Existing Member?

Living the South American Dream


CHILE | Sunday, 4 April 2010 | Views [569]

Chañaral was an uexpected delight and ansolute highlight f our trip in Chile. Part of our travel plans was to catch buses at night to minimise our down time in hotels. However the trip direct to San Pedro from Viña was simply too long. Ww stopped in the middle if Chañaral and wernt sure what to make of the town at first. By this point we had come to associate Chile with first world prices for most everything, including food and transport and accommodation. That being said we found a nice and comfortable little hotel on the main street (which ran for about 200m lol) and headed straight out. Food is more or less hit and miss in Chile and you do not et what you pay for!!! Generally verpriced food is just that and the price does not justify the quality. >In this instance we payed cheap and received cheap for lunch (having arrived early morning). That afternoon we set out up the hill where the light house is situated to get a fantastic view of the town, bay and surrounding desert. A perfect evening was had with antipasto from the local market, a packet of chips and some bits and pieces whilst watching the sun go down over the water. As soon as the sun disappeares the temperature drops so we promptly went home and passed the night with television.

The next was different. We started the morning with continental brekky and then geared up for a trek along the beach. Aside from thje water being literally freezing the whole bay is contaminated with copper so swimming is prohibted. We met a poor soul who had come north for work after the devesation in the south from the earthquake. He had found no job opportunities and spent the night on the beach. It is curious that despite Chiles first world status the gap between rich and poor is greatly more pronounced and when you are poor you are POOR!!

We carried along the beach, completely deserted given the low tourist seasn (chañaral still attracts tourists mainly for the reason we were there, a stop over). We found some development along the peninsula and carried on past benches and jetties towards what was a massive gathering of pelicans (having been drven from the beach by the rotting carcass of a massive sea lion).

What we soon found became the wildlife highlight of the trip. A whole herd(?) of sea lions gathering at the base of the jetty were restauranters and artesenal fishermen would dump the carcasses of their trade drawing in the pelicans and sea lions in a furry of feathers and blubber. It was a real spectacle and Andres proved himself an avid aildlife photographer getting some beautiful shots. We then stopped for lunch in the neighbouring restaurant where we once again found that the best food need not cost an arm and a leg..

For the avid traveller take note. Do not come to South America without working Spanish if you want the authentic experince, I cannot stress ths enough. You MUST eat where the locals eat or you will suffer the same tastless and tired fare the world over. Chile especially with row upn row of fast food and hamburger joints. The seafood we got in Chañaral was exquisite and obviously, fresh. The best places are the busiest and the cheapest, couple with this the sound of the sea lions in the water, the crash of the waves and the stylings of a local musician on the terrcae without but his voice and faithful guitar, let it be said that age is a barrier to nothing as this sectegenarian p`lyed us with sweet tunes to accompany and equally sweet lunch of sopa de mariscos (seafood soup), pescado a la parrilla (grilled fish) and pan y salsa gratis (free bread and dips). We passed the rest of the day meandering through the streets before waiting for our bus, to arrive at 11 that night.

Disturbingly this was the night Chile was to experience a series of nationwide blackouts and we spent  most of the night by torchlight in the reception of our hotel to escape the chill wind outside.

Next stop San Pedro de Atacama. Smack bang in the middle of the Atacama Desert.

Tags: exploring a seaside town

About shanewl

Follow Me

Where I've been

Photo Galleries


Near Misses

My trip journals

See all my tags 



Travel Answers about Chile

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.