Chile: The Central Valley

We were longing for the sea again and detoured to Conception on our way to the Central Valley. Quite frankly it was a total waste of time. With roadworks the whole way from Ruta 5 to Conception and lots of stop / go control points operating.  It turned out to be just another busy city! However, we did find a few fittings we needed at a huge hardware store to get a Chilean camping gas cylinder compatible with our USA camper. I performed a successful bypass operation when our Argentinian gas ran out!
We left Conception for inland using a different route, but not knowing where we’d stay that night. Back on the Ruta 5 we opted for a filling station! But our preference, Copec,  wouldn’t allow us to sleep there. We went further down the highway to a Terpel garage and slept around the back under some lovely trees. It was quiter there away from the traffic. Along the highway are stops where you can purchase snacks and cooldrinks. You are alerted by these colourful flags.

We wanted to visit a market in Talca, highly recommended in guide books. It looked exciting as we drove past with many picture opportunities. It was impossible to park anywhere! So once again we had to abandon any attempt to do anything in a large town.

We changed our plans for Christmas and headed off Ruta 5 again towards the sea, hoping to find a quite venue. We arrived at a large campsite at Los Cabras next to a beautiful lake, and luckily there were only two other couples there. The camp manager warned us that on Christmas day it would be almost full with day visitors. True to his word, it filled up as the day progressed.

So we also enjoyed a wonderful Christmas Day and Solveig’s birthday just chilling. So different from home where Christmas has always been a hectic day of cooking and eating.
We’d done about 3500kms since Buenos Aires and I needed the break too.  That night, as the crowds returned home, we had a hot meal for Christmas; Bacon, Eggs, Tomato and Banana on toast! The birthday girl’s choice!! It tasted so good too.
Since being in Chile we’ve noticed that the drink and drive laws whicht don’t allow even one drink, have other benefits too. People are well behaved, there’s no swearing, unruly behaviour, and there’s far less littering in public spaces.

The route we’d chosen to the coast was a good one. The road wound it’s way through the beautiful Central Valley. Trellised wine lands and fruit trees the whole way. What a treat! 

There were lots of farm stalls along the way and the roads were lined with trees, hydrangeas and other familiar flowers.


Like the thistle!


We even came across a farm growing proteas in tunnels!

We’d selected a campsite near to Valparaiso on a peninsula at Lago Verde. Very “rustic”. It was like wild camping! But the setting made up for the lack of finess.

In the small town of Lago Verde we came across this park filled with exercise equipment. Solveig and I both needed the exercise as we spend so much time just sitting while travelling.


Valparaiso was stunning

Lots of old buildings.

and much more manageable than we imagined it would be, considering it was the Saturday after Christmas.

The hills in Valparaiso are steep and there are lots of them.

We continued on to Vina del Mar, a few kilometers north. Often at traffic lights there’s entertainment while the lights are red.

Everybody was in such a good mood.

We figured that the Sunday would be a good day to visit one or two places in Santiago while everyone was on holiday, and headed inland. We camped in Olmue,  about 45 km out of the city.  Sunday turned out to be a good choice as it was quiet.

In the centre of the city was this fruit and veggie market in a park.

We really enjoyed Santiago. Not wanting to experience the usual razzmatazz of big cities, we were looking for something unique and special. We chose the Pueblito Artesanal Los Dominicos.

Repuditally, with the best upmarket Crafts market in Chile. Didn’t buy anything though…. but enjoyed looking.

Early afternoon we headed north once again in the general direction of Los Vilos on the coast. It took longer than expected and we opted for a rest stop on the way. Rest stops, found alongside the highway, are grassed and treed, have braai areas, tables and chairs, and toilets with hot showers.  They are frequented by truckers, although many families stop there for awhile to let their children unwind on the jungle gyms, swings and roundabouts. It also made a good, safe overnight stop for us. And it was for free!

Author: Ian & Solveig's Overland Adventures

Although we never achieved our original goal of reaching Norway overland through Africa, our experience was so unexpectedly rewarding that we've not been able to settled down again! So we added new destinations to our lust for adventure. We hope that you will join us in sharing new exciting places and encounters with the amazing people we meet along the way.

One thought on “Chile: The Central Valley”

  1. just love reading about your travels and seeing your great pics – the weather certainly looks as if it has played ball too – glad you managed to find a good stop for the Xmas/birthday 🙂

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