Santa Cruz, in the heart of Chile
September is Chile’s national month, when the country enjoys an entire week of vacations to celebrate the first government independent from Spain in American soil. While Chileans take these few days off to travel to different countries and to destinations closer by, there are places which keep that traditional spirit alive all year.
Santa Cruz is one of them. Located in the middle of the Colchagua Valley, this small city has been able to take advantage of all its geographic attractions to become a complete and interesting tourism circuit, only two hours away from Santiago.
Although it is a small city, Santa Cruz is known today as an oasis of tradition where you can enjoy modern infrastructure and the beauty of the Chilean countryside, all at the same time, while you try exquisite typical meals, made with natural and national products.
The development in tourism began about five years ago with the design and construction of very modern hotel in the city. Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza is located in the main street of town, where it offers modern and elegant installations that have absolutely nothing to envy of the hotels in the capital.
The hotel also features an international cuisine restaurant where you can try typical food of the area, such as empanadas, corn pie, pisco sour and taste different types of exquisite Chilean wine.
Next to the hotel you can find the Colchagua Museum, where you can see a permanent exhibition of archaeological findings and the history of the city, with religious images and instruments found in the area. In the outside, you can see a pair of trains and enjoy the country weather standing amongst cartwheels, adobe walls and farms with animals.
Santa Cruz is also concerned about its countryside and what is produced there. It is in this area where visitors can get to know more about the wine making process, riding in the Wine Train.
Without a doubt, the biggest attraction of the area, the Wine Train is an on-going project that connects San Fernando and Peralillo. The trip allows visitors to see old railways that were used for most of the past century, riding through smaller towns and ending the trip at the heart of the wine producing area.
Traditional air blows all around the city. Throughout the narrow streets you can see craft stands, inns, places where you can eat and drink, and vineyards, all of which add tourism interest to the city.
It is possible to cover Santa Cruz and its surroundings on foot, by car or on horseback. This last option is the most recommended one, considering that the trip is meant to impregnate tourists with the simple countryside vibe, where the air is pure and landscapes are purely Chilean, filled with trees and hills all around you.
Besides the city itself, you can visit nearby towns, such as Las Estancias, which are four ranch-like farms that used to be occupied for cattle and agriculture in colonial times. You can also visit La Patagua, 14 miles away from Santa Cruz, where you can go on a tourism circuit that lasts five hours and that takes you through vineyards, wine cellars and natural creeks.
Another place to visit is Apalta, only six miles away from Santa Cruz, where you can see vestiges of aborigine cultures of the central area. It is a small and quiet town, where people are able to survive working on agriculture and producing fruit and wine.
To see and enjoy the most ancient traditions of the central area, Santa Cruz and its surroundings are the best place to visit, and not necessarily in September.
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