Renting a car was a great way to see a part of Chile that would have been difficult to access by bus. We spent a little less than a week exploring small towns, touring wineries and hiking in national parks. Unfortunately, we found that finding sleeping accommodations was a bit challenging. Hotels and hostels that are off the tourist track often don’t have web pages or any other way to book online. This proved to be a problem in the first night after we dropped Lisa’s sister off at the airport and continued south to a small town called Buin. We walked around the downtown and then drove up and down streets to try and find a place to stay. Finally, we pulled into fast food restaurant and asked if anyone knew of a hostel in town. After much debate (about whether or not there was any place to stay in town) we were directed to a hotel located on a side street not to far away. Though the facility was not any nicer than most of the places we had been staying recently it was more than double the cost. Alas, it was late so we had few other options.
The next couple days consisted of driving around back roads to find poorly marked wineries, who may or may not offer wine tastings. We had several picnics of bread, cheese, avocado, and olive oil while pulled off on the side of the road or under a tree. We were amazed by how closely the scenery resembled that of central California. We visited the Maipo, Maule, and Curico wine regions. We met many enthusiastic wine lovers working in the different wineries. The central wine region of Chile was much warmer than the coastal region that we had visited with Lisa’s sister. The central region was known for grapes such as Pais (mission), Carmenere, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon where the coast was known for white wines, sparkling wines, and Pinot Noir.
We spent a few nights in a hostel in the town of Talca, as it was a great jumping off point to visit Parque National Lircay. To get to the entrance gate of the park we drove for a couple hours including about half an hour down a dirt road. From the gate it was another 2 km on foot to get to the rangers station where we registered as day hikers. We had read up on the park before we arrived so we knew that the two hikes we were interested in doing were to a lake high in the mountains and to a vista point that would give us sweeping panoramic views. Both hikes were recommended as full-day hikes, so self-assured as we were of our hiking ability, we decided to try to finish both in one day. Unfortunately, our navigational skills were not up to par and the signs on the trail were not the clearest, so we found ourselves at a river about an hour and a half into our hike. Though the river was beautiful we knew from the photocopied rudimentary map that we had picked up at the ranger station that it was the not direction that we wanted to be going.
So we backtracked to return to the main trail and set out in the correct direction. We knew we would have daylight until after 8pm but we also knew that driving the 30 to 40 minutes down the dirt road would be much easier with daylight, so we ramped up our pace for the remainder of our hike. The trail was beautiful with a variety of different types of terrain. The sweeping views of the mountains were breathtaking, as was the view we had when we reached the crest that surrounded the lake.
The trail itself was on the more strenuous side. Most of our time was spent on a sloped trail, either going up or going down. According to Lisa’s FitBit we walked more than 20 miles, climbing up the equivalent of more than 600 flights of stairs. Unfortunately, climbing that many flights of stairs also meant that we needed to hike back down again. As we were racing against daylight and walking much quicker than we should have, we were painfully reminded that we are getting older and that our knees (particularly Kevin’s) can’t take quite as much abuse as they used to. Needless to say, we were very happy when we arrived back at kilometer 0 and even happier to get to the car!
From Talca we made our way back to Santiago, stopping for one night in Rancagua. For the last few countries that we have visited we have not bought SIM cards for our phone, so for each new place that we would go we would pre-load maps into our phones. Prior to heading out from Rancagua we loaded the map and the directions to the rental car lot in Santiago. We made it to the outskirts of Santiago before the google maps app crashed and we lost our map and directions to where we were going. Luckily, we had both looked at the map and we were returning the car to the same location from where we had picked it up. We made only one wrong turn which unfortunately put us on a different freeway with no easy way to turn around. The trip only took us a little ways in the wrong direction but we had given ourselves plenty of time to return the rental so this wouldn’t have stressed us out… Except that as we are trying to turn around the gas light came on. We managed to correct our course and find a gas station when we exited the freeway on the correct side of Santiago where we confirmed directions to the rental car company. All in all we were proud of our navigation skills when technology failed us.
We are now looking forward to a couple of days in Santiago without having to drive a car, find parking or a new hostel to stay in every night.
***NOTE*** Unfortunately, as well all know, nothing in life is free. This is as true for blogging as any other aspect of life. With this post we will have used up our capacity of free storage space for photos on our blog. As we are poor travelers at the moment and can’t afford to pay wordpress, we will be creating a new blog address for the remainder of our trip. To continue reading about our adventures please go to:
For those of you following our blog you will have to re-register to follow this blog if you want to continue receiving email updates when we post new blog entries (ok we know that this is really only our parents).