As wine, beach and road trip lovers we had to visit Central Chile and explore what it has to offer. Located not far from Santiago, we took 5 days to explore the region, adventure in the rugged nature and drink some amazing wines.
Campervan road tripping
Our choice fell to Monkey Adventure, a new little company owned by a young guy Sebastian who went beyond to make our trip amazing. As the office is located outside of Santiago, Sebastian picked us up at the last metro stop and dropped us at our hostel when we returned and offered great van with a smart set up. Chile is a fantastic country for camper vanning, not only for the amazing scenery but unlike in Australia, USA or other developed road trip countries, there are no strict rules for where you can and cannot camp in your van. Also there just aren’t many people doing it here yet, so you won’t find 20 other campervans lined up at every beach town.
Photo: Pichilemu, Chile
Surf and beach time
After spending time in the city we knew we wanted to hit the beach, surf and relax by the ocean. The first stop was a little surfy town Matanzas where the rolling green hills stretch along the cliffy coast and massive rock formations stick out of the ocean. We parked our van right on the beach and fell asleep listening to the waves.
As Chile is now in its quiet winter season, the next morning we had the beach all for ourselves. We cooked breakfast at the beach, did yoga, played with a few local poochies. Happy day!
The next surf spot we picked was the famous Pichilemu. Known as the surf capital of Chile, the super long left hander is great for all levels beginner to pro. There are a handful of surf rental shops and surf schools along the beach, be sure to check the thickness and quality of your rental wetsuit as the water is icy cold. We found a great parking/sleeping spot on the cliff with an incredible ocean view. Pichilemu is not only a surf spot, it is a buzzing little town where lots of things are happening. Good cafes, restaurants, market, horse riding, lots of street food with delicious empanadas, ceviche and mariscos. We even found hot public showers.
Photo: Matanzas, Chile
Wine, wine and lots of wine
It would not be a proper visit of Chile without visiting their wineries. Chilean wine is some the best in the world. And honestly very very affordable even cheaper than a meal.
Around Santiago there are quite a few wine regions to choose from, but we decided on Colchagua Valley mostly for the wines it produces and a good location to our base, the town Santa Cruz. From here you can do an organised tour to one or multiple wineries, but as we are budget travellers we did it ourselves.
Wineries to visit
Vina Santa Cruz is located 18 km from the town and situated in beautiful Spanish style mansion overlooking the vineyards. It’s a huge property that even has its own observatory and a cable car up the hill to it. The winery has a nice café so if you want to skip the full tour, buy a glass of their wine, relax on the massive balcony enjoying the sunset over the vineyards, the choice is yours.
Photo: Winery Santa cruz, Chile
Montes winery was a random find, but lucky it happened as we found the most stylish restaurant situated in the middle of vineyards. For the restaurant is necessary reservation, but if you’re just after a drink they will happily seat you at the bar.
Tip: In Chile, compared to Australia each tasting is paid and can be quite pricey, but the portion of wine to taste is very generous. We asked for a very little serving just to taste the wine, which was free, but not the norm.
MontGras winery is the baby of the wineries, only 22 years old though one of the biggest producers and wine exporters in Chile. located just 8 km from Santa cruz and situated in a beautiful Spanish colonial house. The tasting is paired with snacks and we were even able to try wine straight from the 20,000 litre barrel which was still in its production.
Photo: Restaurant Montes Winery, Chile
Photo: Winery MontGras, Chile
Other venues you shouldn’t miss
Vino Bello was our choice for Brendon’s birthday dinner mostly because of the fireplace and their Italian cuisine. Quite a big range of vegetarian dishes, great wine and amazing service. Go for the beetroot gnocchi with creamy mushroom sauce and squash beetroot ravioli.
Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza was out of our budget but it has a cosy bar – Chaman with a massive fireplace we really appreciated in the Chilean winter and sleeping in our van.