Photos of Chile: A Look Back at 5 Years

Dear Chile,

Oh, how I have loved you. Your wrinkles, your bruises, your knobbly knees, and wild, uncombed hair. I’ve laughed with you and cried, despaired and prayed, been shocked by you and bewildered you in turn. I’ll never forget your kindness and vitality. Thank you for giving me my children, and for making my soul soar.

Forever yours,

Helen

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The reality of a retreating glacier. Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
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Dieciocho will forever be referred to as the ‘Cueca’ day in our house! A place where my kids sing along to El Costillar es Mio alongside the Star Wars theme song and Taylor Swift.
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Making friends, no matter how small, in Chile’s Little North
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Sunset in the Chilean ‘campo’, or beautiful countryside. Discover ‘rayuela’ here

 

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Desierto Floridoa phenomenon that took my breath away.
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Somber faces reflected back in these photos of the original inhabitants of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.
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One of Chile’s first cities, La Serena is a mecca for history lovers.
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Learning all about beekeeping and small producers in the Casablanca Valley
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Becoming friends for life at Vitacura’s annual open day at the Aerodromo (Santiago).
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A flower by any other name … Elqui Valley.
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Poring over the great expanses of the Atacama Desert.
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Finding our own windswept corner of the world, Punta de Choros
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The cake to end all cakes: the Jeezy Limon at Pasteleria Lalaleelu, Ñuñoa (Santiago)
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Taking a break from the city by visiting Veramonte
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Moment of glory for Punta de Lobos’ endemic cacti
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A brush with snow in the Cajon del Maipo

 

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Sunset in Pisco Elqui
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Icicles for days in Valle Nevado
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Running, running, running through the Casablanca Valley
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Houses on stilts in Chiloe
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Cueca like no one is watching. Vichuquen
@zilla.photography
Weekend away in a hotel made entirely from upcycled shipping containers in Valparaiso @zilla.photography
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Manjar-filled delight from La Ligua

 

Thank you for coming on this journey with me. Please take a look through my previous blogs to find out why I have loved living in Santiago so much. I recommend that you start here:

Querida Recoleta

Santiago’s Children

 

 

 

 

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Food Tour of the Casablanca Valley

Luis and I are so happy to report that our new tour to see where our food comes from was a success!  The Valley Tasting tour takes families to cuddle and bottle-feed baby goats, try goat cheese, learn about beekeeping and try honey, don beekeeping gear to see the hives up close, and sample Attilio & Mochi wines (along with other local products). Here are some photos from our May 19th inauguration – everyone had a blast!

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If you would like more information just send me a message to info@milesandsmiles.cl or have a look at our website here.

La Serena & the Elqui Valley Photo Diary

Laguna Conchali

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Stopping outside of La Ligua for some of their Chile-famous pastries
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Manjar-filled delight
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Laguna Conchali, outside of Los Vilos. A great spot for bird watching.
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Birds to spot: Chiloe Wigeon, Cinnamon Teal, Great Egret, Chilean Mockingbird, White-Tailed Kite, White-Tuted Grebe, and more.

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Turbines everywhere on the way between Los Vilos and La Serena

La Serena

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The Japanese Garden
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Cueca Brava in the Mercado La Recova

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Eating papayas makes a delicious way to spend your time in La Serena!

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Inside the Museo Arqueologico

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The La Serena Lighthouse

Vicuña

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Death mask of Gabriela Mistral, South America´s first Nobel Prize winner, and who was born in Vicuña.  The town also has a museum dedicated to her life and achievements.

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Checking out the Pisquera Aba distillery
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Pisco with Maqui, a berry found in the south of Argentina and Chile. Que RICO!
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Visiting the stars with Alfa Aldea. Highly recommended.
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Only Spring and we are already swimming! We found our cabaña on Yapo – no middle man to pay and great prices!

Villa Seca + Paihuano

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Sun-baked goods in Villa Seca! Love to see all that solar energy being put to good use.
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Copao is a fruit endemic to Chile that comes from the Eulychnia acida cactus. The Elqui Valley is a great place to try it, along with deliciously cold and fresh fruit juices.

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Pisco Elqui

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Fundo Los Nichos, one of the few family owned distilleries in the area. Support small!

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More blogs like this:

Ovalle & the Limari Valley;

Punta de Choros ;

Sewell;

Chile in Photos;

Copiapo & Desierto Florido;

Beautiful Photos by Photographer Yorka;

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Open Day at the Aerodromo de Vitacura

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Each Spring a wonderful event happens: the annual open day at the Club de Planeadores (Aerodromo) de Vitacura.  Normally a private spot for pilots, it transforms every November into an all-day extravaganza for the whole family.  From helicopters you can hop into and explore, gliders, small planes and stands featuring all of Chile´s armed forces, the free event caters to all aviation fanatics from about 10am until around 6pm. This year there were hourly shows and even helicopter rides on offer too, from $20,000 for 20 minutes in the sky.

We really enjoyed learning about the SSOT Project (Sistema Satelital de Observacion de la Tierra) which is operated by the Chilean Air Force (Fuerza Aerea de Chile).  The project has put a satellite developed by ASTRIUM (France) into the atmosphere above Chile to monitor and (eventually) predict trends across the areas most pertinent to Chile, namely, volcanic activity, seismic activity, forest fires and land mapping.  Find out more here.

Tip: there isn´t much shade so come prepared with hats and sunblock, and this year none of the food trucks sold water (only soft drinks).

 

The Nitty Gritty

Address: Santa Maria 6299, Vitacura, Santiago

Website here


More Family Fun ideas:

Museo Interactivo Mirador (MIM);

Museo Aeronautico y del Espacio;

Museo Artequin;

Museo Ferroviario;

Parque de la Infancia;

Santiago with Kids (review)

Quintessence Alpaca Farm

The gate of this farm is colossal – and no wonder, considering that inside is one of the world´s leading alpaca farms.  In front, there are alfalfa fields as far as the eye can see, right up to the looming hills that characterize so much of Chile.  On the day we visited, these fields were being harvested for the alpacas to eat, the tractors rolling over the proud grasses with a gentle hum.

 

 

Upon entering the farm, it is clear that the alpaca is the star. You see them straight away, dainty heads upon tall necks peering over the low fences that corral them in to their paddocks and stables, their eyes alert and docile beneath lustrous lashes. Maria Herlinda de la Garza is the operator of the farm, first pulled into the alpaca world by her then-employer, grocery store mogul, Charlie Fitzmorris, who owned an alpaca farm in Chile and wanted to export to the United States.  After his death, Maria decided to continue working with alpacas because, as she writes on the website, ¨I had fallen in love with Alpacas and their amazing fiber … Their fleece has become my passion¨.

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Quintessence was the result, a success by all definitions of the word, that today exports to some 15 countries around the globe.  They have bred some of the finest animals in the world, and have processed their fibres down to a shocking 12.5 microns, a measurement that is incredibly fine.

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According to their website, Quintessence aims to ¨to create a social responsible  and sustainable company that will safe guard the environment while creating community jobs among local women and men of great skill and experience in this sector of the industry.¨

A tour of the farm can be in English or Spanish, and takes you around the entire grounds including the mill, culminating in the store which contains clothes, accessories and wool processed and created on the farm.

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What IS an alpaca?

There are two breeds of this South American camelid that closely resemble their more familiar – and larger – cousin, the llama. Unlike the llama, they were never domesticated to do heavy duty as a beast of burden but instead have always prized for their fibre, which comes in an astonishing 52 natural colors (as classified in Peru) and their meat. Their fibre (it is not called wool) contains no lanolin and is famed for its soft and luxurious quality that is somewhat akin to hair. The process for obtaining the fibre is similar to getting sheep wool, and the animals are sheared each spring; adults produce between 1420-2550 grams of fine quality fibre and then around 1420–2840 grams of second and third quality fibre.  After being shorn, the fibre is selected due to its color, size and quality, then all its impurities are removed.  It is then washed, spun and dyed with cochinilla, or natural dye.  Interestingly, alpacas never overgraze, and consume around 75% less food and water each day than cows and horses.  They also traditionally live side by side with the Quechua and Aymara people, and this co-dependence is said to be one of perfect balance.

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Why farm alpacas? Because the fibre is …

Warm, thanks to microscopic air particles that provide insulation suitable for all weather because it breathes.

Light, thanks again to those microscopic air particles.

Strong, because the alpaca is accustomed to living in an extreme environment (the Andes mountains) and this passes over into its fleece, making it last longer than most other fabrics like wool, cashmere and silk.

Luxurious in texture, a product of its environment, that is soft and comforting. Amazingly, the alpaca fibre can be processed without any chemicals.

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The Nitty Gritty

Website and blog here

Address:

Parcela 14 La Estancilla, Casilla 73,

Llay Llay  V Región Chile

Cel: +56 9 934 57300

Cel2: +56 9 836 11715

Tours: Miles & Smiles Chile (us!) offer private tours in English or Spanish to Quintessence that can be combined with either Olmue or La Campana National Park. Visit our website here.

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Despite Santiago being such a big city, it is fairly easy to escape and find yourself a sliver of nature for the day.  Some ideas:

Santuario de la Naturaleza

Aguas San Ramon (Parque Cordillera)

Rio Clarillo 

Lago Rapel

Lago Peñuelas

La Campana National Park, the place where you can find yourself walking beneath endangered Chilean Palms, rustling some 40m above like tantalizing dinosaur food, each one hundreds of years old (and my personal favorite).

10 Fun Things to do with Kids in Santiago

Having two children, we spend a lot of time going to places with their happiness in mind.  What follows is our list of the best places for youngsters in the city of Santiago, with top accolades going to the Museo Interactivo Mirador, a science and technology museum that will honestly blow your mind and take up most of your day. Chile is also very family friendly, and restaurants will not blink an eye if you pop by with children or babies (and some even have play areas, especially in areas like Ñuñoa and Las Condes).  Further afield, you could stop by:

The Alpaca Farm in Quintessence;

Aguas San Ramon for family-friendly hikes:

Santuario de la Naturaleza to immerse yourself in nature;

Snow fun at Farrellones;

river swimming at Rio Clarillo;

the beaches of Viña del Mar;

the animal farm at Lonquen;

or one of the various Mampato theme parks for little ones.

Selva Viva

There is no better introduction to the jungles of the world then Selva Viva. This is an indoor, living museum where you can hold parrots, snakes, even hermit crabs, whilst learning all about the world´s ecosystem.

Price:   Adults – CLP$9.950 per person / Children (3 – 17 years) and Senior Citizens – CLP$8.950 per person
Address: Av. Presidente Riesco 5330, (Metro Manquehue, inside Parque Araucano), Las Condes

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Museo Interactivo Mirador (MIM)

This interactive museum takes the fun side of science very seriously. It takes it so seriously,        in fact, that the whole family will be amused and entertained for hours – if not the whole    day!  Visit the website here.

Price:   Adults – CLP$3,900 per person / Children (3 – 17 years) and Senior Citizens – CLP$2,700 per person
Address: Av. Punta Arenas 6711, (Metro Estacion Mirador), La Granja

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Museo Aeronautico y del Espacio

Put simply, this is a stunning museum curated with love and maintained with care. This two-storey building is filled with replicas and models of aircraft in all their forms, and there is an outdoors area to explore where you can step inside a real plane.

Price: Free
Address: Avenida Pedro Aguirre Cerda Nº 5.000 (Ex camino Melipilla), Los Cerrillos

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Parque Bicentenario del Infancia

There´s toboggans, a caged maze, sandpit, swings, water fountains and tree huts to entertain your child, plus an amphitheatre for events.

Price: Free
Address: Avenida Peru 1001, Recoleta. Metro Cerro Blanco

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Fantasilandia 

The best theme park in Santiago, Fantasilandia provides entertainment for all ages. Also in Parque O´Higgins you can find a dinosaur museum and an aquarium.

Price: Adults CLP$11.990; Children and Senior Citizens CLP$5.990; Kids less than 90 cm in height enter for free
Address: Beaucheff, corner Tupper (Parque O’Higgins)

fun places to go with kids

Parque Quinta Normal

Choose from one of the museums or just wander this colossal, and historic, park. Museums on offer include the Museum of Natural History, the Science Museum, a railway museum (Ferroviario), and the Artequin children´s art museum.

Price: Free
Address: Metro Quinta Normal

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Buin Zoo

A zoo to rival the world´s best, Buin Zoo packs a huge punch that everyone will enjoy. There´s also a marine show (additional price) and a dinosaur park.

Price: Adults CLP$7.500; Children CLP$5.000; Senior Citizens CLP$4.000; Kids less than 90 cm in height enter for free
Address: Panamericana Sur KM 32, Buin.

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Santiago Planetarium

Chile is world famous for the quality of its night sky and its observatories rank as some of the best in the world. Learn as much as you can at this city planetarium located within University of Santiago (weekends only)

Price: Adults CLP$3.800; Children, Students and Senior Citizens CLP$3.000
Address: Av. L. Bernardo O’Higgins 3349, Estacion Central.  Metro Universidad de Santiago

 

Granjaventura

Give your kids a break from touring and instead take them to meet all manner of cute and furry critter at this farm located in the pre-cordillera.  There are also adventure activities to enjoy in the extensive grounds.

Price: Weekday CLP$4.500; Weekend and holidays CLP$4.900
Address: Av. Larrain 11.095, La Reina

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Cerro San Cristobal

From summer swimming pools, a hillside furnicular train, a zoo, Japanese Botanic Gardens, a dazzling-high cablecar (teleforico) and a city lookout, this gigantic hill dominating the Santiago skyline will provide for the whole family.

Price: Various entrance prices
Address: Pio Nono 450, Recoleta. Metro Baquedano

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I´d love to hear your recommendations and feedback!

Other blogs you might enjoy:

Parque Fluvial Renato Poblete

Museo Artquin & Ferroviario

Family Fun Day