayed for a few days with Tania and Gilbert and used their apartment as a home-base for travel in and around Santiago. What fantastic hosts!
On our first day in Santiago, she organized a Chilean BBQ so we could meet her daughter-in-law's family. If you have never eaten at a Chilean BBQ, you are missing out on a feast that compares to Thanksgiving. The food eaten, over many hours, included salads, rice, potatoes, beef, chicken, sausage and of course Chilean wine.
Quick to open the first bottle ...
... then the second or third bottle.
By the time the BBQ ended, we had finished off 5 or 6 bottles.
Needless to stay we had a great time... fine wine, amazing food, and wonderful friends.
Luckily, there was a Dunkin' Donuts shop around the corner from their apartment. It came in handy the next morning.
We didn't spend much time in Santiago since our trip was focused on exploring the Andes around Santiago, taking a trip to the city of Valparaiso, and hiking in Patagonia. Here are a few pictures from our walk around Santiago.
El Morado National Monument Hike & Colina Hot Springs (9 miles)
El Morado Natural Monument is a Chilean park located in the Cajón del Maipo region about 90 km outside of Santiago. One of the main attractions is the hike to the San Francisco glacier lookout and the Morales Glacier pond. The hike began in the village of Baños Morales (6200 feet elevation) but climbed rapidly to give stunning views of the Andes.
After the initial steep climb from the village, the trail leveled off and you had a clear view of Cerro San Francisco and the glacier.
Once at the Morales Glacier pond, it was time to sit back and enjoy the views at 8200 feet.
Next up was a drive over unpaved mountain roads to the Colina Hot Springs. The perfect location to soak our muscles and admire the snow-capped Andes peaks surrounding the thermal baths heated by the San José Volcano. The 7 thermal pools at Colina are organized in stepped terraces with water temperatures varying from 86F to 120F.
Click to be redirected to our next Chilean destination: Valparaiso