I went on a tour with the Che Lagarto Hostel to Valparaiso and Viña del Mar, the Pacific coast which is about an hour away from Santiago, Chile. This tour offered a small overview of the towns and things to see there. It is just a day tour, so you don’t go too in depth in to the area…but it is meant to entice you to visit this area more, and is a great way to see the Chilean coast if you only have limited time in the country.
We took a small private bus for this tour and got to stop at a few overlooks of the cities (and of a wine vineyard on the way to Valparaiso). The Chilean coast is gorgeous. There are many places to see the bustling docks, big blue pacific waves, and small street vendors. We also visited, quickly, a couple historical buildings and a museum to a famous poet.
This tour was much nicer than the first one I went on in the Orinoco Delta (see post: I FUCKING HATE TOURS). It was quick, it gave good insight to the things you can see if you want to come visit Valparaiso and Viña del Mar more extensively.
We also got brought out for food. This was probably the anti-highlight of the day. No fault to the tour, we just had a sucky waitress who took 20 min to come take drink orders and we weren’t even given bread for an hour. I was getting up to go down the street for empanadas when the drinks FINALLY arrived. The food was pretty good, though I got crab meat for $6 (it was literally a large shell filled with plain crab meat, which is what I wanted. I love crab)…which was good, except for the pieces of crab shell strewn through out the meat (someone in the kitchen obviously didn’t pick the meat well). The restaurant, though highly recommended, I was personally not impressed with at all…but also, working as a waitress for 10years, even restaurants have bad days…and everyone else loved their food (once we got it), and the tour guide seemed also quite surprised at the bad service. So maybe it was just an off day at the restaurant for the kitchen and waitress.
The tour showed us an overview of Valparaiso and the Chilean coast. It made me want to go back and explore more. It was a very nice afternoon tour, and if you don’t have a lot of time in Santiago it is a great way to see more than just the city. I was actually quite impressed (after being on such a horrible tour in the Orinoco, I’m not going to lie, I was expecting the worst.) I wish I could have stayed longer and seen more, and more thoroughly…but this tour is designed to be an afternoon day trip to the ocean, not a week on the Chilean coast.
So I may not be a tour type of person most of the time, but after finally taking a nice, well-informative, and more laid back tour (we would stop at places for certain amounts of time and be able to wander a bit, vs. feeling like I have my mom holding my hand all the time), I can now say; tours aren’t that bad. The good ones are a nice way to see something in a short time, or to let you get a preview of a place before you decide if you want to explore it more on your own or not.
I recommend the tours given by the Che Lagarto Hostel in Santiago, Chile. I’m glad I got a chance to go on one. It changed my view of tours and I had a really fun time!
(And our guide was super cool, especially considering half of us on the tour were photographers; and photographers are not known for staying in a group and being on time for anything. Our guide was quite laid back about constantly having to chase us down because we had wandered off in different directions, or gotten sidetracked taking photos and were late for the bus pickup. Got to hand it to him. As a photographer, I know I’m a pain in the ass to go anywhere with.)
Thank you Che Lagarto for changing my view on tours. I had fun!
About Dani Blanchette
I am a freelance travel and music photographer and creator of GoingNomadic.com.
I love music, food, and exploring cities without guidebooks. I’ve flown a helicopter, hitchhiked down the east coast USA, and once snuck into the back of a zoo (in Serbia) and pet a lion.
I am always up for an adventure, and sometimes I videotape them.