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Originally published Friday, December 9, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Days of wine and lakes in Chile

Making the most of a quick trip to Chile

McClatchy Newspapers

quotes "To the South, the Maipo Valley is home to Santa Rita, Conchy & Toro" ... Read more
quotes A trip to the coast to Vina del Mar is also recommended. Great seafood. Read more
quotes The drive north of the city through Los Andes and up winding Highway 60 to the Portillo... Read more

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By Jane Wooldridge

Q: My wife and I are going to Chile to spend a few days with our daughter, who is attending a study program in Valparaiso. We have four days between the time our daughter goes back to school and our flight to Buenos Aires, where I'm attending a conference. We will already have spent a few days in Santiago, so we're looking for something else to do. What do you recommend?

— R.K.

A: One of the most beautiful places in the world, in my opinion, is Torre del Paine National Park in Southern Chile. Getting there involves both a flight plus a long drive — so unless you can figure out a way to carve out a few more days, that probably won't work for you.

Here are a few other options:

If you're into wine travel, you could drive a couple of hours north or south of Santiago; each direction offers a terrific wine experience where you can stay in a historic hacienda-style estate and make forays to various local vineyards. The Colchagua Valley to the north has created an easy-to-follow wine route (www.rutadelvino.cl), based out of Santa Clara. To the South, the Maipo Valley is home to Santa Rita, Conchy & Toro, Underraga and other well-known makers of lusty reds that also give tours.

You could also catch a flight to Puerto Montt to visit the lake district, or — if you can get space on the limited flights — fly five hours west to Easter Island. The country's official tourism website is www.chile.travel.

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