Our South American Adventure!

I am going to go a little off topic today to share some pics and details from our recent trip to South America!

Our South American Adventure on 100 Days of Real Food

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It’s no secret we like to travel, and while we’ve taken the kids on some fun trips in recent years it’d been a while since just the two of us were able to escape together. So, even though the timing of this trip turned out to be less than ideal (something that was hard to predict when I booked it with our airline miles almost a year ago!), we still made it happen – and I’m so glad we did.

First Stop: Valparaíso and Casablanca Valley

Our first time in South America was when we visited Argentina five years ago. We loved the experience so much we decided right then we’d have to come back to the Chilean side of Patagonia one day. We didn’t spend our whole Chile trip in Patagonia though and started things off in Valparaíso – a few hour drive west of Santiago.

Valparaíso is one colorful and hilly city (on the ocean) with LOADS of character. We knew from our time in Argentina that graffiti was rather common in that part of the world, but Valparaíso managed to turn it into an art form. Just check out some of the sights…

Valparaíso, Chile on 100 Days of Real Food

We also unexpectedly saw a lot of stray dogs, which looked surprisingly healthy and calm (considering)! I guess it’s pretty common there because the locals certainly didn’t seem phased by it at all. Check out how I got photobombed by one of the many stray dogs in this pic. Looks like he is almost posing with me, doesn’t it? :)

Valparaíso, Chile on 100 Days of Real Food

We also didn’t have to be in the country very long to figure out they boast a signature national cocktail …the Pisco Sour! Pisco is a style of brandy with a little bit of a tequila flavor. Here is my husband doing a quality check.

Pisco Sour on 100 Days of Real Food

Speaking of beverages, on our way back to the airport (in Santiago) we made a quick stopover in the lovely wine country …Casablanca Valley! We visited an organic and biodynamic vineyard (called Matetic) and loved exploring the grounds.

Casablanca Wine Country on 100 Days of Real Food

Next Up: Patagonia

After our first few days of fun it was time to head back east to the airport so we could make the (LONG) way down to the Patagonia region. Our destination was the insanely gorgeous Torres del Paine National Park, and it honestly took us as long to get there (from Santiago) as it did to get from our home in North Carolina to Chile in the first place. I promise though, it was totally worth it!

We headed to Patagonia to go on a guided hike on the famed “W” Trek. It’s called the “W” because it’s a multi-day hike through different valleys that would make a “W” outline if you were to trace them on the map (37 miles in total). And let me tell you …it was absolutely spectacular! One of our favorite travel experiences of all time.

Here are a few snapshots…

Patagonia on 100 Days of Real Food
We spotted something that looked like a volcano on the airplane ride down to Patagonia.
W Trek1 on 100 Days of Real Food
This was right as we approached the peak on the first hike …and believe it or not behind the camera was the snow capped mountain pictured at the top of this post! It was an insane 360 degree view.
Sunset on W Trek on 100 Days of Real Food
We saw a magnificent sunset (around 10pm) on our second night in the park.
Flowers on W Trek on 100 Days of Real Food
Our second hike (to see Grey Glacier) had these gorgeous wildflowers everywhere! I love wildflowers :)
W Trek on 100 Days of Real Food
This was at the top of our third (and final) hike. We could see the towers from a distance, but the crystal blue glacial lake was an incredible surprise!
W Trek on 100 Days of Real Food
And just when I thought things couldn’t get any more spectacular we woke up to this crazy vibrant rainbow (complete with a little cloud on the end!). We stayed in one of those domes at an eco camp, which was such a fun and unique experience.

Now can you see why we’re calling this one of our most favorite trips to date? It was an experience to remember. And it sure did help that we lucked out with such good weather on our hikes. Patagonia can be a pretty unpredictable place as far as weather goes – often with quickly changing temps and high winds! We were incredibly fortunate considering.

Last Stop: Santiago

Since it took an entire day to make our way back to Santiago from the park we stayed in the city for a couple days before heading home. We were honestly so tired and aren’t big city people so we spent the entire first day reading novels poolside (it’s summer there right now so how can you blame us?!). I basically never just do “nothing” at home so it was quite a treat. And then on our second (and last) day in Santiago we met up with my cousin who happened to be there on a business trip from Singapore. I don’t get to see him very often since he lives so far away …and what a crazy coincidence that our trips would overlap like that (the first time there for all of us!). It didn’t take long for us to introduce him to the Chilean Pisco Sour. :)

Trip to Chile on 100 Days of Real Food

Now I only wish our trip could have ended on a positive note, BUT our flight home was delayed several times before it was eventually cancelled at 4:30 in the morning. I am too old to stay up all night in the airport and really hurting this week as a result! I’ll spare you all the unpleasant details, but after a nightmarish experience (with the language barrier making things all that much more difficult) we ended up getting on a flight to Miami through Colombia and making our way home 14 hours later than planned. After the uncertainty of how we’d get out of there I’d never been so happy to be back on US soil in my life! As much as I love traveling there’s nothing like being back home with my babies (and my bed!).

The Food

The food was not a focus for me on this trip, although I was of course paying attention! I honestly wasn’t blown away by any one particular meal, but we did come to love the little tomato and cilantro spread (almost like a salsa) that was often served with bread at restaurants. We also noticed (and appreciated) Chile’s love for quinoa, fresh avocado, wheat berries, and salmon – they sure do like their quinoa served many different ways! My husband enjoyed civiche and octopus, and we also had our fair share of empanadas.

As usual I brought along plenty of travel snacks and a big ol’ bag of homemade granola to supplement meals when necessary. And I’m so glad I did because I had not been on a flight that served food in a while and forgot how BAD it can be. Breakfast on our flight down there was basically a sugar bomb (including a “muffin top” with the first ingredient being sugar). So after examining those options I happily asked for a cup of milk that I could pour my granola into. I did my best to eat real food when I could, but it’s certainly not easy when you’re eating out for every meal! Being able to make home cooked meals again is just one more reason I’m glad to be home.

Airplane Food on 100 Days of Real Food

Well, that pretty much sums up the highlights of our adventure. We feel so fortunate to have had the experience and are doing our best to immerse ourselves back into reality this week!

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17 thoughts on “Our South American Adventure!”

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  1. Hi Lisa, I know you meet so many peeps, but I met you at Poplar Ridge Farms back in 2011 when you were preparing for your Asia trip. It has been such a thrill to read your posts and so excited for your success. Amazing pictures and adventure! Food is part of everything we do and I love your posts about your trips, as well as everything you write about! I wrote a post about our trip to the Galapagos Islands in 2014, the most incredible trip for us and we love to travel as well. Patagonia is on my bucket list! Keep rocking girl and posting. Cheers! Kary~

    1. Thanks for your comment and for being such a longtime follower Kary! I will have to check out your post about Galapagos. Gotta figure out what’s going to be on our radar for our next adventure :)

  2. Looks like a fun trip. Thanks for sharing. My family & I are going to Costa Rica on a mission trip in March. How did you pack your food & how did you get it through customs? My family & I have been eating real food for quite a while. Although, I don’t expect food to be a problem while we are in country, traveling and getting real food may pose a real challenge.

    Thanks for your suggestions!

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi there. Every country is going to be different. I carried an entire carry on stuffed with nuts and granola into Italy without incident. I just returned from a week in Costa Rica and found the same to be true.

  3. That looks amazing. I hiked Kilimanjaro in 2014 and always looking for another hiking trip. Which company did you use as a guide?

  4. If experience is a guide, you’ll forget the awful ending to the trip. We’ve had a couple of colossal bummers getting home but after a couple of months all we remember is the fun trip, separate from the ending. Sounds like a lot of fun! The views in the photos are gorgeous, so they must be a hundred times better in person. Wow!