For our first day in Santiago we wanted to get out of the city and eventually booked a trip with AndoAndes. They had very good reviews on TripAdvisor for their main hiking excursion to the nearby San Francisco glacier. However, I didn’t want to spend the whole day hiking, so we negotiated back and forth to find an outing that would give us both waterfalls and wine tasting.
The original plan was for us to be picked up at the hotel at 9am but we got a reminder email two days before with a pick-up time of 8am. So we got up early, ate breakfast and hunkered down to wait in the hotel lobby. At around 8:30am I was beginning to think they forgot about us, so I called the agency only to be told that they were going to be there at 9am. The response to my increasingly irritated questions about the reminder email were brushed off with, oh, it’s because of Daylight Savings Time (there will be a post about this coming soon). Never mind the fact that the time was supposed to have changed to an hour LATER not EARLIER.
Around 9:15a our driver arrived (due to the start of the school year traffic was heavier than normal) but our guide was missing. Turns out the vehicle he was in had been in small accident, but he was thankfully fine. After a brief adventure in an underground parking garage, he eventually got to our van around 9:40a and we took off for the hills surrounding Santiago.
We decided that focusing on the fact that we waited for over an hour and a half to get the tour started would not be in our best interest mood-wise.
Our first destination was Cascada de la Animas, a short uphill hike to a series of waterfalls.
Once again, the email from the guide company told us to make sure and bring our swimsuits… as you can see, the waterfalls were barely running, and the two small pools at the bottom were way to shallow for swimming in. We followed the hike with a lovely picnic lunch of fresh meats, cheeses, homemade guacamole and cold beer and frambuesa.
The second destination was Concha y Toro Vineyard, the massive winery in the southern suburbs of Santiago.
The grounds were lovely, but the only way to see them is on a guided tour with 30 other English-speaking people and one guide. We were lead around to the varietal showcase garden and manor house before descending into the Casillero del Diablo (Devil’s Cellar) for a very cheesy history lesson about the winery — complete with darkness and creepy voice-overs.
Overall, the wine was passable but it was a very touristy experience and not to our liking. In fact, the whole day was kind of a bust. If I had to do it over again, I would have just cancelled the tour altogether when I called at 8:30am and we just would have spent an extra day exploring Santiago. On the bright side, we enjoyed our guide, and especially the driver who we could contact directly in the future.