intro to Chile - Jul 28 - Aug 8, 2018
For the most part, Oxana did a very good job planning and organizing out trip to Chile. We had printed our itinerary and had access to the Axios app of our daily activities. The itinerary was well organized and structured with lots of helpful information(I.e., confirmation codes, flight #s, seats, check-in and departure times, hotel names, et. al. info). The bilingual tour guides were all knowledgeable, capable, well-prepared, punctual, and professional. We were especially impressed by two tour guides: Maria Teresa Vargas Casanova on Easter Island(Rapa Nui) and Felipe Maureira, our driver, tour guide and sommelier for Colchagua and Maipo Valley tours to the wineries. They were exceptional. We would highly recommend them and now consider them lifelong friends.
The connections went smoothly and our pickups/drivers at the airports were always there waiting for us with our names on signs. First, the accommodations on Easter Island could have been better since the room looked old and needed an update. It looked better from the outside. The service, and breakfast were good, as well as location to the airport,
However, in retrospect, we would have liked to see what other places were available in that category or even a higher category hotel. We would not recommend this hotel If there is a better choice available.
Each time we based out of Santiago at the Ismael Hotel and it was great. It was a nice boutique hotel with great service and breakfast and was centrally located in a fashionable area close to Lastarria, the art museums, the seafood market, and other places of interest. It was a great choice. Our only criticism was during our time in the Atacama. Oxana, even though we did have your telephone #, there were times when the communication could have been conveyed more clearly. For example, though you organized the itinerary, it would have been better to know that local tour operators(i.e.
Rutas Andinas) were handling the tours and schedules. The itinerary you gave us was suddenly in question as the driver who picked us up at El Loa Airport in Calama handed us a different itinerary. The order of activities and the days were changed. The first activity was supposed to be at 5:30am and not at 8:00am as now scheduled. We didn’t want to miss an activity so we prepared for the earlier time. This could have been more clearly communicated to us and the night person at reception was not sure himself. Also, while we had a very nice, modern room, there was no telephone in the room of this new wing of the Hotel(Don Jose). One activity had us going to the salt flats(Salares) with a stop off at a village famous for its church bell tower and the market in the plaza. Unfortunately, we were there so early, the market was closed,! Somebody should have clarified this since it was part of the tour. A big highlight of the Atacama, which we greatly anticipated, was the astronomical observation. Since we had cloudy weather all week, the day was not promising, but it wasn’t until ten minutes before that it actually came off. It was spectacular and we highly recommend this activity with Jorge Corante F. The Atacama part of the trip was where we felt that communication was not clear and we needed more help from you, Oxana. This is the only reason we feel you didn’t get the 5th star rating. However, you did respond quite well after this and notified us of what the last three days of our itinerary were and we considered those updated. We really appreciated that since I had requested help initially with checking in for our flights. You did that with confirmed Check-in info, but we found it was more helpful and direct to just go to the Latam app which we had from our trip last year to Ecuador to get our Tarjetas de Embarque(Boarding Passes). These were superior to what was sent us. For future travelers with Latam, download the app and put in the confirmation codes. A couple of other considerations we would have wanted.
We wanted to go to Pablo Neruda’s house near Valparaiso, but we were given The choice to go there or to do the walking tour as scheduled. We opted for the latter. Luckily, it was closed on Monday so that made it easier. Our good tour guide, Javiera, recommended his house in Santiago. Finally, given our time constraint, we probably needed another day of “down time” in Santiago to more fully appreciate Lastarria, the art and cultural museums, the seafood market, and other places of interest. Santiago has really good food. Dine at Aqui Esta Coco. We started our walking tour in Santiago with our good tour guide, Max, and ended in Santiago walking in Lastarria by ourselves. All in all, we appreciate the itinerary organized for us by Oxana and want to compliment her for her efforts. Gracias por todo(Thanks for everything).