El Cajon del Maipo, Santiago de Chile

       Our fabulous journey started at 9 AM with the meeting point at Ando Andes’ office which offer sustainable tour services. The Santiago’s sky was clouded and grey of the smog when we left the city. It’s on the way to El Cajon that the sun had started showing up. The view of the grandeur of the Andes with the wild horses and the flowered villages were splendid. We passed in front of the Rio del Maipo where during summer rafters come to practice their activities.

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     We drove around two hours before reaching the main point of the visit “ Embalse Del Yeso” a wonderful reservoir surrounded by the snow-covered mountain. We dropped the car and started walking around.

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   During the walk the guide explained us what were the effects of the glaciers over the mountains and the nature. Unfortunately, there are many mines which are still running and which destroy El cajon by wasting water and polluting the air with trucks.

 Armed with our camera we crossed paths a deserted-former military base from the Pinochet’s dictatorship and drunk the magic water from Cascada la vieja. Why magic? Who drinks this water will come back to drink it again on a future day. I’m looking forward going there again!

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     We continued our way to a terrifying deserted tunnel formerly used as a train to convey commodity and people. Horror movies-lovers we dare you to cross this dark and endless tunnel!

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    After this moving tunnel we came back to the car to lunch at the main village called San Jose del Maipo. We ate in a pleasant restaurant called Las ovejas negras “the black sheeps” before going back to Santiago.

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During the lunch we listened to a last story about el Cajon del Maipo:

   “When the Spanish came to overrun Chile, inhabitants from El cajon went to hide their gold and valuables through the mountains in order to protect them from the invaders. However, some of the inhabitants died before revealing where their fortune were hidden.  So we assume there is still gold somewhere between the rocks of the mountains.” Always wanted to be gold prospector? 😉

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TOP 10 Things you should visit in Santiago de Chile

  1. SAN CRISTOBAL HILL

    cerro san cristobal

To catch the best sweeping views over Santiago and the Andes you should go to Cerro San Cristobal. Reach the top with runners and bikers to admire the Virgin de la inmaculada Concepción, to drink a Motte Con huesillo and to taste an Empanada.

  1. SANTA LUCIA HILL & LA FERIA SANTA LUCIA

    santa lucia

Known as “the green lung of Santiago” Santa Lucia Hill offers one of the best view inside Santiago. Go for a stroll inside this park and reach the top in order to take some nice panoramas of Santiago. Then you can buy some traditional gifts at la Feria Santa Lucia. You might find funny souvenirs like a Indio(a) Picaro(a) or jewelry made of the famous blue metamorphic rock called Lapis-Lazuli.

  1. PLAZA DE ARMAS

    plaza de armas

The main square of Santiago is a vibrant place where lots of artists perform and street shows take place. It’s a perfect place for walking in the street a Sunday afternoon or to observe people. Unfortunately the square by itself is closed for renovation, then don’t be disappointed to not be able to visit the place.

  1. BARRIO LASTARRIA

lastarrias

Located in the center of the city, it regroups in a same place culture, bohemian style, white buildings, restaurants, terraces, designer shops… This neighborhood really worth it and deserves a walk.

  1. El MERCADO CENTRAL Y LA VEGA

la vega mercado central

Santiago is a city which doesn’t really break your habits; you will not be stunned in front of its contemporary buildings and its modern facilities. However, you just need to cross the Mapocho River to perceive what the Chilean culture is. The Central Market and The Vega are two indoor markets: one of seafood and the other one of fruits and vegetables. It’s the perfect place to lunch, to amaze your taste buds with the Chile’s treasure and to slip between the locals.

  1. BARRIO BELLAVISTA
     

    bellavista

Barrio Bellavista is one of the most typical and picturesque neighborhood of Santiago, with a bohemian style and a particular architecture. It’s a perfect mix between gastronomy, art, and entertainment making Bellavista a really special neighborhood. One of the finest examples of cultural heritage is the Pablo Neruda’s house called La Chascona. After the sun went down this neighborhood turns in a place to party hard and to chill out till the sunrise.

  1. THE GENERAL CEMETERY

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The General Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries in Latin America. Its 85 hectares became a magnificent grounds filled with ornate mausoleums. Notable interments like presidents, senators, musicians and scientists found their final resting there. The cemetery is surrounded by palm and leaf trees together with numerous sculptures (around 237). More than its vocation it serves as a true urban park decorated with thousands of flowers.

  1. EL PARQUE QUINTO NORMAL

parque quinta normal

Located close to the Matucana neighborhood, this park has been elected one of the 30 most splendid parks of the world. Bring your picnic (or some empanadas) and have a nap on this park can be a good idea to spend a nice afternoon. But more than a simple park, it regroups 5 museums which are all free the Sundays (/!\ but they are all closed on Monday). Outside of the park is located the Museum of the memory and the human rights. A place which tells the Pinochet’s dictatorship in order to never forget what happened not so long ago.

  1. CAJON DEL MAIPO

    cajon del maipo

Cajon del Maipo is a canyon in the Andean Southeastern portion of Santiago. You will enjoy riding, hiking, taking a bath in the hot springs and taking part to all the others activities. AndoAndes ANDOANDES is a Green Company tour; they take pride Recycling, Reuseing, Composting all of our tours. Their company is dedicated to showing the best places, magnificent and natural beauty in the Andes Mountains that can be found within just a few hours of Santiago like Glaciers, waterfalls, ancient forests, lagoons, volcanoes in Maipo Valley and national parks.

     10. EL PERSA BIO BIO

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El Persa Bio Bio is a giant second hand market located in the Franklin neighborhood. You can spend hours bargain-hunting for a really old writing machine or for a Chilean style backpack. They get everything you need and much more!

Top 10 of our best restaurants in Santiago

Triana 863

Triana 863, providencia, Santiago de Chile (Salvador Metro Statio, Red line)
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       Alright, I start this list of good restaurants with the Triana café. Triana café is the Aji hostel’s restaurant. Located in the famous tourist neighborhood called Providencia, they offer really tasty meal and delicious natural juice. Every day of the week (from Monday to Friday) the restaurant is full of people who want to taste of our meals. Prices are cheap, so if you’re looking for somewhere to have something to eat, that’s your place!

 

El Mercado Central

En el mercado central  de Mariscos (seafood)
( Puente Cal y Canto Metro Station, Yellow line)
 
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          If you want to try delectable seafood, the Central Market “Mercado Central” will open your taste buds. They offer seafood dishes which are the treasure of the sea. Prices are in general reasonable!

 

California Cantina

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urbinas 44, providencia, Santiago de Chile  (  Los Leones Metro Station, Red line )

       California Cantina is a sport brewpub that offers American and Mexican meals with burgers and huge tasty XXL Burritos. As well, the bar sales craft beers, then if you’re a beer lover this place is made for you, but if you prefer cocktails they also have really good choices. Not only a restaurant, it’s as well a place to party from Thursday to Saturday. The atmosphere and the service are really good, and prices are reasonable (either cheap, neither expensive).

Bocanariz

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Jose Victorino Lastarria 276, Santiago de Chile (Universidad católica Metro Station, Red line)

          The fifth best restaurant in Tripadvisor, they got the certificate of excellence in 2014. I really enjoyed this place for its wine list. They have plenty of wine and if you are wine lover you will appreciate its wine-cellar, which is filled with the best Chilean wine and really good other references. Moreover their really good wines they also have flavorful dishes (ex: ribs with wine sauce and mashed sweet potatoes). At last, waiters speak English which is unusual in Chile. This restaurant is a bit more expensive than the average but it really worth it!

Zanzibar

San José María Escriva de Balaguer 6400, local 6, Vitacura, Santiago
 
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       Just the name makes me travel east. Zanzibar is a restaurant/lounge which offers African, Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine. The food is scrumptious and the mix of flavors and spices will marvel your buds. Moreover a delicious menu they also have a bewitching atmosphere, a fairy tale for your eyes, a dance of colors and romanticism. The service is great: a caring team and shows of dance, this restaurant gets everything you expect and much more!

 

 La Peluquería Francesa

Calle Compania de Jesus 2799, Santiago de Chile (  Quinta Normal Metro Station, Green Line)
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        I must confess this article won’t be written with an objective mind since I’m French. But I’m really proud to recommend this restaurant. They offer an unbelievable French food and desserts are toothsome. The owner is as well really proud of his restaurant designed in a former French barber shop from 1868 (then peluqueria francesa makes sense!). The design is full of small details which will catch your attention throughout your meal. Moreover it is located in the really nice bohemian neighborhood but anyway just the place deserves a look.

 

Uncle Fletch

 Dardignac 0192, Bellavista ( Baquedano Metro Station, red line 1)
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       Located in the famous Bellavista neighborhood, the surroundings of this restaurant are splendid with a New-York Style: bricks, wood and beer barrels.  Uncle Fletch raises the Hamburgers to the rank of gourmet dishes. The Supreme Blue Cheese or the Cheese cake will satisfy your hunger, the burgers are generous and the pan and the home-made French fries are delectable: crunchy at the top and spongy inside! Moreover the staff is welcoming, they speak English and they recommend you well.

 

Santo Remedio

 Calle Roman Diaz 152 (Salvador Metro Station, red line)
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           First time I went there I was really impressed by the decor, industrial surroundings with a dim light and a soft electronic music that warm up the atmosphere. Also they offer a list of aphrodisiac cocktails with impressive mix of flavors and alcohol. I’m pretty sure you will be charmed by the sexy names they gave to their cocktails and you will want to try them all! They have an utter menu, lovely presentation, with a mix of spices and textures. Finally the waiters are good advisers and speak English.

 

Domino

Alhumada 146, Santiago de Chile ( Historical center)
Close to Tobalaba Metro Station ( Red Line)
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        Alright this is not really a fancy place to date with your girlfriend, but still you cannot miss it out! Domino is a Santiago institution which offers Chilean style sandwiches. You must try their value hot dogs and order and “Completo” (hot dog with avocado, tomatoes and mayonnaise).  You definitely should try this local flavor for a lunch, a break during two tours. Getting a seat at the count it’s a good place for fun. Who thought that a fast food could have been lot of flavor and fun?

El caramaño

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Purisima 257, Santiago, Chili ( Baquedano Metro Station, red line)

     This restaurant would be a perfect choice after getting up the San Cristobal Hill or visiting the Chascona ( Pablo Neruda’s house),  located in Bellavista neighborhood, they offer traditional Chilean food. The food is delightful and they have a wide choice of dishes and wines. The most of this restaurant is its decoration: you’re welcome to write your comments and advices on the wall!

Things to do in 48 hours in Santiago de Chile

Simply passing through Santiago? You may have a flight in the next 48 hours but you want to discover the city? Then this article is made for you!

TOP THINGS TO DO IN SANTIAGO IN 48 HOURS

las ferias Santa Lucia

After waking up from a good night’s sleep in Aji Hostel; Get ready with a consistent breakfast and the proper shoes (to avoid awful blisters)!

DAY 1

9.30AM: On your way for Tours4tips (meeting point at 10 a.m). One of the cheapest way to discover the city. Get on the tube from Salvador Metro Station to Bella Artes Metro Station, and reach Bella Artes Museum where the tour starts.

If you prefer to ride into Santiago, La Bicicleta verde (a sustainable company) offers tours in and out Santiago.

1PM: Lastarria Neighborhood  (Red line #1 Universdad Catolica Metro Station) is your next destination. With a bohemian style this neighborhood deserves a walk. You will enjoy the small shops, the terasses, and the restaurant to lunch.

3PM: Really close to Lastarria Neighborhood you’ll meet Santa Lucia Hill “the green Santiago’s lung”. First reach the top of the hill, and enjoy the view and the park. Then go to Feria de Santa Lucia   which is a traditional market. Over there you can buy Chilean gifts and try delicious natural juice for $1500.

6 P.M: HAPPY HOUR! Time to go to Bellavista Neighborhood  to chill out with a drink or a beer (un trago o una cerveza) Escudo, Cristal, austral are chilean’s beer you can order. If you  prefer cocktails you should order a terremoto (a earthquake) or a piscosour which are two famous beverages here in Chile.

10 P.M: Carrete! Santiago has nothing to envy to Buenos Aires and it gets everything to party hard! Here is a list of places you can go to party/to have a simple drink in Santiago:

  • Liguria   Restaurant/Bar (Av. Providencia 1373, Providencia, with typical Chilean food) close to our hostel.
  • Club la Feria  Constitucion 275, Providencia.
  • Bar constitución  Constitucion 61, Providencia
  • EL Santo Remedio,  with a decor and a design that will not let you uninterested, close to the hostel as well. Calle Roman Diaz 152, Providencia.
  • La Piojera, Aillavillu, Santiago, Chili
  • Bellavista neighborhood: you might find over there clubs and bars to party and enjoy yourself throughout the night!

DAY 2

museo de la memoria

9.30 AM:  The sun is here, get ready to reach  Cerro San Cristobal

Unfornutaley it’s a Rainy/cloudy day: On your way to The human rights & the memory museum

1. PM: Lunch time! Here goes a list of really good restaurants here in Santiago. If you’re looking for a cheap meal, you may find plenty of small fast food restaurants that offer famous Chilean snacks such un completo, un completo italiano, empanadas …

3. PM: Show up to the other one Tours4tips. It would be the perfect activity to complete the circle.

6 PM: Your 48hours visiting Santiago are over !

I hope you enjoyed reading this article !

 

Cheap way to discover Santiago: Tour4tips

 

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Meeting point: Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts, Santiago de Chile ( L5 metro station: Bella Artes)

During my reception shift I chat with guests from Aji hostel, and many of them told me really nice feedbacks about Tour4tips.

I did it and I do advice you to go because first of all, I like the concept: you come for free and then you give a tip if they deserve it. Then obviously, you know it will be really cool if they want to collect generous tips! They usually ask for CLP$5000, which is still pretty cheap for a tour.They provide utter tours and they’re really famous here in Chile. There are two meeting points per day: one at 10 a.m (for the early birds: http://bit.ly/1rpxaIA) and one at 3 p.m (for those who went to a party the night before: http://bit.ly/1j0Oilv). However, the morning tour and the afternoon one are not the same.

Furthermore, I think it’s a good way to discover the highlights of Santiago with a guide right after your arrival. If you enjoyed that tour, there is another “ free tour “in Valparaiso (http://bit.ly/VIuAAB), which will be for sure your next stop in Chile !

 

I hope you enjoyed this tip =)

For a free Sunday afternoon in Santiago de Chile

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Matucana 520, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chili (metro linea 1 parada quinta normal)

After attending to the free tour you can have a walk at Quinta Normal Park. Located close to the Matucana neighborhood, this park has been elected one of the 30 most splendid parks of the world. Bring your picnic (or some empanadas) and have a nap on this park can be a good idea to spend a nice afternoon. But more than a simple park, it regroups 5 museums which are all free the Sundays (/!\ but hey are all closed on Monday). The private Corporation for Circulation of Science and technology is in charge of 3 museums: The Science and Technology museum inside the Partenon building, The railway man museum and the Infantile Museum inside the Obrecht’s house. On your way you will meet the Quinta Normal Greenhouse, even if nowadays this building is abandoned, it has been declared National monument in 2009. While going ahead of your journey you’ll find the Art museum inside the Versaille Palace designed with a French style that offers national and international experimental exhibitions.  Finally close to the entrance  you’ll meet the National History Museum which is guarded by a gigantic whale skeletal.

What to do in Santiago ? La Bicicleta verde

tour en bici        La bicicleta verde is a bike tour company which offers to discover Santiago and the surroundings on a sustainable way! Go for a ride in Santiago with an entertaining guide who will show you hidden spots of Santiago. You will learn more about local people, their history, their culture. With our friends from The green Bike you can get on their bikes to enjoy the Chilean Vineyard and to taste it (of course) y discover the surroundings of Santiago. I recommend them because they received really nice feedbacks from prestigious newspapers such as the New-York Times and The guardian, and because I like the concept to be sustainable which is vital nowadays, so +1 for the Green Bike! To get more information: www.labicicletaverde.com

Kiss & Love Aji hostel !


 

La bicicleta verde es una empresa que ofrece descubrir Santiago y los alrededores de una forma sustentable! Con ellos puedes tomar un interesante paseo por Santiago con un entretenido guía que te mostrara los lugares más importantes de la ciudad con las historias de quienes vivieron en ella y también de quienes viven hoy ahí, acercándote de manera muy entretenida también a las particularidades de la sociedad Chilena. Con los amigos de La Bicicleta Verde puedes también tomar un tour en bicicleta en un viñedo, que incluye degustación de vinos por supuesto, y conocer los alrededores de la gran ciudad. La Bicicleta Verde tiene un gran prestigio como tour operador y ha recibido excelentes comentarios en medios internacionales de alto renombre como el New York Times y The Guardian. Por que nos gusta el concepto de sustentabilidad, que es vital en estos días, entonces +1 para la bicicleta verde!

Besos y amor Aji hostel !

Para mas información: www.labicicletaverde.com