Travelling from the Atacama Desert in the north of Chile to Santiago has been a beautiful trip down the Chillean coast. Heading out of San Pedro we decided to head for Bahia Iglesa going on a tip from a local lady in San Pedro, it turned out to be a small beachy town about 11 hours down the coast in a cosy semi-cama night bus.
I had asked the driver to let us know when we got to the closest stop to Bahia Iglesia. It was 6am when the weary eyed driver looked over at me and asked if I was sure I wanted to get off here… on the outskirts of the tiny town of Caldera, which looked more like the outskirts of nowhere. I nodded hesitantly… we were the only ones. I snuck past other sleeping travellers and stumbled out of the bus door and onto the side of the road… the bus pulled away, leaving a small cloud of dust and 2 travellers.
It was desolate, everyone was asleep, and we were standing hazy eyed on the side of the road, backpacks in tow, with no idea of where to go. I had nothing but the name of the town in my hand. Take a picture of the backpacker.
As luck would have it a taxi came driving by after 5 minutes and it was only a 15 minute drive to Bahia Iglesa. We were droped off on the beach, I was tired and a cossy bed was all that was on my mind. As it turned out the cossy bed came at quite the expense at 7am in the one hotel that was open.
We had 3 days in Bahia Iglesa and unfortunately it was overcast and windy the whole time. So we spent our time chilling out and eating hamburgers in a dome restaurant right on the beach. The beach has beautifull white sand and I can imagine it getting quite packed come mid summer. I noticed collectivos here are quite different. In Boliviaa collectivo is generally a minivan packed full with people and works kind of like a bus. Here a collectivo was a taxi that took 4 people at a time to various places between Caldera and Bahia Iglesa. Our last few hours in Caldera were spent hanging out with a homeless dog in the bus shelter waiting for our late nightbus to Valpariso.
Valpariso is another 12 hours south along the coast. Again we arrived hazey eyed but at a more resonable hour of the morning. Valparaiso is a port town, and about 2 hours north of Santiago. It’s known for its arty vibe, having an amazing amount of stray dogs on the streets, and some brilliant graffiti.
Valpariso is built on cliffs so there are loads of staircases, winding roads and back alleyways. Perfect for exploring. It also has privately run elevators in the streets to take you up a level rather than draggin yourself up the multitude of stairs.
Our time in Valparaiso was spent hiking through the streets, taking in the views, checking out the graffiti, and buying fresh fish in the markets.
A two hour drive south and we finally reached Santiago, Chile’s capital.
Santiago could be any European city. It’s modern, has lush green parks and gorgeous architecture, a great train system, and I felt safer than being in London. We did the regulatory walking tour, for which I accidently wore a strangers underware the entire day. They somehow landed in my washing and looked just like mine, only were 2 sizes too big. Not the best recipe for a comfortable days walking.
We stayed at La Casa Roja, the most amazing hostel I’ve ever stayed in. It’s a big airy hostel with loads of space, has a big pristine blue swimming pool (complete with bar in the pool), surrounded by a grassy outdoor area. Perfect for a few days of sunshine. So, other than the walking tour I spent my time lazing by the pool and making friends. We had one big night out at a Salsa bar with a group of people from the hostel, where a few of the locals were great and taught us all to dance (while being incredibly gentlemanly).
Chile, what a gorgeous country. With it’s slim coastline, good vibes, earthy feel, sophisticated yet adventurous nature… If I was a man I’d marry you.
Now onto Patagonia…