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A Holiday to Chile with Clare and Hughie

For photos of the recent trips, please click the links below.

10th - 20th January 2011

24th - 3rd February 2011

Day 1:It has been a superb start to 2011, we met our first group in Santiago and spent the first evening acclimatising in the pool of the Ritz Carlton on the 15th floor overlooking the city. Some had massages, others Pisco sours before a sensational evening of crisp Sauvignon Gris and fresh ceviches.

Day 2:We have walked Santiago, had lunch amidst the tranquility of Vitacura at the San Cristobal Polo Club, everyone is getting on so well and we arrived into the foothills of the Andes south of Santiago just in time for tea and a swim overshadowed by the 2nd tallest bourganvillea.

Day 3:Our horse drawn carriage took us to the Santa Rita winery for a guided tour through the vineyards and around the estate. We had the opportunity to go around a very well done private museum of Chilean history followed by a picnic under the shade of the trees in the stunning gardens of Casa Real.  A wine tasting of some of the sensational Santa Rita wines help set the evening off to a good start that continued with folkloric Austrian songs and dancing on the chairs.

Day 4:After a hearty breakfast of eggs and bacon we drove South to the fruitlands of Chile. We had a private visit of Cenkiwi fruit packing and saw the meticulous selection of plums before they get packaged up and sent to China and Tesco in the UK! A delicious lunch with Chilean friends, slow barbecued beef, empanadas and plenty of red wine.  We continued on to the home of chef Ruth and her husband Vicente where we spend the next 2 nights.

Day 5:There are the most beautiful gardens here with the backdrop of the Andes to marvel at.  Ruth gave a superb and very hands on cooking demonstration where we learnt how to make seafood empanadas, Chilean fish soup with a spicy pebre salsa and for pudding papaya mousse. All of which we devoured at lunch. All of the ingredients are picked fresh from the organic vegetable garden which only makes it taste better.  The afternoon was spent swimming and sun bathing before a bike ride to the oldest rodeo ring in Chile.

Day 6:A big day’s travelling today to get to the Aysen Region in Northern Patagonia. The scenery in this part of Patagonia is beautiful, so majestic and totally unspoilt.  We arrived in the late afternoon at the lodge to be welcomed by Pisco sours and the most incredible view of Lake General Carrera with its turquoise glacial waters.

Day 7:A walk for some, a ride for others to see the glaciers of the Northern Ice Field.  The air is so clean here that a rare lichen covers all the trees.  A lovely lunch and then a walk down to the beach in the afternoon.  Sadly the prize for total submersion in the 6C waters of the lake was not won! A Patagonian lamb barbecue for supper cooked by the gaucho over a slow fire for 5 hours, it melted in your mouth.

Day 8:A boat ride this morning to see the marble caves, beautiful colours and great fun to be out on the water.  The boatmen took us through caves that have been carved out millions of years ago.  The men went on a fishing excursion whilst the ladies walked and put the world to rights over a glass of Chilean sauvignon blanc.

Day 9:A visit to the Baker River, the fastest flowing river in Chile, which they are threatening to dam, the power and beauty of this natural phenomenon is wonderful.  A coffee stop on the way home to find perhaps the best chocolate cake ever… who would have thought it!!  Our final evening with Paula and her team

Day 10:We made our way back along the Austral Highway to catch our flight to Santiago. We arrived in time for a swim and siesta on the roof. The red carpet and security were out on mass as the Peruvian President was also staying and was a wonderful spectacle to see him there. We spent our final supper sitting outside and enjoying the last evening with our first Chilean group.

Day 11:An emotional goodbye as we all head our separate ways, to Buenos Aires, to the Atacama Desert and Hughie and I to stay in Santiago before our next group arrives on Monday.