Chile is an incredibly safe and developed country. Honestly, I felt like I was just in Chicago or Houston, but where the languages were swapped (plenty of people spoke English too, just like plenty of people in America speak Spanish). I went to Chile with the MBA program at TCU, but a few good friends and I decided to head there early to see the world famous fireworks in Valparaiso.
We spent time in Valparaiso, Vina Del Mar, Pucon, Santiago, and then I ended my trip with a quick visit to the Atacama Desert, which was pretty awesome.
Valparaiso (Valpo) (Spend 2-3 days here, I spent 4)–
Valpo is a port city that is pretty industrial, but the city itself has a great atmosphere, especially for New Year’s Eve. Vina Del Mar is next door, and that is essentially where all the rich people live, because it has the proper beaches.
This photo isn’t mine, but these are the fireworks in Valpo. They have something like 8 stages where they launch incredible fireworks.
The photo is a bit blurry, but this was my vantage point for the show.
My friends from home and I parted ways, but these were some fun people I ran into while there. We danced with locals, witnessed a massive leak at the hostel, and roamed around town together. Good group.
Apparently, all of Santiago essentially, empties into Valpo for the night. This was the scene easily until 6:00 a.m. When I woke up at 10:30 there were still people partying in the streets.
Pucon (Spend 3-4 days here, I spent 4)–
After Valpo we went and met up with the rest of the group at the airport, and headed to Pucon. Here, it is essentially the Vail or Aspen of Chile, Maybe even South America. However, it seems to be more of that for the summers, and less for the winters. There are adventure tours everywhere, a Volcano to climb, rafting, kayaking, hiking, etc. I didn’t do the Volcano hike, but some people in our group did and they loved it. It’s hard, but worth it. Later on it even exploded, so it is very much still active.
We went horseback riding and this was the stop on our hike after the ride. You can’t see just how high and beautiful this thing is, but it was pretty awesome.
We made some Brazilian friends here and so a few of us decided to hang out the night before the rest of our group climbed the Volcano. I feel pretty good about our decision too, the nightlife in Pucon is great.
David is in the MBA program with me and his girlfriend Sarah is a total sweetheart. We went hydro-something (Sarah will likely tell me after I post this) where you essentially go down rapids on a boogie board. It’s likely dangerous, but it was a lot of fun.
After Pucon we went and got fed by the sister school at TCU. The empanadas were epic, and I highly recommend them. After we ate we saw a rodeo.
This is a traditional Chilean rodeo. They’re a bit different than in Texas, where I feel like a lot of our skill (okay, maybe not all of ours, since I’d be terrible, but Texans in general) is displayed by getting things done in time, whereas theirs seems to be more about style. It was great though, and they let me ride their horse around too which was awesome. (I probably shouldn’t have had all that Chilean wine though…)
Santiago (spend 2-3 days here, I spent 4)–
We finally went back to Santiago and did some company visits which were great, and Santiago is a wonderful city. It’s so clean, friendly, walkable, and yet massive. Additionally, it is incredibly safe. I know we were in the nicer parts of town, but still, we tried to branch out a lot and never felt in danger.
This is one of their main squares. Shortly after this photo a friend and I got called into a performance act where we’re pretty sure a guy just made jokes about us for tips. It’s all good though, because I got him to get everyone to do a Chilean chant for me. In the USA we just chant that over and over, but in Chile they do it differently. Theirs goes like this: Chi Chi Chi, Le Le Le, Viva Chile! So, getting a couple hundred people to do that was pretty fun.
This is the view from the restaurant we ate at on our last night together as a group. It really is a great city.
Atacama Desert (Calama Spend 2-3 days here, I spent 1–
Calama is one of the strangest tourist spots I have ever seen. It’s a proper desert, hot, dry, and a bit bleak, but there are a ton of things to do and see. So, if you have a thing for deserts, this is your place to be. The rest of my program left for home, but I decided to stay an extra night and spend 24 hours in the desert to go see the stars, because the desert here is famous for stargazing.
I met some real nice Germans who became my traveling buddies, and we went to the geysers together. The geysers are really, really cold, because of the time in the morning you see them, and the altitude. So, I recommend bringing a light jacket at least if you are going to go. I was pretty miserable for a while before it heated up.
Before that though, I went star-gazing and this is the view of the moon we got in the telescope, taken with my phone. Pretty awesome sight.
Finally, because of my guide’s high exposure, this is a cool shot of me and a view of what you could see that night. Even this picture doesn’t do the view justice in person.
So, all in all Chile is pretty great. It’s safe, developed, friendly, and pretty easy to get around. It’s not somewhere I would be super excited to go on vacation to, but I could certainly see myself living there for a while (and almost did). However, I highly recommend it for someone who is nervous about studying abroad in South America, and/or someone looking to work in South America.
Finally, as I am trying to do in every country (but won’t be able to I know), the business opportunities I see here are limited, because it is so developed. However, I think there would be an opportunity for motorcycle taxis, and food carts, because while developed, people don’t have the kind of money where they can afford proper taxis and restaurants all day.
Thanks for the great time, both to Chile, and to the TCU MBA program. It was a lot of fun, and I’m sure I’ll be back one day.
Country level of difficulty – 4/10