CHILE: FROM THE ATACAMA DESERT SOUTH, TO THE END OF THE WORLD:
The in-between days.
This seems like a good time to emphasize that Chile has an extreme north-south length of approximately 4,300 kilometres ( 2,672 miles) with an average width less than 180 kilometres (112 miles) and a maximum width of 356 kilometres (221 miles). Just for comparison my homeland Canada is 9306 km wide(5,780 miles).
From a perspective of literally travelling Chile north-south (or vice versa) we could have flown to Lima, Peru then boarded a bus to arrive at Arica, Chile’s most northerly city perched on the border between Peru and Chile. Then we could have flown or driven to various destinations within Chile, making our way gradually south until we arrived at Chile’s most southerly inhabited point, Punta Arenas. From there we could have bid adios to Chile on a flight or travelled by boat along the Beagle Channel to Ushuaia, Argentina.
But we didn’t do that.
We hopped on an Air Canada direct NON-STOP ten-hour flight, heading almost due south from Toronto (CYYZ) to Santiago (SCL), Chile. I booked six months early and got a great deal then upgraded to Premium Economy for extra leg-room.
I can truthfully say that I’ve been to Santiago three times! Toronto – Santiago; Santiago – Calama; Calama – Santiago; Santiago – Punta Arenas; Punta Arenas – Santiago.
For our first visit to Santiago we stayed at the Hotel Altiplanico Bellas Artes across from Parque Bellas Artes in the original downtown core of old Santiago. Constructed in 1909AD as a private home (read: wealthy businessman’s home), this structure underwent extensive renovation in 2015 to transform it into a beautiful boutique hotel. And its within easy walking distance of the lookout atop Cerro San Cristobal, as well as fabulous shops, restaurants, bars, and nightlife.
On our second and third visits we had quick turn-arounds with relatively early morning departures. We stayed at the Airport Holiday Inn located at the airport, within walking distance (200 metres) of the terminal. This was a good decision. The rooms were attractive, comfortable, and quiet in spite of the proximity to jet turbine engines. One of the restaurant walls is a massive expanse of glass that overlooks a serenity pool. And in addition to this pleasant ambiance, the food isn’t bad either! The atrium skylight was fantastic!