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5th April
written by Hazel

The day after the San Fernando Vendimia was my dad’s last day with us.  We decided to have a final birdwatching expedition to try to get the number of species seen up – after all, we had a bet.  We headed back up north towards Santiago and went to the Rio Clarillo National Park to try our luck.  On our way we had to stop for one last reineta lunch, which was really tasty, but HUGE.

Up to this point I haven’t explained about the road signs in Chile.  Or the maps.  Navigating in this country is surprisingly difficult.  There is an unpleasant trend for stuff to be signposted once or twice and then the signs just disappear.  And then there is a T junction and you have to randomly pick a way to go.  And then when you finally realize you’re going the wrong way you turn around and realize that there are more signs to where you are going, but you couldn’t possibly have seen them from the direction you came in.  Many towns are not marked on the maps (we had a map in the guidebook and one we bought).  You pretty much need a combination of lucky guesses, a willingness to turn around several times, and a lot of extra time.  It can be hugely frustrating and very time consuming to get anywhere.  We managed ok, but on this trip to the park we spent over an hour lost if you count both coming in and going out.  We made it eventually though.

The park was nice enough.  We didn’t see many birds, but did do a nice hike.  Justin got to test out his new hat which he had bought at the wine festival after losing his first one.

Justin in his slick new hat

View from our hike

On the way back to Santiago to head to the airport my dad did the final tally for our birdwatching bet.  The final count was…86 species!  This was lower than any of our guesses, but I came the closest with my guess of 93.  My dad thinks this could be in part because of the time of year here.  Apparently autumn can be slow for birds if the ones that migrate have left already.  We also were unable to do a pelagic birding boat trip, which would have likely given us quite a few more species.  The good news is that we saw a lot of cool and unique birds which do not live up north and were hopefully worth coming to Chile for.

It was so sad to say goodbye to my dad.  We really loved traveling around with him and learning so much about birds!  We also, of course, miss friends and family and it was wonderful to get to spend some time with my dad!  We made it to the airport in plenty of time, dropped off the rental car, drank some wine that we had bought along the way, and saw him off for his plane. 

By this point Justin and I were so exhausted that we did something we are a little embarrassed to admit.  It was getting dark fast and we didn’t have a hostel booked and couldn’t get on the internet to book one and taxis in Santiago are apparently a total scam for tourists (the hostel we had stayed at told us not to get in them as they aren’t very safe) and we were at the airport which is about a 30 minute drive from the city and I had promised to phone a friend that night and needed reliable internet to do it.  So, we walked across the street and got a room at the very expensive Holiday Inn at the airport.  It was a moment of weakness and TOTALLY worth it.  I got to make my Skype calls, there was a giant, very clean shower and a huge room with a really comfy bed.  We slept for about 12 hours.

The next day we had a lot more energy and we headed into the city to get some things done!  Anyhow, to make a kind of boring story short, we’ve been in Santiago for the past week.  We pretty much have to stay in the city since Justin’s passport is with the Brazilian embassy so that he can get a visa for Brazil.  He has also had the chance to do a little work from the road, so I’ve had some time to get the blog properly updated, upload some more photos and get a good look at this city.

Highlights have been:

Museo de Bellas Artes

It has been really nice to have some time to get caught up and even to research where we’re going and what we’re up to next.  We’ll be in the city a day or two more and then head off for the next adventure.


  1. Bob D

    86 sounds like a lot to me

  2. Hazel

    To me too! I guess that’s why I had the lowest guess. And that’s 86 species, not individual birds. We saw thousands of birds. Really fun to be out with an expert who can explain everything!

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