Winter W Trek – Day IV

Refugio Paine Grande (Pehoe) to Glaciar Grey
Distance: 26 km round trip
Time: 8.5 hours

Next to Day I, Day IV was my favorite day of the W-Trek. I’m not sure if I enjoyed it more because I knew it was our last “real” day of trekking or because it was just so genuinely fun. It was super hard but it was also just so rewarding.

We started right at sunrise (8:23 am) which was breathtaking. I grew up in Southern California which has the most amazing sunrises and sunsets but this was otherworldly.

The above picture seriously was taken and posted with zero filter. Look at those colors!

The one thing we really missed out on is seeing a puma. We saw puma tracks, poop, we even smelled their urine…yet we never saw one. Maybe it was for the best…

This marker shows you just how much we climbed. This picture was taken at Laguna Los Patos (Duck Lagoon) and we weren’t even half way there.

Walking towards Glacier Grey.

Getting closer…

We made it just in time for lunch – with a view of course.

After we were done with lunch Mauricio snuck away. At first I didn’t know what he was doing but then I quickly realized he was trying to grab a piece of glacier ice that was floating close to shore.

Success!

We each took turns holding it…

Feeling so cool.
Okay, this is super cold
I’m freezing!!!

Little did I know that Amber had been carrying some Woodford Reserver Bourboun in her pack the whole time. She busted some out and we poured it over 1,000 year old ice. The Nalgene was passed around a few times…

As if the first close up we had wasn’t enough we climbed another small hill and got THIS view…Spencer and I did our best Captain Zissou.

The fam.

Glaciar Grey
Refugio Grey (we didn’t stay here as they close for the winter but it looked awesome).

Great way to keep your energy up while trekking – jerky! We declared these when we got into the country and it was no problem to bring them in. We brought different kinds of jerky but these Epic bars were amazing!

Finally made it back!

Sadly our last dinner in Patagonia…

Day four was amazing and a great way to end the hike.

xoxop

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Winter W Trek – Day III

Los Cuernos to Campamento Italiano to Valle Frances to Refugio Paine Grande (Pehoe)
Distance: 18 km
Time: 7 hours

Okay so day three was actually interesting because we saw a lot of different things. We trekked from Los Cuernos into Campamento Italiano where we dropped some of our things (hung them up so no animals could get to them). From Campamento Italiano we headed into Valle Frances (French Valley) and then back to Campamento Italiano to pick up our things. From there we headed to Refugio Paine Grande aka Refugio Pehoe.

Per usual, we started the morning with delicious eggs, bread and coffee at Los Cuernos.

We started the hike covered up because it was raining from the moment we woke up. Light rain but rain nonetheless. The start of the hike was right along the beach of the lake which was gorgeous.

Maurizio walking us through what was ahead. 

What was cool about this day is all the different terrain we covered. We hiked in rain, hail, and snow. We went through bridges, planks, rocky areas and even a vertical wooden bridge (think a ladder with a slight incline).

Made it to Campamento Italiano to drop our things for a few hours and keep going.

Taking a breather before getting to the best view point.
You can see how far we climbed if you look at Lago Nordenskjöld in the background.
Made it!

We made it to the furthest view point we could get to (weather wasn’t ideal to keep going). To the left you can see the Hanging Francés Glacier.

To the right you can see (from left to right) Cerro Espada, Cerro Hoja, Cerro Mascara, with Cuerno Norte partially visible on the far right.

Another one of Hanging Francés Glacier
Hongos!
Headed back to grab our things.

This bag made us super happy every day. It was always full of snacks, fruit, chocolate and a delicious sandwich.

Spencer and I both LOVE hot sauce. We put it on almost everything. That said, before the hike we knew we had to pack some sort of spicy something. We headed to the grocery store and picked up some of this Aji Pebre which is very popular in Chile. Pebre is made of coriander, chopped onion, olive oil, garlic and ground or pureed spicy aji peppers. Needless to say it really made our sandwiches. Even our guide Maurizio was excited we brought it.

Upkeep of planks is done by Patagonia. Sometimes it rains a lot and its impossible to cross without getting soaked so these planks are helpful.

Still have a ways to go!

This part of the W Trek made me super sad. Back in 2011 an insanely irresponsible hiker who claims he tried to burn some toilet paper and it flew away from his hands started a fire in the park . The fire affected 40,000 acres of the park and you can see its devastating effects.

It’s important when visiting parks like this to LNT (leave not trace). You should be able to visit these areas but also respect the fact that they should be left untouched so generations to come can also enjoy…

Taking a break to enjoy the view.

Approaching Refugio Paine Grande

General prices if you’re booking on your own.

This Refugio was my second favorite (after Los Cuernos) because it really felt like a Lodge. It had a nice hang out area where we played dominoes and of course Maurizio schooled us.

Best part – because we were hiking in the off season we had the whole place to ourselves! Besides the people working the Refugio there were only ones there the first night.

This may have been my favorite dinner because it reminded me of my moms Carne con Chile. Mmm…

…and an amazing dessert!

 

xoxop

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Winter W Trek – Day II

Refugio Central to Los Cuernos
Distance:  11 km
Time: 4.5 hours

So, part of the beauty of our trip booked with Chile Nativo is that they covered all of our meals. This meant, breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was afraid that we would be limited to granola bars and such but I mean….is breakfast without eggs even breakfast? No! So, we were very lucky that each and every breakfast we ate included a dose of lovely huevos, fresh made bread (Chileans don’t mess around with their bread) and aji (a delicious salsa).

Food hall at Refugio Central.

After getting through Day I we felt pretty good about starting Day II. The hike was more of a walk we were told so post breakfast we headed out bright and “early” at 9:25 am

Along the route you’ll see a lot of markers like the one above. This makes it helpful to stay on track and know you’re moving towards the right direction.

Stopped for a quick picture. Look at those mountains!

The refugio was nestled right at the foot of Los Cuernos…<3
Almost to the refugio! Lago Nordenskjöld behind us.

Checking in
:p

The amazing refugio cook preparing our dinner!
We were tempted but then…

Part of what made our trip amazing was the people we hiked with. Our guide, Maurizio, as you’ll keep hearing through these posts, was incredible! After we dropped our things off at our room he busted out a bottle of wine he had been carrying along the whole time!!! I mean…I could barely hold my pack I’m not sure how he had that and a few other goodies the whole time.

The fam!

After we had a few glasses of wine and settled in at the refugio we decided to explore a little while there was still light out. We walked around the grounds of the refugio.

As you trek around you’ll see some bushes with the amazing Calafate berries on them. They were SO good and of course totally safe to eat.

This place even had a wood fire hot tub!

 

Wishing we could stay in one of these adorable little cabins but really can’t complain…
Spencer filling up on some glacier drinking water.

We went down to take a closer took of Lago Nordenskjöld – the color of the water is unreal. The reason the lake is so bright is because of the mineral content and lack of aquatic life! Incredibly, there are no fish in the lake.

You can see how windy it was closer to the water…

Immediately after this we headed back in for dinner…the most amazing stew you will ever have. Again, some fresh made bread, butter and peaches with chocolate syrup.

xoxop

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Winter W Trek – Day I

Refugio Central to Base Las Torres
Distance: 18 km roundtrip
Time: 7 hours

We started with what was probably the hardest (although not longest) hike. Mentally, we were prepared and physically I guess we didn’t do so bad. Our guide, Maurizio, seemed impressed with how well we did but I wonder if he told us this to keep us going.

Of course our first day was also insanely impressive. We saw so many amazing sights and were able to taste the fresh Patagonian glacier water for the very first time. The most amazing part of this is that you don’t need a filter. We were able to put our Klean Kanteen right in the streams and fill them with ice cold water. Maurizio recommended waiting to fill with water until we got a little further up the trail because sometimes the lower area has horse poop – good recco, M!

The first part of the trail was pretty steep. We used our hiking poles pretty much the whole time and at one point we even encountered some snow! So, cue snow cleats! Honestly, snow spikes/cleats were my least favorite thing of this whole trip. They were hard to put on and they hurt my hands when i put them on…but they were SO helpful! There is no way we could’ve made it up and down that mountain without them.

Taking of at 9:22 am

Refugio El Chileno

Scouts Honor Beavers
Quick check in to confirm we weren’t about to die

The lovely people at the Refugio packed us some pretty delicious lunches every day…not pictured (inside the paper bag) was an amazing smoked salmon, cream cheese and tomato sandwich that our guide Maurizio threw in for us. He was (is!) the best!

Right before this picture was taken we were hiking in high wind next to a steep drop. Maurizio told us that if we ever felt like we were going to blow over we should dig in our hiking poles and crouch down! Very helpful info…

Amber living her best life.

There’s a moment right before you know you’re about to hit the base where you think “okay…is this really worth it?” and then this happens:

Spencer made a bird friend.
Started from the bottom now we here!

The way back was actually super easy…we were able to take our time a little more as we knew what was ahead of us…

El Gaucho…so cool to see.

Day I was an absolute success. I loved every minute of it.

xoxop

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Patagonia – What You Need to Pack!

Patagonia has been a long time dream…just not mine.

When Spencer told me he wanted to visit Chile I didn’t think much of it. I honestly found it to be a chore of a trip to make him happy. I was so so wrong.

The first leg our trip was to Santiago and then Patagonia. I had heard of the W Trek before, the 5 day 4 night hike through the Chilean portion of Patagonia. However, I always thought this would be something we would conquer later in life, never something we would do so soon! So, with two weeks to prep before our trip I started to do some intense research of what was needed for this hike. The longest hike either one of us has ever done.

Our hiking trip was booked through Chile Nativo, who coordinates all your shelters, food and transportation to and from Torres Del Paine National Park – I’ll elaborate on their services in the next post and tell you where you need to go and how to get there in order to visit the park. So, given most logistics were taken care of I knew all we needed to bring was our gear. But what gear? We didn’t own any.

I knew that since we would be hiking the Winter W Trek we would need a lot of layers to keep us warm. We were in Patagonia May 23-27 which is the start of winter in Chile. I was able to look up the median temperature on The Weather Channel. They have great resources where you can look up last years records to get a better idea of what to expect. We had also heard the weather at that time could be fickle. Would we experience rain? Snow? Wind? All of the above? Ahhh!

I figured we should go straight to the experts so Spencer and I went to REI. With the help of their staff at the SoHo location and a lot of research we figured out what we needed:

FOR YOUR BODY
Base Layer – this is the first layer you will put on under everything. Hence the “base” name. I initially thought of getting the R.E.I. brand but we were already spending so much money on other layers that I wanted something more affordable. Uniqlo offers three great different options: HEATTECH, HEATTECH Extra Warm, and HEATTECH Ultra Warm. I found Extra Warm and Ultra Warm too heavy so I picked up the following for 5 days:

Tops:

Bottoms:

  • HEATTECH Leggings
  • HEATTECH Extra Warm Leggings (wore these the first day and they were way too warm under my trekking pants!).

**if you’re staying in a refugio (shelter) you will be able to give your base layers a quick rinse and dry over night***

Fleece – this was fairly simple as there are plenty of options out there. I love the price point and make of Columbia‘s product so I bought a Columbia Women’s Glacial Fleece Iii 1/2 Zip

Puffer – or as our guide, Mauricio, called it – “Puffy”. For this part of my layer I wanted to find something also a bit fashionable that I could wear under coats during winters in NYC. The Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Jacket  is perfect because it packs down to a small bag, weighs nothing, is extra warm and the silhouette is quite cool.

Shell – this is the last thing you layer on top of everything else. I needed something rainproof but again, I wanted something somewhat fashionable and functional. I tried a few jackets but ultimately went with REI Co-op Rhyolite Rain Jacket in Black. It’s cool looking and will definitely keep the water out!

Pants – I may have gone back and forth 20 times about really needing these – REI Co-op Activator Soft-Shell Pants – spoiler alert, you do NEED them. No offense to whoever designed these or whoever enjoys wearing them but it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to convince myself to spend money on. I mean, look at them. But did they keep me dry? You bet! And they also kept me looking incredibly not fly.

Beanie – I lose every single beanie I buy each season – no fail. I either drop it in the subway or I leave it a concert venue or something happens. So, I had to buy a new one for this trip. Again, trying to find something functional and fashionable was the goal. I found this awesome HERSCHEL SUPPLY CO. 2 Pack Quartz Beanie on Revolve – currently sold out but you can find it here. The best part is Spencer and I were able use these interchangeably so we killed two birds with one stone.

Warm Gloves – I can’t give you advise on which ones your should get because I failed miserably in this area…more below.

 

FOR YOUR FEET
Shoes – as we would be hiking in cold weather and my feet are easily cold I looked for something designed for hiking but also for winter. I tried the  Merrell Moab FST Ice+ Thermo Winter Hiking Boots and they were amazing! I didn’t get a single blister. They’re lined with faux shearling so my feet felt like they were on a bed of fluff the whole time. Mmmm..

Socks – just as important as your shoes, if not more, are your socks! You have to find breathable socks that will keep your feet dry and blister free. These MIRMARU Multi Performance Crew Socks were perfect! They were nice and padded so my feet felt like they were in a cloud.

 

GEAR – all rented
Hiking Poles – we rented these from Chile Nativo at $5 a day. I can’t imagine having done this hike without them. In the past when I’ve seen people use these I’ve though “Wow, they look silly…”  but as silly as they look, you will be happy you have them!

Snow Spikes – I kind of hated using these to be completely honest. They were absurdly uncomfortable and hard to get used to but hiking up and down a snowy mountain would not have been possible without them.

Head Lamps – we never used these because we started our hikes very early on and finished them before sunset (pro hikers!) but just in case you get stuck walking in the dark have this handy!

 

EXTRAS
Travel Towels – you will need a quick drying, lightweight towel. Trust me, you don’t want to add any unnecessary weight to your pack and you don’t want to carry around a wet towel from refugio to refugio. We bought The Friendly Swede Microfiber 2 Pack. Did they feel like a regular towel? No. Did they do the job? Yes.

Flip Flops – you will need these for the showers at the refugios. Fantastico Sur does a great job of keeping the bathrooms clean but why risk it? You don’t want food fungus while in another country. Even in your own country actually…

Sleeping Clothes – needless to say, bring some warm pants and a comfy tee shirt you can wear around the refugio after your daily hike and to sleep in. After hiking for 8-9 hours all you will want is a pair of sweatpants and comfy tee. I went with a pair of yoga pants and a long sleeve I picked up during our trip to Martha’s Vineyard last summer.

Moleskin – be sure to carry some of this just in case you start to feel a blister coming in. It helps with the friction your shoe/sock will cause in certain areas. I bought Dr. Scholl’s Moleskin Plus Padding but you really can pick up any brand. You will need a pair of scissors to cut the moleskin.

Basic First Aid Kit – this was super helpful to have. Luckily we didn’t really need it but if you find a small one with band aids, tweezers, scissors, eye drops, heat/cold packs, etc. bring it along! You never know.

Water Canteen – I have two of these and perhaps I have a slight bias because I went to college where this wonderful product was born but I carried with me my Classic 27 oz Klean Kanteen. You really don’t need anything bigger than that because you will have plenty of opportunities to refill with deliciously cold glacier water along the way.

Batteries/Phone Charger – in cold temperatures your batteries will quickly lose their juice. Pack a few extras just in case for your head lamp. Of course bring your phone charger because how else are you going to document everything?!

Sunglasses – pick up a cheap pair! You don’t want to make the same mistake I made and bring along your expensive beautiful Karen Walker sunnies that you’re too scared to use in fear of ruining.

Sunscreen – do not forget to bring sunscreen! Even if it’s not super sunny you need to protect your skin!

Basic Toiletries – just because you’re in the wilderness doesn’t mean you can’t get clean. All refugios have showers! Pack shampoo, body lotion, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, etc. Of course bring everything travel size. Again, the least amount of weight you can carry the happier you’ll be.

 

FOR YOUR GEAR
The final question was: “how am I going to carry all of this for FIVE full days without wanting to kill myself?”

The answer: REI Co-op Trail 40 Pack. I wasn’t in love with this backpack’s colorway to be honest. Sadly R.E.I. only offers the Women’s version in Graystone (purple), and Oregano (a very green Khaki). The Men’s version comes in Black (girls like Black too!) but it was too wide in the shoulder for me. I learned to love my Oregano color way after my friend Kenzie told me it reminded her of Troop Beverly Hills.

During the trek I became slightly obsessed with my backpack and ALL the awesome compartments it has. Since we were only doing 5 days we didn’t need more than 40 Lt. each. I was able to fill it but had enough room to still pack the daily lunch the refugio gave us every morning before our hikes. There are multiple zippers and compartments so I was always able to reach anything I needed. It was super comfortable and I never felt the weight of the backpack put any sort of strain on my back. It was all perfectly balanced on my waist.

 

THINGS I WISH I HAD…
Waterproof Gloves – I had a pair of gloves Spencer let me borrow but they were super bulky and definitely not waterproof. They kept my hands warm for the most part but I think I could’ve done better to be more comfortable

Cheap Sunglasses – as I said above, I had a nice pair I thought I would be able to use but when you need them is when there are rocks flying at you because of the strong wind. You don’t want to put a nice pair of sunnies through that.

Binoculars – I swear I would have seen a puma if only I had a pair…

Slippers – the refugios are warm but not warm enough to walk around in flip flops. I really wish I had a pair of warm slippers to give my feet a little extra comfort at the end of the day. Instead I had to rock the sock + flip flop look. Not my best moment.

 

THINGS I HAD AND NEVER USED…
Lock – you may need one in the summer due to the large number of people staying at the refugios but given there we were the only people at the refugios it was very unnecessary and heavy. If you do bring one a basic locker one will do the job.

Headphones – maybe I would’ve needed these if the refugios were packed with loud people or if I hated the group I was hiking with but I never used my headphones! I wanted nothing more than to hear the wind blow, the rain hit the ground, the water crashing on the rocks and chat with my hiking group.

Hairdryer – most refugios don’t have power outlets because they want to discourage people from using too much electricity – absolutely fair and great for the environment! I also never actually needed it because I was showering at night after our treks. By morning my hair was dry.

Makeup – I was a little silly to think I would need this…I did use my daily powdered foundation and blush as an extra source of sunscreen but I don’t know why I brought lipstick along!

 

Next post I’ll tell you how to get to Patagonia, what buses you need to take, how to book them and where to stay!

 

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Santiago, Chile

The vibrant capital city of Chile lies perched beneath the Andes. Although at times smog covered this charming and expansive city offers wonderful sites, sounds and especially food.

View from Cerro Santa Lucía

We spent two full days in Santiago, but honestly, I wish we had at least three. We managed to make the most of our stay but there were definitely a few areas I wish we would’ve explored more of. The people were warm and the food delicious. Not only that, most areas of the city offer stunning views of the Andes. At times we would be walking in the park and all of a sudden there they were. Big and beautiful! Below you can find our favorite places to eat, drink and visit in Santiago.

WHERE TO STAY
We settled on Barrio Lastarria after speaking to our friend Yaisa, who lived in Chile for three years. It’s an incredibly vibrant and artistic neighborhood that offers amazing museums, restaurants, live performances and bars. Every few steps we took we ran into a street market, cute cafe or record store.

Street market in Lastarria

ACCOMODATIONS
Airbnb $ – of course usually the least expensive option. Here, here & here you can find a few good ones in Lastarria!

Hotel Cumbres Lastarria $$ – we stayed at a Cumbres hotel later on our trip but we walked by this location multiple times a day and admired the facade. It’s located steps from our favorite restaurant, Bocanariz, and Cerro Santa Lucia.

The Singular Santiago $$$ – The Singular is a family owned hotel that has facilities in both Santiago and Patagonia. Their hotels are absolutely stunning!

 

EATING/DRINKING
Bocanariz – José Victorino Lastarria 276, Santiago, Chile – our favorite restaurant in Santiago – we ate there two nights during out stay. Has an extensive wine list and delicious food. Best of all, it was located in the Lastarria neighborhood right around the corner from where we stayed.

Bocanariz – we tried Ritual’s Pinot Noir and loved it so much we actually went to the vineyard that produces it.

Bocanariz – Grilled salmon fillet, olive praline and gnocchi in carbonara sauce

La Fuente Alemana – multiple locations – Chile’s German heritage is noticeable all over the country, and this Santiago institution is a prime example. Named after a German Fountain around the corner from this location, LFA serves “lomito”. A pork shoulder sandwich that can be served in multiple ways. We shared an Italiano which is named after the Italian flag colors: tomato (red), mayo (white), avocado (green). I wondered why it’s not named the Mexicano…wouldn’t it make more sense as we Mexicans eat so much avocado…?

Lomito Italiano

Donde AugustoMercado Central | San Pablo 967, Santiago, Chile – we really stumbled upon this place on accident right after I just devoured my first completo.  Spencer wasn’t too fond of the mayo and avocado slathered dog so we had to find him something to eat. That’s how we found Donde Augusto. This massive place is located in the cavernous Mercado Central and  serves a long list of freshly caught seafood dishes.

Restaurante 040 – Calle Antonia López de Bello 040, Santiago, Chile – Truly a treat for all the senses. We had read was one of the top 50 restaurants in the world, we’d agree. They offer a prefix menu that was amazing.

La Bifería Av Pedro de Valdivia 065, Santiago, Chile – having a few hours to kill before our reservation to Restaurante 040 we found this place close to the base of San Cristóbal mountain. We only had a bottle of wine and a charcuterie and cheese plate, however both were great.

 

COFFEE SHOPS
Bloom Café (@bloomcafechile) – Merced 307, Santiago, Chile – while walking around I needed a little pick me up and I came across this spot. Complete with a friendly staff, this small yet adorable place made me the most delicious mocha.

Mocha…mmm!

Wonderland Café (@wonderlandlastarria) – Rosal 361, Santiago, Chile – this cafe was located literally right below where we were staying. We didn’t have time to eat there, but did get coffee a few times. Great service and cute spot but beware – iced coffee in Chile does not mean the same thing as in the US!

 

SIGHTSEEING
When traveling, we usually don’t focus a ton on sightseeing unless it’s something we specifically visit the city for. Instead, we tend to stick with walking around, exploring neighborhoods and eating the local cuisine. However, we did see a few things in Santiago we found worth recommending:

Cerro Santa Lucia – this park is on hill which was located very close to where we stayed in Lastarria. We decided to go our last day in Santiago and it was such a nice way to spend a relaxing Sunday. The fountain area unfortunately was closed but the whole park is beautiful and offers great views of the city!

Coat: Primary NYC Dress: Primary NYC Bag: Coach x Rodarte Shoes: Zara
Coach x Rodarte

 

Mercado Central – locals buy fresh seafood in this market but there are many seafood restaurants. This is where we ate at Donde Augusto!

Estación Funicular Pío Nono – this cable car is located at the base of San Cristobal Hill. The cable car runs up and down the hill. Once at the top you can enjoy panoramic view of the city and the Andes.

Plaza de Armas – this is the main historic square in Santiago. It offers views of beautiful buildings and gorgeous architecture dating back to Santiago’s earliest days as the city was built around this square.

 

 

All in all we loved Santiago SO much. I honestly would love to visit again.

 

xoxop

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Chile – Country Profile

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting some info on our trip to Chile. Before traveling to this amazing country I honestly didn’t know a lot about it. So, I made a little guide to help anyone planning to make their way down south!

HOW WE GOT THERE
There are plenty of ways to get to Santiago, Chile. Multiple airlines like American Airlines,  LATAM Airlines, Delta, and United fly direct. Flight costs can vary from $800 –  $1,000 or more. Spencer found us tickets for under $400 with AeroMexico (!!!). He booked way back in October through Kayak’s flexible date option. Our flight was NYC > Mexico DF (about 5 hours) and then Mexico DF > Santiago (about 8 hours). On the way there we had a 5 hour layover which allowed us to run out to Mexico City for some delicious Mexican breakfast. My sister recommended Sanborn’s Azulejos which is about a 30 min cab ride from the airport. It was perfect as we wanted a sit down meal where we could relax before our next leg.

VISAS FOR CHILE
If you’re an U.S. Citizen you don’t need to pre arrange a visa but upon entering Chile you’ll receive a paper that looks just like a receipt you would get at a restaurant. It’s called a PDI slip, and you will be asked for it at every single hotel you check into- so don’t lose it! This slip has all your information (name, passport, DOB, etc.), and should be kept with your passport as you’ll need to hand it back to customs before leaving the country.

PAYING FOR THINGS
Chile is a great balance of cash and credit card economy. As long as the credit card machine is working and you’ve pre arranged your travel with your bank you should have no problem. We each have the Chase Sapphire card, and were able to pay  as little as 1,000 CHP ($1.50) when using it. No need to reach a minimum and Chase Sapphire has no foreign transaction fees so it’s perfect for travel. ATM’s are also very accessible. Our cab driver suggested using one inside a gas station or a bank just to make sure you’re safe.

CHILEAN CURRENCY
The Chilean Peso is deceiving. For Americans, Chile is not a cheap country. I was expecting Patagonia to be expensive as it’s hard to get to and it’s “the furthest most part of the world”. However, I found that in general the exchange rate from USD to CHP was not working in our favor. $1.00 = 661.00 CHP which sounds like a lot but isn’t. Most things are priced just like in NYC. So, a drink could be 3,000 CHP ($4.50) for their cheapest or 9,000 CHP ($13.50) for a glass of wine. Of course you can find more price sensitive places but don’t think the food and drink quality isn’t amazing and worth it, because it is!

GETTING AROUND
Most places we went to were easily walkable which became our preferred mode of transportation. In addition, every city we went to was also accessible by taxi and Uber. We used a combination of both, but mostly Uber. However, we found out that due to restrictions in the country, Uber is only allowed to take you to the airport not from. To leave, you must use an official city taxi or a shuttle bus which are reasonably priced and easy to find.

INTERNET AND PHONES
Unless you have a plan that allows you to make international calls when traveling to a foreign country I would opt to put your phone on airplane mode and just use wifi. We were able to connect everywhere we went. Most restaurants have it for free and Chile even has public wifi at airports, bus stations and different areas in the cities.

NAVIGATION
Due to the abundance of free wifi, we were able to use Google Maps easily while there. Prior to driving, we would connect to wifi and load our route on Mps which became very helpful. If you’re not familiar with this concept, all you have to do is open Google Maps and ask for directions as you regularly would and then just don’t close the app. Once you’re in the car hit the Start Navigation arrow and Siri will give you directions! The blue location dot will move along with you. Sure, there may be a short lag but nothing to be bothered by!

SAFETY
We were warned by our cab drivers and a few people we met to be very careful. Honestly, I don’t know if it’s because we live in NYC but we never felt unsafe. Everyone we met was super sweet and helpful! Just be smart and act like you would in any major city.

WATER
We asked our server about water from the faucet the first night we had dinner and she was very honest. You CAN drink the water and most Chileans do but perhaps you wont love the taste. I tried it and have to agree, it was very minerally but it was fine for the time we were there. Spencer has a very sensitive stomach but was never upset by their water.

In a few days I’ll tell you all about Santiago!

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