During our time on San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos, Juan befriended a local taxi driver named Manolo. Of course, the two of them had a lot in common: Spanish is their native language, they grew up in Ecuador and they seemed to laugh at the same things (probably at me)!
Kidding aside, Manolo was one of the coolest locals we met on the island. Why do I say this? Not only was he a “salt-of-the-earth” kind of dude, but he became our private chauffeur and took us to some unique places.
Our first stop on our “non-touristy” tour of San Cristobal Island was an eco-friendly treehouse. A family generated this treehouse – as well as other rooms on the property – from 100% recycled and sustainable materials! The hippie in me loved this and never would’ve known about it had we taken another taxi…
Have you ever befriended a kind stranger while traveling? And if so, do you still keep in touch? 🙂
After a long (but very fun!) two hours of snorkeling at Kicker Rock, the group headed to a beach that was completely secluded!
There were many staggering features of this deserted area, and I can’t decide which one was my favorite…
1) the water had beautiful turquoise and teal tones
2) the sand was organic, which means that the chemicals the pufferfish can’t digest turns into the soft, velvety sand we walked upon!
3) every creature on the beach was tranquil (more posts to come on this!)
4) the views on and around the beach were awe-inspiring
5) the warm waves hitting made me feel as though I was taking a bath
The only thing I’d change? The FLIES! They bite, and they bite HARD.
Pro tip: bring bug spray to the Galápagos!
Instead of working a 9-5, Juan and I decided to spend a full day snorkeling in the Galápagos Islands!
Kicker Rock has an abundance of angel fish, sea turtles, sea lions and hammerhead sharks! Not only did we have amazing views, we were also welcomed by the nicest crew members and were able to meet three scuba divers: Anne-Marie, Lorraine and James.
Always try new things, because you never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll see along the way!
That’s right: my husband and I participated in some “glamorous camping” during our time in Chile!
Three years ago, I discovered a unique Airbnb that I immediately wanted to see. Mateo, a French-born man who now lives near Santiago with his wife and daughter, built a dome for people who want a once-in-a-lifetime experience under the Milky Way.
It was worth the wait because the dome was everything I was expecting and more! The bed was perfect for cooler nights, the clear area allowed for the dome to get warm during the day and unplugging was just what we needed. I could tell that Juan was just as thrilled to be there!
We stayed a total of three nights, and each provided us with the perfect opportunity to see the stars, drink herbal mint tea and enjoy each other’s company.
If you’re interested in staying here (which you should be by now!), please visit Mateo’s Airbnb link here: https://abnb.me/e2m8GMYAVW
Juan and I were only able to see a quick glimpse of Santiago, but Bellavista was our favorite barrio.
Before camping in the mountains, we headed to Bellavista – a hipster/artsy area of the big city – for a good meal. I heard that Como Agua Para Chocolate was highly recommended by locals, which is always better than the “typical touristy stuff.”
I can honestly say that this was the best meal I’ve ever had in South America (between Peru, Ecuador and Chile). The salmon had a delicious buttery sauce with the best sautéed vegetables… and the dessert spoke to me with it’s dark chocolate and raspberry sauces!
Bellavista is also recognized for its nightlife. We were exhausted since it was late when we arrived, but we did wonder around and view the unique street art.
The next morning we only had a limited time to enjoy Santiago, so we grabbed some quick breakfast and rode up to the top of the city.
We were camping in the Olmué area of Chile from May 10-13, but were able to see a little more of Santiago prior to our next flight on the 13th. Of course, we returned to Bellavista during the day to grab cappuccinos and a great seafood lunch!
As always, I wish I had more time in this one-of-a-kind place, but I know we’ll be back someday 🙂
La Campana National Park is located in Olmué, Chile. Charles Darwin actually hiked here after his visit to the Galápagos Islands. It’s a must-see if you’re in the area!
Juan and I hiked the 7-kilometer trail, but only made it to the 5-kilometer mark since it was the most difficult path. Going uphill was incredibly difficult and put my physical and mental stamina to the test. With that said, however, going downhill was even worse on my hips, knees and ankles.
The hike itself provided Juan and I with a modest 6.5-mile exercise! In total, we walked 12.4 miles yesterday, and boy am I feeling it today…
Pro tip: don’t go hiking if you have the flu. This made my hike much more intolerable than it needed to be!
Pro tip #2: go hiking with someJuan special. It’ll be double the fun! 🙂