Cosmopolitan cities, deserts, ski resorts and World Heritage sites are all to be found in this land of stunning beauty and cultural quirks.
I’ve been warned to take care in Santiago. There are muggings, locals say. But from where I sit by the window of my restaurant in inner-city Lastarria, no one sashaying by looks shifty. I want their swagger, their dress flair, to parade before shop windows adoring my reflection. After dessert, I shift to the roof-top bar of my hotel, The Singular Santiago, where the city’s bold and beautiful drink under a rising gibbous moon that accentuates their cheekbones and the white tips of the Andes behind them.
Once dismissed as a city of industry, the Santiago of 2017 is an entirely different beast – “surprising, cosmopolitan, energetic, sophisticated and worldly”, as Lonely Planet puts it.
Valparaíso is a vibrant port city with a rich history and interesting areas to explore.
The city is a kaleidoscope of color; brightly painted houses clinging to the hillsides like the sides of a trowel with the city’s busy port at its tip. Valparaíso is Chile’s second largest metropolitan area after Santiago and one of the South Pacific’s most important seaports.
Upscape tour guide Manuel Garcia wants me to have this view before we start to explore neighborhoods and the historic quarter designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. As I take in the breathtaking view, Manuel explains that during the second half of the 19th century, the city served as a major stopover for ships traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans by crossing the Straits of Magellan.
You don’t have to be a world traveler to lose yourself in the fantastic places that dot our planet. Here are 6 of the most unbelievable wonders around the globe.
1. NEW ZEALAND’S GLOWWORM CAVES
In 1887, Maori Chief Tane Tinorau and English surveyor Fred Mace made an astonishing discovery in New Zealand: a complex of caves illuminated by an otherworldly blue-green glow. For generations, the Maori had whispered about the caverns, but presumably no one had ventured deep inside until this pair went exploring by raft and candlelight. What they found was remarkable. The limestone ceilings of the cave system were strung with thousands of glowing creatures, the larvae of a carnivorous fungus gnat called Arachnocampa luminosa. These “glowworms” use blue bioluminescence to attract prey, which they then ensnare by dangling a gooey string of mucus.
Street art, maritime history, Pablo Neruda — this seaside port city is definitely worth a pit stop on your Chilean honeymoon.
Located about 70 miles (112 km) from Santiago, the seaside port city of Valparaíso was once known as “The Jewel of the Pacific.” During its heyday in the late 1800s and early 1900s, before the Panama Canal was completed, the city thrived. Though it later suffered decline as the port became less important to trade, it’s been revitalized in recent years. In 2003 the city’s historic quarter was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and today it’s a chaotic jumble of narrow cobblestone streets and colorful houses that crawl up and over the city’s 40-plus hills. Yet despite its bohemian appeal, the city is less well-known than nearby Santiago.