Arequipa, Peru

A very neat city with thriving culture, history and modernism. Students flock here for the campus life.
Arequipa is known as the white city and you will see why from its incredible architecture. 

In Arequipa we enjoyed walking around getting lost on the small side streets and people watching.
The main market was definitely worth the experience you can buy anything from remedy herbs to raw meats/fish to toys and clothes. 

Our hotel was centrally located and a major plus was you could brush your teeth with the water… in Peru you have to be careful with the water especially at restaurants if the place looks suspicious don’t eat raw vegetables including salad, ice or even coffee.

The ceviche is excellent in Arequipa!

High altitude sickness can be a problem for any people. My husband and I did not have any issues, but we also lived at a higher elevation in the States. One thing that is highly recommended by the locals is to drink lots of Colca tea- should help with the altitude

A link to our hotel Viva Tera
http://tierravivahoteles.com/hotels

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Arica, Chile

Arica, Chile was our gateway into Peru. Flights to Peru were extremely expensive so we decided to take the long way and cross the boarder.
We flew from Santiago to Chile for $130 flight. Booked a hotel and crossed relatively early the next morning.
The boarder is opened 24 hours, however Arica, Chile is much nicer than Tacna, Peru (the closest town across the boarder) and if you must spend the night in one of the towns my vote is with Arica. Chile is 2 hours ahead so it gives you extra time when crossing.
We grabbed a cab to the train/bus station where there are several collectivos (shared taxis) to take you across the boarder to Peru. The entire process from Chile to Peru is about 2 hours. The collectivo is excellent on guiding you thru- he actually does all the work for you. Once, in Tacna we grabbed the next bus to Arequipa which is roughly 5 hours away (there are several bus companies leaving at different times). You do NOT need to buy bus tix in Arica you can buy them in Tacna- it’s actually cheaper. However, we made the mistake on not getting a direct bus and it took about 7 hours to arrive in Arequipa with all the stops, but the plus side is we met some amazing locals on the bus and had great conversations.

Vina Del Mar, Chile

Viña del Mar is the fourth largest city in Chile. It is located right on the ocean and many of Santiago’s elite visit their weekend ocean front condos.
There is great boutique shopping, restaurants and bars.

We rented an awesome condo with ocean views from AirBnB
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/866565

We ended up spending a lot of time at the pool at the condo due to the great views and company.

All along the coastal front are sidewalks to walk, bike, skate, etc. There are several ocean front restaurants as well.

 

 

 

 

 

Wine Country- Colchagua Valley, Chile

Driving thru the main town Santa Cruz we were disappointed and worried the vineyards were going to be nothing like Napa, CA with beautiful rolling hills and quaint places to eat, sleep and shop. There is nothing to write home about the town it was small, not quaint and definitely no shopping. However, once we drove out of Santa Cruz several vineyards started to appear and we went exploring! We had no place to stay that night and several places we called were booked, so we were hoping one of the vineyards had vacancy and drove around in search of a place to stay. Driving around really paid off we discovered and perfect, beautiful hotel on a vineyard that had vacancy and they even gave us a deal since it was a last min booking! 

The hotel was called Vina La Playa. We received a nice bottle of Cabernet upon check in from their vineyard. The rooms quaint and comfortable with their own out door seating. The front desk kindly gave us a map of all the wineries and recommened her favorite. The hotel included free horse back riding and mt bikes- which we thoroughly enjoyed doing thru the vineyard. The hotel’s restaurant was excellent- great steak and crembrûlée 

http://laplayawine.com/ 

Wine tasting in Chile is much different than the United States. We were expecting to be able to just try the different wines, but in Chile you have to take 1-2 hour tour of the winery before you can tast the different wines, they do not allow you to just try the wines. And the tours are not cheap $40-80 (US currency) per person. We really wanted to see several wineries and only had one day to do so therefore doing long tours was not an option (wineries were only open 11-4). We decided since there were six of us to order a bottle or 2 at each winery and drink it there instead of doing a tasting. Saved us money and time. We were able to see 4 different vineyards. 

– Vina Montes. Our favorite wine and vineyard. Absoultey beautiful with The green rolling hills, great red wine, great patio for tasting. 

http://www.monteswines.com/en/

– Lapostolle. More of an expensive selection. No patio or place to enjoy a bottle of wine. There is a private hotel for $1200 a night- we saw guests landing in an a helicopter

http://www.lapostolle.com/ 

http://www.viumanent.cl/

http://www.bisquertt.cl/

-Viu Manet. Not great views but nice patio seating and does have a restaurant. We were not fond of their wines. 

– Bisquert Family Vineyard. This vineyard produced La Joya another one of our favorite Cabernets 

 

http://www.rutadelvino.cl/English/winetours.html

The above website will help with planning your trip to the Colchagua Valley

Pucon, Chile

Pucon, Chile is a bit bigger than Puerta Varas with more shopping, restaurants and lodging- catering more to tourism. 

We spent only a night in Pucon at a great Cabana we found just driving around.

The one day we were in Pucon a Triathlon was in progress so it was difficult to walk around and we ended up heading out for the wine country. One day I would like to venture back to explore more thoroughly Pucon.