You don’t have to travel to Australia to go “down under.” Chile is an exotic place for many people and for good reason. Home to fine wine and gorgeous natural scenery, it’s no wonder it’s a hot vacation spot for many Americans. South America is also known for its ancient culture. Roughly 10,000 years ago, this area was settled by migrating native Americans. If you’re planning a trip to the southern Hemisphere, don’t miss any of the good stuff. Here’s what you absolutely must see:
These vineyards are huge, covering over 40,000 acres of land. The winery is considered “eco-friendly,” using goats, sheep, and alpaca as insect control. Because of this, the vineyard doesn’t use pesticides. As far as the wine is concerned, whites are sen through a double-selection process. It might seem strange, but only women are allowed to choose the grapes that go into them because of their focus and attention to detail.
Red wine is made from the entire grape while whites are made just from the juice of the grape. The process is intensive and requires strict temperature control. This is what allows the winery to produce varietals that include a nearly clear Sauvignon Blanc.
This winery is family owned and operated. It began in 1935, and has been in operation in Valle de Colchagua, which is just outside of Santiago. Just because it’s a family-owned operation, doesn’t mean that it’s “mom and pop.” The winery has taken advantage of technology to create three different categories of wine.
The first, El Incidente, was first blended in 2007. It consists of 85 percent Carmenere mixed with Petit Verdot and Malbec. The result is a spicy, mocha, and blueberry flavored wine that has the flavor pulled out of it from the aging process – a 21 month soak in French oak barrels.
Another place you should visit is the Viña Maipo, founded in 1948. It’s located in the oldest wine-growing area of Chile. Here, you can buy pretty much anything you want. Cheap wines. Expensive wines. It runs the gamut – and they serve an international market. The grapes come from a vine that’s almost 18 years old – resulting in a wine that has an intense color and aroma.
Once you’re liquored up, it’s time to take a walk in the desert. Seriously though, this is probably one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chile aside from Easter Island. The Atacama Desert is the driest, as well as the highest (above sea level) desert in the world. There’s plenty of sand and rock here, with little vegetation. Unique rock formations and stunning landscape are the reason you come here. Example: the salt flats. They’re an hour outside of San Pedro de Atacama. There are places where you can find a small oasis surrounded by a beautiful formation of rock, salt, and sand.
It’s a little touristy, but Easter Island is one of the most isolated places on Earth so it’s worth checking out just for the “cool factor.” Traveling around the island is actually quite easy. Most people bike around it. The only flights in and out of the islands are on LAN Airlines. Oh yeah, while you’re there, check out the cool statues. They’re supposed to be great.
Jodie Bishop has extensive experience as a travel consultant. Her articles mainly appear on travel blogs where she enjoys sharing her insights and travel tips. Visit Travelstart for more travel ideas and destinations.