Travel to Chile with Ker & Downey to discover the unique and charming country with private tours of the fascinating cities and lesser known wine regions. Ker & Downey’s Barrett Caldwell shares his thoughts from his recent trip.
Santiago was surprising – modern and sophisticated, with a clean downtown. It’s a wonderful city for walking and biking, as it’s nestled in a valley with the soaring Andes Mountains to the East and North. It’s beautiful really to see the massive peaks that line the flat city. In the well-heeled neighborhoods like Providencia and Las Condes, you’ll find award-winning restaurants and world-class hotels. There are great pedestrian malls in the Centro neighborhood near the Ritz-Carlton Santiago, and nightlife takes flight in the sidewalk eateries, cafes and beer halls of Barrios Brasil, Lastarria, and Bellavista.
I spent my first evening in Chile at the Ritz-Carlton Santiago. It’s located in the center of the business district and, as expected, is beautiful, grand, and terrific. The rooftop spa/pool is enclosed by a glass sunlit ceiling, and on the patio, you have views of the skyline and the Andes in the distance.
From Santiago, I headed to Valparaiso where I stayed in Zero Hotel. The rooms are darling, with high ceilings and windows that open to the sea. The back patio of the hotel faces the sea with a veranda overlook. It’s the perfect area to just rest, relax, and watch the port operate in the distance. Full length windows wash the dining room in morning sunlight and evening sunsets and they have an honor bar open 24 hours a day where you can pour wine by the glass. It’s located just two blocks from the hippest street in Valparaiso in the part of town where everyone wants to be. You don’t need a car, just get out and explore.
Valparaiso itself is like a giant secret – South Americans know it, but it’s off the map for international tourists. In its heyday, Valparaiso was the richest, most luxurious port city in South America. It was settled by Europeans to be the gateway for shipping trade with Asia and Europe. But with the building of the Panama Canal in the early 1900’s, Valparaiso was forgotten. In 1914 a fire destroyed the city building and layout plans and as a result, Valparaiso became a free-for-all with regards to development. Slowly, the city lost its original identity and what you have today is an incredibly complex city of twists and turns.
Valparaiso sits on and is comprised of 42 hills that crash down into the sea – similar to Cinque Terre, but larger, and with much more narrow and windier roads. The buildings are colorful, street artists have a free-for-all permission to paint the entire city, and the seafood is fantastic. After visiting, Valparaiso definitely jumps into my list of top five cities in the world.
On the return trip to Santiago, I had the pleasure of stopping at two vineyards in the Casablanca Wine Valley, Chile’s fastest growing wine region. My first stop was Case del Bosque vineyard where I had lunch. The courtyard and restaurant were beautiful.
The second vineyard I visited was Kingston Vineyards. The owners are American, but it’s off the tourism map and they export 100% of their bottles to a wine club so you can’t buy their wine anywhere except through a club membership. I’m myself am not the biggest red fan, but it’s the best red wine I’ve ever tasted in my life and the white was terrific too. They had an outdoor tasting area at the top of a hill and it looked across the entire valley which truly resembled Napa/Sonoma in look. They have a variety of activities available on the property like horseback riding around the vineyard, private tastings of the grapes, a walkthrough of the production, and more.
Travel to Chile with Ker & Downey
Travel to Chile with Ker & Downey to discover its many wonders – from its richness and depth of culture to its unique and serene landscapes. Chile has a wealth of natural offerings and is a favorite destination for travelers to South America. It’s a great country to experience on its own or as an add-on excursions from any South American destination. For more inspiration, check out our itineraries that travel to Chile.