With so many worthy day trip destinations outside Santiago, it can be daunting to pick just one. With this full-day tour you don’t have to. Visit two coastal cities, UNESCO-listed Valparaiso and Viña del Mar with plenty of time to for some wine tasting in Casablanca Valley and sea lion spotting along Reñaca Beach.
You get what you pay for. There were several issues with the tour that just made the experience far less enjoyable. First, the general tardiness and delays. The reason for this is that at each stop, Juan would let us off the bus and say that we had 10 minutes or 15 minutes before we had to meet back up and go. Everyone would be waiting for the bus or crowded on near the street within the allotted time and the bus and Juan would be nowhere in sight. Each stretch of the tour that was supposed to be only a quick 10 minutes stop turned into 30 minute stretches of waiting around doing nothing. It became extremely tedious waiting around at different locations for our tour guide to come back and collect us even though he had said we would only have ten minutes at the stop. It felt like the entire day was spent just waiting around.
As another person shared, by lunchtime, we were all starving. They took us to Los Pomairinos Restaurant which has a one star on Yelp and for good reason. This is the biggest tourist trap with the most overpriced food I have ever seen. It really ruined the experience because it was so obvious that the tour company was taking advantage of us. For example, if you wanted a salmon filet, the sauces to put on the salmon like a chimichurri were an extra cost that was almost the same price as the fish.
Next, when we booked the tour, we specified that we needed an English-speaking tour guide and it appeared that we would be accommodated. We were very confused when our tour guide got on the bus because, with past experiences, tour guides would immediately recognize that we are English-speakers we are Asian, and would greet us and introduce himself in English. When we met Juan, he shook our hands and spoke in rapid Spanish that we could not follow. We spent the first half of our journey going to Valparaiso wondering if we would have go through the tour using our rudimentary Spanish. It wasn't until later did we realize that Juan doubled as the English tour guide. I went with my husband and sister and we all studied Spanish so we got around Chile fine, but we could tell that Juan would say all of these interesting things and joke around in Spanish and then when he transitioned into English, it was about two sentences about where we were going and how long it would take to get there. His English was not bad but the accent was so heavy that half the time we didn't realize he had transitioned from Spanish to English.
There was a walking tour of Valparaiso that took us through the different neighborhoods and up and down large hills. There were really nice panoramic views and interesting street shops. The issue was that Juan would stop and tell the English group where to go through the streets and then he would release us to walk by ourselves. Then, he would talk to the Spanish-speaking group and then let them go while he followed behind. This became chaotic as the streets of Valparaiso are difficult to follow and his directions were confusing. There were several times where Juan lost a few of the people in the group because they turned down wrong pathways or got left behind and then we had to wait again while he went out to find them. Once everyone caught up at the next checkpoint, Juan would do the same thing, releasing the English speakers first and then the Spanish speaking and the process would start all over again. It was like herding cats and completely unnecessary. There was no reason Juan could not have walked us through the streets as a group perhaps explaining the buildings and wall art as we walked. It was particularly annoying when we got to the funicular and our group was going down it 8 at a time and Juan passed us in line and casually told us that at the bottom we'd have to pay 100 pesos. Luckily, we had the change, but that information was not included in the tour description nor did Juan forewarn us before we got into the line for the funicular.
Lastly, this trip was advertised as being approximately 9 hours. We were picked up first at 7:25 a.m. so we estimated that we would return to our hotel at about 6:30 p.m. We had a flight to catch at 11:40 p.m. so we assumed this would be a great chance to see Valparaiso before we left Chile. We did not return until 8:00 p.m. and that was only because we asked Juan to drop us off first. By the time it was 6:00 p.m. and Juan still had not returned us to our bus, we had to tell him that we needed to be the first ones dropped of because we had a flight to catch. Juan protested and told us that we had to respect the other people in the tour. We told him that the tour description stated 9 hours and that they had not respected our time. On our way back, Juan made a big deal about saying that we were going to make a DETOUR and drop us off first at our hotel.
All in all, would not go again. We got to see Valparaiso cheap, but we learned our lesson.
the tour is very good and our guide Juan was very nice. we liked the route and everything.
It was a very hot day so we wanted some air conditioning in the van but the driver turn off the A/C or left it very low. this was not nice.
Other little thing is that we had a stop for lunch but it was very late and we were starving. we decided not to go to the restaurant they took us. we did not like the place. We went to another one but we had to eat very fast not to loose the meeting hour set. But the meeting hour was not respected by anyone else including the guide and driver. So we could have had more time for our lunch but we rush to come back and had to wait for almost one more hour to get everybody back in the van.