Winebox Valparaiso

If you live in Chile, then I´m sure you´ve heard the buzz surrounding the arrival of WineBox Valparaiso.  The colossal aparthotel is situated on Cerro Mariposas, on the site of a former neighborhood dumping ground, and is the first touristic undertaking on the hill.

The site as it originally was.

With Winebox, architect Camila Ulloa has created something memorable but also comfortable, an amazing feat of engineering that is constructed of 25 recycled shipping containers.  The containers were inspired by owner Grant Phelps´ hometown of Christchurch, a city which began rebuilding (after the 2011 earthquake) with containers.



The containers are insulated with newspapers and the rooms are furnished with furniture made of some 3000 wooden pallets. There are nineteen rooms with a private terrace, and two suites.

Phelps has an extensive background in Chile, brought here as a winemaker some sixteen years ago.  He has worked for Casas del Bosque, among others, began the Beso Negro project and has been published all around the world as a sommelier, including in Lonely Planet.  It is only fitting then, that his hotel has an emphasis on wine. There is a wine cellar, dedicated to highlighting small-scale producers, and a store selling over 300 varietals.


On the agenda is a restaurant and bar due to open in 2018, though currently Grant is offering wine pairing dinners and events, as well as tours of the project with barrel tastings of the WineBox wine – first wine ever to be produced in the city of Valparaiso.


Interior 1.1.jpg

I find this project incredibly fun and a hugely positive venture for the city of Valparaiso.  Visually, it is a stunner and never quite the same anywhere you look. Grant is also a confident and warm personality, a wonderful host and a man who believes wholeheartedly in giving back to Chile, supporting small providers and wine. The next time you plan a weekend away, book a room at WineBox – you won´t be disappointed.

The Nitty Gritty

Address: 763 Avenida Baquedano, Valparaíso

Phone: 09 9424 5331


Facebook here

Instagram here

Tours: Standard tour runs Sunday 12-5pm (English/Spanish) and includes a tasting of 3 WineBox wines for $5000 (duration 1 hour). Private group tours cost $20,000 per person and include a tasting of 7 wines – all personally overseen by Grant – and run for about 2.5 hours.

Lunch: available on the rooftop terrace for groups.


*All images by WineBox Valparaiso*

This post has not been sponsored – I just think its very innovative and fun!

Beautiful Chile: Photos by Amateur Photographer, Yorka

Santiago after the rain

Who is Yorka?

¨Born in Santiago, corporate slave until my late 20’s, I gave up my career to finally satisfy my thirst for knowledge and new experiences.  I am well-travelled and I can flirt in 4 languages over a bottle of wine, whisky and/or beers (!) I lived in France and China for a couple of years before coming back to Chile in order to fall in love with my beautiful country. I have developed a true passion for photography (still learning!) that makes my world go round lately and I love food¨.

San Pedro de Atacama
San Pedro de Atacama
San Pedro de Atacama

Some Questions with Yorka

1) Where is your favorite spot in Santiago?

Lastarria/Bellas Artes Neighbourhood. You can easily spend an afternoon walking around in the park and then ending your day with a nice dinner and drinks; many choices of  good restaurants.

2) Where is your favorite spot in Chile?

So far, I have two: the Elqui Valley/ the 4th Region in summer time (so many Pisco sour cocktails!) and San Pedro de Atacama in winter (when the desert is covered in snow!)

3) Favorite place to eat in Santiago?

I couldn’t pick just one! It just wouldn’t be fair!

4) Top tips for visitors to Chile?

The best wines are not always the most expensive ones; avoid metro at rush hour; if possible, head north to San Pedro de Atacama; try sea-urchin because many ugly things taste great!

5) Your favorite spot to photograph in Chile?

Valparaiso. The camera loves its colors and unique architecture!
6) Your camera and preferred lenses?
I have a Canon G15, a Canon sx210, a Nikon d5300 (broken now!) and a Nikon d3300. Lenses, I use 18-55 mm, 50 mm, 18-105 mm and a 55-200 mm.
Isla Damas (4th Region)
Isla Damas (4th region)
Pisquera Mistral
Pisquera Mistral (Valle del Elqui)
Elqui Valley
Mouth of the Elqui River
Concha y Toro winery
Canelilo Beach (Algarrobo)
Follow Yorka on Instagram for more amazing pictures and the world!  Click here.

Did you like this? For more photos of Chile, have a look here.

Autumn Giveaway!! (2)

Valparaiso: City of Artists, Dreamers + Explorers

If there is one place that stirs my soul, calls to me and befuddles me, it is Valparaiso. This city is equal parts beautiful, ugly, maddening, exciting, awe inspiring and bewildering. This is the place that for hundreds of years saw the arrival and departure of Chile´s visitors, and was even pillaged by pirates.

The Spanish birthed the city as a port, naming it Valparaiso de Arriba – a completely unoriginal name considering that it was bestowed a further six times across the globe and in multiple locations in Spain itself. The English nicknamed the city Valpo, which has affectionately stuck, but perhaps its most interesting name would have to be Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes del Puerto Claro.

As a port, Valparaiso wasn´t very good – it was far too open during storms – so work began in 1912 to improve it. Land was reclaimed over a period of 18 years resulting in a quay and breakwater that number 700m long and 20 storeys in height.  Although the opening of the Panama Canal greatly affected Valparaiso in the past, today the port is thriving with copper and fruit exports, as well as cruise ships.


Fun Facts

  • Valparaiso is also the headquarters of the Chilean National Congress
  • It has the oldest stock exchange Latin America
  • The first public library opened here
  • The Picunche and the Chango people were the original indigenous inhabitants
  • In 1814 the Battle of Valparaiso was fought between British and the United States ships, as part of the War of 1812
  • Plaza Victoria was the location of slave trading. Slaves would be brought by boat to Buenos Aires, from there they would cross the Argentine pampas and the Andes by foot before arriving into Valparaiso and taken to Lima. Many would die of hunger, exhaustion, disease and even suicide.

Places To See

  • Paseo 21 de Mayo for the best views over the harbour and its where you can find the Naval museum and the furnicular Artilleria (Cerro Artilleria)
  • La Sebastiana, former home of the Nobel Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda
  • Plaza Sotomayor, which is also the headquarters of the Chilean Navy, and where you can join a shared or private boat trip of the harbour
  • Cerro Concepcion and Alegre (visit Color Cafe for cheap, GOOD food in quirky shabby chic!)
  • Palacio Barburizza, an art museum, located in the Paseo Yugoslavo
  • Ascencor Polanco, which is a vertical lift taking you up to the viewing deck of a watchtower
  • Museo del Cielo Abierto, a series of eclectic murals created between 1969 and 1973. Take Ascensor Espiritu Santo
  • Explore the Mercado Cardonal and the Mercado Puerto (latter under reconstruction)
  • Museo Lukas, to discover more about local cartoonist Lukas
  • Mirador Diego Portales for amazing city views

Note: This city is built for walking – on foot. Pushchairs and even wheelchairs will have a harder time, particularly as some of the most interesting places involve a stairway.

Suggestion: Why not combine a trip to Valpo with one of the Casablanca Valley wineries? Casas del Bosque is reputedly the best, or try House of Morande (family friendly), the Casa Botha restaurant (great food), Attilio & Mochi (independent), Bodegas RE (organic + traditional) or Matetic (heaps of activities!)?


For more fun day trip ideas have a look at:

La Campana National Park, one of the last places to see the Chilean Palm;

General Cemetery, Chile´s oldest with up to 11 generations buried;

Museo del Aeronautico,Museo del Aeronautico, to learn more about aviation;

Quintay, picturesque fishing village with a whaling history;

Museo Interactivo Mirador, for a fantastic day out for all the family;

The South of Chile, highlights from Pucon, Caburgua, Frutillar.

La Campana National Park



If  I could recommend two places for people to visit, Valparaiso would be at the top of the list, followed closely by this place: La Campana National Park.


I don´t know why this place spoke to me so much, but speak to me it did.. Perhaps it is because its a world biosphere reserve, designated so by UNESCO.  Across the 8000 hectares of the park, you can lose yourself amongst one of the world´s last remaining Chilean Palm forests which, in one of the great travesties of the world, is sadly on the verge of extinction thanks to over exploitation and the encroaching environment of man. This tree is truly a thing of beauty, despite being labelled as ¨a very ugly tree¨ by Charles Darwin, who ascended the looming Cerro La Campana in 1834.  The sap from the tree is made into Palm Wine as well as Palm Honey, the latter of which is hugely popular  and involves felling the tree and then draining out the sap over several months (yielding around 300 litres of honey). This is now strictly regulated under Chilean law given the tree´s endangered status. In addition to wine and honey, the tree´s leaves can be utilized for basket making and the seeds eaten. No-one knows for certain just how old the trees can grow, but many of the trees in La Campana are hundreds of years old, and up to 40 meters tall. The greatest concentration of Palm trees can be found in the Palmar de Ochoa, a sight which honestly took my breath away as for a minute I almost thought I saw a dinosaur nibbling at the top fronds.


The park is also home to some 320 native and endemic trees and plants, which are pointed out to you by helpful signs. Various Chilean cacti are among them, which are interesting enough on their own. There are 180 different species of Chilean cacti, with the greatest diversity located in the region of Coquimbo, to the north. These are some of the most resistant and unique cacti in the world, with some routinely growing under snow and as high as 2200m above sea level.  In fact, the Austrocactus philippi plant is so accustomed to cooler weather that it cannot cope with temperatures higher than 25 degrees celsius and is particularly rare, found only in one location in the world.


Walking around the park honestly made my spirit soar. Plants to look out for include persea lingue, litharea caustica, chusquea culeou, Chilean wineberry, radal, lignum vitae, peumo, boldo, and many others. The stillness – especially after all the noise of Recoleta – was like a metaphorical hug for the soul and was broken only by the sound of the wind rustling the palms and the scuffling of animal feet on the ground. What else might you see in the park? Try chinchillas, foxes, vizcachas, owls, Chilean mockingbirds, diucas, giant hummingbirds, eagles and more.

The Nitty Gritty:

There are several entrances. We visited the section closest to Ochoa (Palma de Ochoa), with the highest concentration of Palm trees. .You enter in with the car and there are short and longer walks to do, including La Cascada trail which leads you to the 30m waterfall.  The vegetation is divided into four parts: sclerophyll forest, laurifolio higrophyle forest, spiny thickets, and low altitude thicket. It is not pushchair friendly but there are various resting points, as well camping facilities. Shade is limited and temperatures are dry and hot in summer, and average 11 degrees celsius in winter. Payment to CONAF is required upon entry and ID is necessary. Good shoes recommended as the ground is spiky. Take plenty of water.