Chile Highlights - Mar 4 - Mar 19, 2019
Overall we had a great holiday. Chile is a diverse, amazing and civilised place. Everywhere we went people were friendly and we didn't feel threatened at all. Highlights were the Atacama Desert and the trips run by Rutas Andinas (especially Andreas); they were very laid back and informative. We also loved Torres Del Paine and had the bonus of being on all inclusive, which we didn't realise until we were on the transfer from Punta Arenas. We did a number of trips from the hotel - Grey Glacier, Base of the Tower, Patagon and Laguna Azul, and all of the guides were excellent. If we were to go again I would probably give the Lake District a miss - Puerto Varas is really nice but the Chiloe Island trip, although there is nothing wrong with it, is a long way (400 km round trip) for not that much return. Osorno Volcano trip was good.
We spent 5 nights (in 3 blocks in Santiago) and the Ismael Hotel is in a great position. Lots of positives about the hotel - staff, atmosphere, breakfast, comfortable bed and pillow but be aware there is not much sound proofing in the glazing, so if you are in a room that is low down and either on the noisy side (back of hotel is on a busy street) or in room 413 (next to apartment that has all night parties on a Saturday - till 0700), try to get moved higher. Walking tour of Santiago was good and the Valpariso/Wine Tour was great. Felipe is a good guy. We also went on a Colchagua Wine Tour, which was the only one where we felt we were pushed along by the guide (Vivi). The vineyards were excellent and we had plenty of wine and a good lunch but we kept being told 'we need to move on in 8 minutes; 5 minutes etc', which isn't great considering how expensive it is.
Oxana (supported by Marina) was excellent and planned the whole thing around our wishes. Also, when we had a couple of scheduling issues with transfers they were resolved immediately. One other thing to mention, throughout the tour, regardless of operator, all of the drivers were good and we both felt safe on all trips (bus drivers in Cambodia please note!!).
An excellent trip and I would use KimKim and EcoChile again.