A Travellerspoint blog



Wandering Santiago, skiboarding Valle Nevado and La Parva, surfing Pichilemu

snow 0 °C

Peru was THE BEST but we couldn’t stay there forever and after 2.5 months it was time to give the next South American country a visit, CHILE!
Santiago is one of South America’s largest cities with some 5.2 million inhabitants. The megacity is centered by a colonial core and grand Plaza de Armas. We decide on La Casa Roja from the list of hostels provided by our Lonely Planet guide - and it turns out it is owned by Aussies, it has a restaurant called the Platypus, and half the staff including the bar manager are AUSSIES!! It was good to share travel stories with fellow country persons and this hostel was pretty cool, at the beginning anyway. It was a HUGE mansion renovated into a HUGE party pad. It had a bar open until 4am, a pool that we didn’t swim in, too cold, but people were jumping in at 5am, an ultra large kitchen that let up to anywhere between 15-20 people cook at once, large dorm rooms with ultra high ceilings, an inhouse travel agency, wifi, bla bla bla the list goes on and on and on.
Our first mission here - locate an Olympus dealer and have our broken camera assessed ASAP. A disposable camera was also purchased and needed to take photos with a trip to the snow and also to the coast on the cards.
The parties continued when we met a bunch of chaps from Melbourne. Lively bunch of boys on tour. Things got pretty loose when we caught some live local music in a warehouse around the corner and stayed up till sunrise.
After 5 days of exploring the city and partying with the chaps our camera was finally diagnosed - $400 (Aus) to get prepared and the part had to be ordered in from Miami and this could take several weeks?!?!?!? OK. I don’t think so. We get a letter explaining this for travel insurance and head straight out to find a replacement. Nowhere had the water proof travellers camera in Santiago.
There are three major Chilean ski resorts within an hr of the capital and it is that easy, and cheap, to do day trips. We head to Valle Nevado for some ski boarding (Jess skiing and Steve snowboarding) with a disposable camera and a spare canon powershot one of the Melbourne chaps lent to us THANKS LUKE, YOU’RE A LEGEND MATE!
Jess had skied once, for 2 days, and that was 8 yrs ago. I had boarded once, for 3 days, and that was 13 years ago. AND HERE WE ARE BOOTING UP TO SKIBOARD IN THE CHILEAN ANDES!! If you ever find yourself in Chile - go to the snow. Its about a 1/3 of the price at home and from my only experience in Thredbo atleast 3 times as good.
Nursing our sore legs and bruised bodies we tossed and turned on what else we should do in Chile. Head south to Patagonia - middle of winter, ahhh to cold. Go to vineyards - ahh you can do that at home plus its pricey in Chile. Move onto Argentina?? Nope we head straight to a small fishing village called Pichilemu, 3hrs by bus SW of Santiago. We were meant to stay here for a few days, we stayed here for a 1 and half weeks. We met Marcel from Holland, Oliver from Switzerland, Martha from Chile, and Anton and Zinger from the states. Marcel owns Pichilemu beach hostel (the boat) and provides great hospitality and insight into the surrounding waves. Oliver was living in the boat and introduced us to Anton and Zinger who were staying at Los Dos Soles owned by Martha…..
We end up spending most of our time in a bargain brick villa next door to Anton in Martha’s place. Surfing the 3 lefts on offer - Pichilemu Pt, Infernillos, and Punta de Lobos. Between surfs walking (6km) between Punta de Lobos and Pichilemu. Taking shelter from wild storms in Anton’s place next to the fire drinking carrot and ginger fruit juice cocktails. And keeping warm.
The surf ranged from 3ft to 15-18ft. The water a chilly 12 degrees - Steve only had a 3/2 but hired hood, gloves and booties. The crowds - it was just you and the sea life - seals and birds and seals and birds….
Steve tried to paddle out on the 15-18ft day. He stood on the rocks waiting to be shouted out in a lull. A foam ball washes him across a few rocks. He emerges from the white water with a big smile but crapping himself. The hoot is given - WOOOOOO jump! Oops out of the mist a freak set appears and it drills Steve to the beach some 600m down from the jump off. ‘Far out was that the biggest set of the day what happened to sending me out in a lull? I nearly lost my hood and board duck diving and I think I was a wave or 2 from drowning!’ The 2 red bull tow in guys continued to get the sets, but with dings all over his board Steve was defeated as the side shore crept in. We walked home and giggled about making phase 1 - jumping off and paddling through the gap in rocks, but yeah phase 2 - making it out, nope not today. But he did the next day, the only one out and a little smaller at 8-10ft. And that was our time in Pichilemu. We said our goodbyes to everyone and hopped on a bus back to Santiago in time for a dump of powder. Looking back over our shoulders at Pichilemu township as the bus struggled to get up the hill we’d been to a very special place.

Back in Santiago, La Casa Roja, we book ourselves for one more day in the snow, this time it was powder, and too much powder as Valle Nevado resort was closed and we had to divert to La Parva. HA! Both of us had NEVER ski boarded powder and it took us several cartwheel stacks to get our powder feet - in which you end up ¾ buried sometimes upside down! Pulling yourself out of powder was hard work, then ‘snailing’ across to a slope to get moving again. TIP: don’t loose your speed on powder. TIP2: try not to fall off a T bar next to a black run.

WOOOHOOO Chile was great. One day ski boarding, the next surfing, then back to ski boarding. Again it was time to pack our lives into our packs and move onto Buenos Aires, Argentina where we had lined up some work in a hostel and made plans for Iguazu Falls.

Posted by jessnsteve 03:34 Archived in Chile Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Northern Chile

Short visits through San Pedro de Atacama and Arica


After 3 days and nights in the Bolivian desert it was time to have a shower and wash some clothes phooooeeee! We cross the border into Northern Chile and head to the closest town, San Pedro de Atacama.
At 2440m above sea level and surrounded by volcanoes San Pedro’s town square and adobe houses preserve a colonial feeling despite the hoards of outa towners stopping by for a short visit before taking on the adventures available in the surrounding terrain. The town felt like a bit of a tourist trap as the fumes coming off the credit card thickened with the elevated prices…...
We enjoy an evening or two wondering around cobble stone streets, snacking lightly in cafes, but get the next bus to Arica, a coastal town 20km from the Peruvian border, a site where Chile and Peru battled in the war of the Pacific. There was a strong army presence in Arica.
Steve was chasing a nice swell but was boardless having left his boards in Lima for the whole Inca trail trip thing. ‘It’ll be right I’ll be able to rent a board and a wetty, could maybe even buy me a ¾ steamer cause I’ll need it when we get to Chile yeah!?’ he says. Well I’ll let him tell the story from now on in……
Yes not a good idea but anyway as you can see from the above pictures Arica was going off the day we arrived. Offshore!!! 6ft?? 4 guys out??????????. Was hard to tell how big it was and how many people were out but I think I could see 4 dots on the peak.....Get me a board and a wetty I AM OUT THERE!
8hrs later I was still boardless, and slightly psychotic would probably be an understatement. The search started by meeting the guru of Arica, a big wave charger, can’t remember his name, who hobbled around the house holding his back going ‘aw man yesterday was pumping’ and….’dude they’re my babies sorry I can’t lend 1 to you it might snap…’ Ok….I stormed off going ‘sheesh not even the old yellow one!’ ummmm, I get back to our hostel and am asked by the hostel manager, who spoke in Spanish of course, ‘Como estas?’ Well not so good today. I explained to him in my spanglish the current, very desperate situation and it turns out he was holding a 6’6 rounded pin for an AUSTRALIAN girl who was down the coast a few hrs - He calls her to see if I can borrow it - ALRIGHT put her on the dogs bone I’ll talk to her, fellow Ausie should be easy right! But not alright. She didn’t pick up.

I tried surfboard shops - they had boards to rent but without fins, I tried Mr ‘but they’re my babies’ big wave charger for fins - nope sorry. AND still no answer with the Australian girl after 4 attempts.

FOR 8HRS we searched for rent-a-board dudes on adjacent beaches, back and forth between surf shops and locals and our hostel and we must have covered about 12kms. What did I do to deserve this torture the surf was cranking!? What ever it was I was defeated. I could have bought a board but the arvo had gone onshore so we just sat and watched it……

Wow Steve was not in a good mood, and ended up putting me in an even worse mood with all his 'I didn't surf Arica' blues. The next day he went for a jog really early to blow off some steam and we didn’t sleep well. He returned as we woke up..... ‘3-4ft pumping and no one out, lets get the f&^k outa here’ he grumbled. And we did, we all got a ride in the coolest collectivo ever across the boarder and then caught the next bus to Arequipa - Peru’s second largest and possibly most beautiful city.

Anyone for some choco bum snacks or some freshly squeezed frog juice?

Posted by jessnsteve 03:33 Archived in Chile Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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