With a whole week in Santiago, I knew that I wanted to get outside of the city to see more of Chile. After some research, I decided that I was most interested in wine tasting in Casablanca Valley and then exploring Valparíso and Viña del Mar. I looked high and low for the perfect itinerary to make it all happen in one day, and once I found Santiago Adventures, I contacted them to book my day trip.
Christopher, my guide for the day, picked me up at my hotel at nine in the morning, and we headed on our way west toward the coast. Our first stop of the day was Emiliana Organic Vineyards in the heart of Casablanca Valley: Santiago’s wine region.
While I have taken my fair share of winery tours and tastings, Emiliana was different, it is not your average winery. To start, it’s organic and everything on the property is used to take care of the vineyards. But, that’s not all. They are also all about biodynamic farming, which is based on the cycle of the moon; look here for a more in-depth explanation.
Once we arrived, we were given a tour of the facilities, as well as an explanation of organic and biodynamic farming; everything on the farm had a purpose, whether it was a plant planted at a certain location or the animals that were kept on the farm, each played their role in the creation of the wine. My favorite, of course, were the alpacas, and I was so happy to encounter them on my trip to South America
Another aspect of the winery that I liked was that they had their very own community garden. This area was set up for all the workers, so that they could continue to live an organic lifestyle in their own daily routine. I like a place that practices what it preaches in all aspects.
Finally, especially because it was quite cold in the valley, we were taken inside for my favorite part of the tour, the wine tasting. For me, this is the best part of visiting a winery – sampling the fruits of their labor and the opportunity to try new and various kinds of wine.
My experience here was no different, and the view from our tasting spot was beautiful – overlooking the mountains and vineyard. We were given two whites and two reds to try, but my favorite was the carménère, a red similar to merlot. I drank my wine and attempted to bond with the other group members who were from Brazil. Although there was a language barrier, we managed to communicate the best we could and give each other tips and suggestions for stays in Santiago.
After wine tasting, Christopher and I headed on our way to Valparíso. The ride from there didn’t take long, and it was a beautiful and scenic journey.
As soon as we entered the area of Valparíso, I was struck by its immediate beauty. It was obvious why this city was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2003. Colorful houses lined the hills that make up the city, and the buildings and walls had some of the best street art I had seen in Chile. Christopher told me that residents are encouraged to paint their homes due to the city’s UNESCO status. To me, it helped to create a bright and welcoming atmosphere, especially with the addition of street art painted alongside the buildings.
There was also the option to ride the funicular up to the top to a look out, but since I had taken one two days earlier at Cerro San Cristóbal, I opted out. Valparíso has eight that still work out of the twenty-six that used to run in the city, and it’s probably a great way to see the city, but I learned the day before that funiculars just weren’t for me.
Instead, we drove up to the look out, which looked right out onto the city’s main port. On a clear day, I would imagine it would also give the perfect view of the city.
From here, we stopped for lunch at another overlook; the view was beautiful, even on an overcast day, and the food was fantastic. I had the ceviche for an appetizer, shrimp raviolis as my main course, and for dessert, flan, all with a glass of carménère, my new favorite Chilean wine. With good company and good food, it was easy to relax and enjoy my lunch before we left on our way to Viña del Mar.
It was cold and overcast in Viña del Mar, but we drove to the ocean and had a look. I knew this would be a place I would love to come back to spend more time in the summer months.
To me, it was reminiscent of a beach in Florida, and my time spent as a kid in Palm Beach. I loved the vibe of the town, even on the cold and cloudy Thursday.
Then, we headed to the Natural History Museum. As part of the tour, you have the option of this or Pablo Neruda’s home in Valparíso. Having seen his other home in Santiago the day before, I choose the Natural History Museum, feeling the need to see and better understand Chile’s history.
What I loved most about the museum was learning a bit more about the Rapa Nui people and seeing the moai statue outside. As much as I had always wanted to visit Easter Island, I scarcely knew anything about it. Here, I was able to look at artifacts and learn a bit about the history of the island, as well as about the other indigenous people of Chile.
From here, we headed back to Santiago, and it all seemed to be over too fast. With the knowledge of these three places, I wanted to see and experience more. Unfortunately, I just didn’t have the time.
Christopher dropped me off at my hotel, and it was as if I was saying good-bye to an old friend. We had discussed our lives in America and Chile, jobs, education, languages, the tourism business, horoscopes, and more, that it was almost hard to say good-bye. But, I guess that’s what made the tour so special.
If you are looking for a way to get outside of Santiago, but only have limited time, this is the ideal tour for you. However, if you have more time, I would definitely suggest spending more time in this region. Santiago Adventures has plenty of multi-day tours to meet anyone’s needs, and during my next trip to Chile, I plan on booking one of them. Their itineraries are the best around, and their guides are some of the most knowledgable that I’ve encountered.
What to Know:
Santiago Adventures offers more than just day trips to the wineries and coast. They also have skiing, culture, outdoor adventure, biking, and trekking, including multi-day adventure trips. Their trips are also not limited to Chile, but they have trips in Uruguay, Argentina, and even a cruise to Antarctica.
A special thanks to Santiago Adventures for the discounted tour, as always, all and any opinions are my own.
Update: Santiago Adventures now goes by the name of Upscape