Best Places To Go Wine Tasting In The Colchagua Valley: Viña Montes

Exploring the vineyards at Vina Montes, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Feng shui, gregorian chants and delicious wines – Viña Montes in the Colchagua Valley isn’t your average winery.

“We can walk there,” I said after looking at the map. “It’s a couple of hours away, but the sun is out, and we’ll be able to explore those beautiful vineyards we saw from the bus yesterday. A little romantic adventure!”

I could tell my other half wasn’t convinced, but sometimes when I have one of my ‘bright ideas’ it’s best not to question it. The plan: to walk from the town of Santa Cruz in the heart of Chile’s wine region, the Colchagua Valley to Viña Montes – one of the premier. It wasn’t on our original plan, but the owner of our B&B said it really was one of the best places to go wine tasting in the Colchagua Valley.

Vina Montes, Colchagua Valley, Chile
Vina Montes, Colchagua Valley, Chile

So off we went. Flash forward 20 minutes and we’d worked up a thirst, a sweat, and appeared to be wandering through an industrial estate on the outskirts of town. Mechanics attempted to rescue rusting old motors while construction workers hammered bits of metal. Not the best start to our romantic walk through the vineyards. 30 minutes in and we appeared to be on a hard shoulder. Cars, lorries and buses raced past, churning up dust and dirt, almost knocking us over with the motion. Lining the main road – lush green vineyards and fields of fruit trees separated from us by hedges, fences, and, at one point, a rather ferocious looking dog.

We continued our sticky hard shoulder wanderings until we spotted a bus which took us a little closer, before being picked up by a friendly local who saw the universal hitchhiking sign – the thumbs up.

Entrance to Vina Montes, Colchagua Valley, Chile
Entrance to Vina Montes, Colchagua Valley, Chile
Vina Montes, Colchagua Valley, Chile
Vina Montes, Colchagua Valley, Chile

He kindly dropped us at the entrance, and an hour and a half after leaving Santa Cruz we made it to Vina Montes in Apalta. I prayed that they wouldn’t judge our appearance as we arrived for the wine tour… and that it lived up to our B&B owner’s recommendations as the best wine tour in the Colchagua Valley!

It was a striking setting; beyond the rows and rows of vines was a flat roofed architectural dream of a building, with something reminiscent of a moat and drawbridge leading to an enormous front door. If Disney produced wine, this would be the fairy-tale vineyard! Little did I know, water was a key feature of the Montes experience… but hang on, weren’t we here for the wine?!

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Top 5 Places To Visit In The Atacama Desert, Chile

El Valle De La Luna, Atacama, Chile

Unlike anywhere else on the planet, with its rugged landscapes, geysers and lagoons, these are the best places to visit in the Atacama Desert, Chile.

This region of northern Chile is a place full of magic, wonder, and photos just waiting to be taken. When I arrived, I just couldn’t believe the variety of landscapes. Where else in the world do you have epic salt caves, close to vast sand dunes, impressive lagoons, volcanoes, salt flats and geysers. Oh and of course there’s the desert too – officially named the ‘driest place on earth’.

As you can imagine, it’s a region packed full of things to do. I’d recommend spending around a week in the Atacama Desert. It’ll give you a bit of time to acclimatise (after all, this is a region at high altitude) as well as venture off on a few exciting day trips.

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A Tour Of Atacama’s Salt Flats and Altiplanic Lagoons

Miscanti Lagoon Northern Chile

Find out everything you need to know before visiting Atacama’s salt flats and altiplanic lagoons.

Deep blue lagoons surrounded by salt, flanked by towering volcanoes. Chile is a country that continued to surprise and delight me day after day.

The Atacama region is ALL about landscapes. After ticking off active volcanoes, bubbling geysers and lunar valleys, it was time to head off for a day of salt flats and lagoons.

We booked our tour with Viator, and just after 9am, local tour guide Tote collected us from our hostel in San Pedro De Atacama. Over the course of seven hours we would visit the traditional village of Toconao, step foot on Chile’s largest salt flats, see flamingos in the wild at Chaxa Lagoon, before checking out the extremely photogenic Miscanti and Miñiques lagoons (also known as Chile’s altiplanic lagoons. On board a comfy minibus (me glued to the window as usual!) we headed 30 minutes south to the small village of Toconao.

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El Valle de la Luna, Chile – The Moon Valley: A Travel Guide

El Valle De La Luna, Atacama, Chile

It’s time to travel to El Valle de la Luna in Northern Chile.

Rugged lunar landscapes, sand dunes, deep valleys and salt caves. Welcome to Chile‘s Atacama Desert – the driest place on earth.

It’s not everyday you feel like you’ve departed this planet, for another. It’s a feeling I’ve experienced once before when I visited Cappadocia in Turkey, ballooning over the bizarre moon-like rock formations.

Hot Air Ballooning in Cappadocia, Turkey
Hot Air Ballooning in Cappadocia, Turkey

When I reached the Atacama region of northern Chile I genuinely felt like I’d landed on the moon… or Mars… or anywhere really, but Chile.

After flying from Santiago to Calama, we hopped on a bus to the tourist town of San Pedro de Atacama, right in the heart of the Atacama Desert. As I walked down the town’s main street I was overwhelmed by the number of tour companies, each with the same offerings. In short, you can’t visit this part of the world and not see the picture perfect lagoons, salt flats, bubbling geysers and the lunar valley.

Taking A Tour Of El Valle De La Luna

12 hours on from my 4am trip to El Tatio Geysers, it was time to hop back on board the bus to tour El Valle de la Luna – the moon valley. I was pleased to be reunited with Veronica – our warm, friendly tour guide from that morning.

This tour would take us to see salt caves, rock formations, sand dunes and finish with sunset over the lunar valley. But could anything top the morning’s geyser tour…?

Sunrise at El Tatio Geysers, Chile
Sunrise at El Tatio Geysers, Chile (Photo: @BackpackerMacca)

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A Magical Sunrise Tour of El Tatio Geysers, Chile

El Tatio Geysers at sunrise, Chile

It’s time to take a sunrise tour of El Tatio Geysers in Northern Chile.

Visiting El Tatio Geysers At Sunrise

As I set my alarm for 4am, and rolled over in Hostel Desert – our cute little base in San Pedro de Atacama, I felt excited for the next day’s events. Over the past year or so of travel blogging I’d visited Costa Rican waterfalls, Guatemalan volcanoes, Mayan ruins, medieval Croatian cities and been swimming in several oceans, lakes and rivers. Up until now though, I’d never seen a geyser. In fact, I didn’t really know what a geyser was.

At an altitude of 4320m, 90km north of San Pedro de Atacama in Chile and just a few metres from the Bolivian border, is El Tatio (geiser del tatio). It’s the world’s third largest geyser field, and home to 80 active geysers. It’s aptly named too – El Tatio is a native American word for ‘oven’, and in an ancient lost language means ‘old man who cries’.

What Is A Geyser?

Well, as I looked out at sunrise, I’d describe it as an eerie area of land filled with bubbling pockets of water and steaming gases. Geysers occur when cold underground rivers hit hot rocks, heating and projecting the water up to the surface. As we were in a volcanic region in the Andes Mountains, it was hardly surprising to find them here.

El Tatio Geysers, Chile
El Tatio Geysers, Chile

But let’s go back to the beginning. It was 4am, I was deep in the heart of the Atacama Desert with just constellations for illumination, and wearing as many layers as I could for warmth. We were heading to high altitude for sunrise… and from what I’d heard, it was going to be cold.

Booking A Tour To Visit El Tatio Geysers At Sunrise

We chose to book with a popular tour operator. Once on board a minibus, friendly tour guide Veronica introduced herself, then suggested we catch a few zzzs as the journey would take around an hour and a half. Never a good napper (and full of beans at 4.30am – much to my other half’s annoyance), I attempted to take in the landscape. Yes it was pitch black, but occasionally there was an ominous silhouette of a volcano, or a new view of the spectacularly starry night sky.

Driving To El Tatio Geysers At Sunrise

I’m not going to lie, as someone who suffers with travel sickness, this journey was a tough one! The roads were incredibly bumpy and full of bends, leaving me very jealous of the dozing passengers around me. As we neared the entrance to the geyser site, the sun started to rise casting beautiful glimmers of light over the mountains. This was the start of an extremely magical day.

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