Our hosts are joined by charismatic Chilean, Jorge Swett, to count down 10 experiences you can only have in South America’s wild west.
For a downloadable version of Season 3 Episode 4, click here.
Season 3 of The Gay Travel Podcast is brought to you by GayCities.
Thank heavens for the magic of Skype. Had Jorge actually been in the same room as our regular hosts, we’re not so sure they could have focused long enough to produce today’s episode. Between his chiseled jaw, piercing eyes, bouldering shoulders… *inhales deeply on a cigarette*. Sorry, where were we? Ah yes, luckily enough Jorge was a continent away allowing us to produce one of our best countdowns yet. Listen to the episode now and then check back here for links to all the sites and experiences mentioned by our hosts.
About Jorge Swett
Jorge is a Chilean engineer and photographer who’s incredibly passionate about his country. He is the General Manager at Upscape Travel and has made a career out of convincing people to visit South America’s wild west. You can find Jorge on Instagram.
Any tour of Chile wouldn’t be complete without visiting the country’s centrally located capital, Santiago. Spend at least 2-3 days here taking in the art, museums, the central market and restaurants. Consider staying in the Lastarria neighbourhood. If you have the peso, The Singular Santiago is an excellent hotel.
Tip: Rent a bike and participate in Ciclovías – a term used in Latin America when roads are shut down on Sundays for cyclists. The most popular one in Santiago is next to the river.
9. Taste the Chilean cuisine
No, this isn’t a euphemism. We’re actually suggesting tucking into the local cuisine. Pick up local produce or some exceptional seafood at the aforementioned central market. Seek out the famed local corn dish ‘pastel de choclo’, drink a pisco sour or dig into Chilean vintages.
Best Santiago Restaurants:
8. Drink Chilean wine
As Jorge recounts quite elegantly, Chile is one of the only places where you can purchase 100% Carménère wine. Pick up a bottle, some light nibbles and head to the nearest park for a little afternoon al fresco.
If you’re looking to visit wine country, consider either Cachapoal Valley, Colchagua Valley or Maipo Valley. Concha y Toro is Chile’s largest winery and worth a visit. Meanwhile, two of our host’s favourite wineries are Casa Lapastolle and Montes. Finally, Viña Santa Cruz is the wine capital of Chile where you’ll find exceptional vineyards and restaurants.
A stone’s throw from Santiago, is the gorgeous port city and artistic heart of Chile, Valparaiso.
6. Easter Island AKA Rapa Nui
Rapa Nui is one of the most isolated places on Earth. In fact, according to Jorge, from the top of the island’s volcanoes, the surrounding Pacific is so vast you can see the curvature of the Earth.
Be sure to set aside time to visit and learn about the iconic Moai statues.
5. The Atacama Desert
Famously known as the driest place on Earth, this northern desert has plenty to offer gay travellers.
Rob’s favourite activities in the Atacama Desert:
- Float in a saltwater lagoon
- Hike to Puritama hot springs
- Take in the views in the Salt Mountain Range and run down the Great Dune
- Spend an evening stargazing
4. Lake District
Pucón is the gateway to Chile’s verdant Lake District and a plethora of outdoors-y activities. It is both a city and a picture-perfect volcano. Peter correctly compares this hub to Canada’s resort-town of Banff or New Zealand’s Queenstown.
Activities in Pucón
- White water rafting
- Hiking/Trekking (consider surmounting the volcano)
- Fly fishing
- Soak in a hot spring (Peter specifically mentions Termas Geometricas, a Japanese-inspired spa and boardwalk)
As Rob reminds us, Patagonia is actually a region sprawling through both Argentina and Chile. It is not its own country.
Tip: To avoid the crowds, harsh winds, and exuberant prices, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons (October-November & April-May).
Jorge also mentions Aysén is a gorgeous, remote alternative to the touristy Torres Del Paine. It is located in Northern Patagonia and is littered with fjords, galciers and epic adventures.
While you may not be considering South America’s the snowy slopes in July and August, Santiago is actually an incredible skiing destination. Because it is completely surrounded by the Andean Mountain Range, the city actually boasts some of the country’s best ski and snowboarding slopes. It is so close in fact, that you can enjoy your Santiago hotel’s continental breakfast before bussing out to the hills, and still be back in time for an early dinner. No remote chalets required!
Skiing/snowboarding hills near Santiago
- Valle Nevado
- El Colorado
- La Parva
- Ski Arpa (Back country skiing)
- Ski Portillo (Slightly further: About 2.5 hours from Santiago)
1. A big gay night out in Santiago
Grab yourself a pisco sour and hit Santiago’s gayest neighbourhood, Bellavista. In particular, we love eating at quirky, gay-owned Sarita Colonia. Opposite Sarita Colonia is El Toro, the oldest gay restaurant/bar in the city and our top recommendation to meet locals!
Season 3 of The Gay Travel Podcast is brought to you by GayCities: Know where to go, stay, and eat in over 240 destinations worldwide.
Image credits from the top down: Jorge Swett x 2, Upscape Travel, Thomas Griggs on Unsplash.com, Robert Sharp, EcoCamp, Jorge Swett.
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