A trip around the world + a chance at $1 million = Perfection.
This is the winning recipe that CBS has employed on its hit show The Amazing Race, which is airing for its 23rd race season. And for a travel lover with infinite wanderlust, the show, which airs Sundays at 8 p.m. Eastern/Pacific Time, is the perfect way to get new travel ideas and explore far flung countries from the comfort of your living room … at least until you can make that trip in person.
The general premise of the show is simple: 11 two-person teams ‘embark on a race around the world,’ according to host Phil Keoghan, for a chance to win $1 million. At every destination, teams have to complete a series of tasks quickly and correctly with the looming possibility that the last team to check into that leg’s pit stop will be eliminated from the race.
So every week this Travel Examiner will research the highlights of the area visited on that week’s episode of The Amazing Race, and I will share what I have learned.
An exploration of Chile
Geography: The country of Chile covers the vast majority of the Pacific Coast of South America. With over 3,000 miles of coastline stretching from Peru and Bolivia on the north to the southern region of Patagonia, commonly known as the end of the world.
Attractions and Culture: Chile is known for a number of cities and attractions. It’s beautiful wine country, primarily in the Curicó and Colchagua valleys produce wines that are touted throughout South America and the world. (When Anthony Bourdain visited the Curicó Valley on his hit show No Reservations, he all but swooned over the Chilean wines.) The local cuisine, especially the pork dishes, a strong part of Chilean culture. From Vina del Mar, a resort town, to Valparaiso, a small port city and UNESCO World Heritage Site, visitors have many options to choose from to sample the local cuisine and culture. And for the nature lovers, Chile is home to the Andes mountains as well as the gorgeous Patagonia region, which encompasses the southern most tip of South America (hence the end of the earth).
Iquique, Chile: During week one of The Amazing Race, teams competed in this small town in northern Chile. Iquique is a port city right on the Pacific Coast and is surrounded by the Atacama Desert. From paragliding (as seen on the show) to relaxing on the beach to museums and other cultural activities to simply indulging in the fresh seafood, there is much to do in this small town of just over 182,000 inhabitants (as of 2012).
Santiago, Chile: During week one of The Amazing Race, teams traveled to Santiago, the capital of Chile. Santiago offers rich culture, food and fellowship and is not a far trek from wine country. ‘[In Santiago] was the first time I ever had Carmenere [wine], which originated in France but is now Chile’s sort of signature wine. You can get it here but its not super common on wine lists but it’s all over the place in Chile, and really delicious,’ said Elizabeth Erickson, an attorney who lives in Los Angeles, who visited Chile several years ago. Looking to connect with a friend who was hiking Machu Picchu in Peru, Erickson opted for Chile as a meet up point that was relatively close to Peru and because ‘Chile seemed to have a good variety of places to visit with Santiago, the wine country, beaches, all within a reasonable driving distance of each other. Erickson also touted local favorites, like the wine and the food, especially the seafood in Vina del Mar.
How to Get There: Several airlines fly into Santiago’s Arturo Merino Benitez Airport (code: SCL), including American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines (through its partner COPA), LAN Chile, Aeromexico, Alaska Airlines and Air Canada. From Los Angeles, the flight is a minimum of 13 hours, usually Miami International or Atlanta on domestic carriers.