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Fiestas Patrias in Chile - What to do and how to recover

September in Chile brings the Fiestas Patrias, a two-day celebration of independence that often expands to fill a whole week. With parades, parties and a lot of drinking and eating, this is a great opportunity to get a taste for the best that Chile has to offer, but it can leave you feeling overindulged. Here are our top tips on how to enjoy the main attractions of this national holiday and the best ways to recover afterwards.


The Food 

Many Chileans celebrate Fiestas Patrias with a meaty barbecue, whilst doughy empanadas stuffed with a traditional mix of onion, beef, boiled egg and olives are almost mandatory. Finished off with an alfajor - a sandwich of sweet cookies filled with caramelised condensed milk - this is not a diet for the faint of heart.


The cure...

If you start to feel a little weighed-down, why not get back in shape with a trek in breathtaking Patagonia with a hiking tour. Cascada Expediciones offers five or seven-day treks of the classic W route in the Torres del Paine National Park, including accommodation at the ideally located EcoCamp Patagonia. For those who’ve really overdone it, they also offer a challenging Paine Circuit around the Paine Massif, which takes a full nine days.


With your pallet cleansed you can even extend your trip when you head back to Santiago to catch your return flight home with a gourmet cooking experience to taste some of Chile’s more refined culinary offerings just outside the capital. The gourmet chefs will even drop you off at the airport in the evening to catch your flight!


The Drink

Unusually, Chile’s ubiquitous pisco sour takes a backseat during the Fiestas Patrias to make way for the lightly alcoholic chicha. This sweet liquor is usually made with grapes, but is also made with apples in the South of Chile. Chicha is more readily available in supermarkets during the festivities so it’s definitely worth a try while it lasts, but as with any sweet wine it can leave you with a sore head.


The cure...

Cycling through the vineyards of the Maipo Valley combines gentle exercise and fresh air to create the perfect remedy for last night's excesses. Once you’ve recovered, you’ll have the chance to discover another of Chile’s famous drinks, vino! Visit the full range of Chile’s wineries by bike, from family-owned and traditional to a more contemporary option and even a 100% organic vineyard where you’ll sample wine direct from the tanks.


The Action

Santiago is where the action is during the Fiestas Patrias. Festivities officially kick-off on September the 18th with a religious ceremony in the Plaza de Armas, whilst a military parade on the 19th marks the grand finale, complete with marching bands and a deafening military flypast. In Parque O’Higgins you’ll find rows of fondas, or large decorated tents, where people sing and dance the national dance, the cueca.


The cure...

If all the noise leaves you with a bit of a headache, we suggest exploring the flora and fauna on a Patagonia wildlife safari of Chile’s less-inhabited far South. In Patagonia you’ll exchange the hustle and bustle of the city for the sound of gushing waterfalls and the whistling of the wind around your cosy EcoCamp dome. Trek and cycle through the Torres del Paine National Park on your EcoCamp Patagonia tour on the lookout for guanacos, ñandús and a whole host of other wildlife. If you’re very quiet, you might even spot the shy and elusive puma.