Latin America Adventure – third stop, Lima

After the Singular, we stayed overnight at a small hotel ‘Hotel Ilaia’ in Punta Arenas as our flight was for a 6am departure. It’s run by a mother and daughter team  – extremely hospitable and the hotel is located near the downtown area, which is 30 mins from the airport.  Sadly, we arrived at 9pm so we quickly got ready to rest for a 4.30am start the next day. They don’t speak much English so a few handy words in Spanish is highly recommended to arrange a taxi and to pay to pay the taxi CASH so make sure you keep some spare pesos! We needed to make this overnight stay because The Singular located in Puerto Natales – which was still another 2 hours away from the airport at Punta Arenas….. Once you are in Chile, you realise people drive great distances all the time (2-4hrs one way easily).. it’s the norm.  Having lived in Singapore for over 3 years… 4hours gets you to KL!

We flew out from Punta Arenas at 6am to Lima, Peru. We were planning to fly over to Lake Titicaca via the airport at Juliaca. And the rule is that you have to fly through capital cities when coming from another country in South America…. … thus, do build this into your itinerary for time consideration… you do end up staying a night here and there invariably. Our first impression of Lima is that  it’s definitely not as ‘safe’ as our little cocoon in the Patagonian region of Chile.  Lima is a big city with lots of immigrants and you can sense it the moment you land. Most local’s have their luggage cling wrapped, presumably to guard against theft and smuggling. You need to screen your luggage to exit the airport – each one of us had to which you can imagine, caused a big delay in leaving the airport….  not really well streamlined.

We bee lined ourselves to the taxi limo queue to arrange for a drop off to the Boutique Hotel ‘Second Home‘  run by Lillian Delphin. It’s in an arts district of Lima and we reckoned it would take us 40 minutes to get there. Our taxi driver got lost!!! … and we ended up arriving at our destination after over an hour. Needless to say, Mr K was not a happy bunny… but still. we’d rather be IN the cab than out of the cab. We drove through some rather dodgy looking neighbourhood, lots of incompletely construction and derelict homes…. most of the shops, if not all the shops had metal bars on the doors and windows.

Realisation – Boom… we are back to the big cities… certainly a far cry from Patagonia where we saw only a handful of people on a daily basis…..nature vs. urban jungle.

To be fair, we’ve read a lot about Lima and it’s art scene so we were looking forward to it. After we checked in, we walked around our neighbourhood which was a pleasant up and coming art area, lots of galleries, small boutique shops and quite a lot of American influence… we even saw a cupcake shop next to a … Taco shop haha.   The particular hotel we are staying is run by the daughter of a famous Peruvian sculptor Delphin. She’s extremely well learned and educated. We enjoyed our breakfast encounter with her and told her a little bit about Singapore… she was a thin lady, with dark attractive eyes…. a arty type, almost French looking but Peruvian of course. The hotel is actually the grounds for a museum by day, with huge sculptures scattered in the balcony, gardens and all four corners of the home. It’s truly spectacular and a sight to be behold.

If you ever get to visit Lima, stay in the art district and say hello to Lillian for us – not too many make it there from Singapore 🙂

Second Home Lima

Second Home Lima

Latin America Adventure – 2nd stop, Puerto Natales, Chile

After the Explora, we arranged a transfer to The Singular which is located in Puerto Natales. The Singular is a new luxury hotel located within the premised of an old European cold room which housed all the meats which were to be exported to Europe from that part of Chile.

The property is an impressive long architecture  – each room faced the peer which  juts out into Last Hope Sound.  When we arrived, it was evening and I could see the lights on the jetty – it was a moody grey evening – stunning to see through ceiling to floor windows. The bedrooms were really luxurious and spacious – twice the size of the rooms we had in Salto Chico.  We can see how the guides at Explora were so excited for us when we told them this was our next stop. They told it was it ‘really luxury’… and by then, we had already thought the Explora’s Salto Chico was luxury…..

But I can understand their meaning after arriving at The Singular – first of all you will be impressed with the entrance – a glass elevantor brings to you the front desk which was like a top rated restaurant reception area. Mood lighting and spot lighting on specific historical objects and artefacts illuminate the hallway.   It’s less of the ‘lodge’ and more of the boutique hotel you might find in big cities.  But… don’t forget we are at the end of the Earth here… and this used to be… essentially an abattoir, cold room for exports – not glam at all. So whomever thought of converting this building into a hotel had the project cut out for them. The end results was impressive and achieved what the owners were hoping for – something luxurious and special in Peurto Natales.

view from our room

view from our room at The Singular

As we arrived after trekking part of the W inside the Torres Del Paine, we headed straight for dinner. The restaurant was the thing that completely amazed me – it was like dining at the Ritz Carlton in London. The dining room was decked in oak, walnut long tables and antique chairs with red velvet and rich colours to warm up even the coldest of nights. It was an open kitchen and I can see the chef and the staff working away, cooking up a storm. I couldn’t wait to get stuck in!  The food surpassed our expectation in that, it was really comparable to some of the restaurants we’ve had as fine dining in France and Italy from the Chateaux Relais guide. After a hard day’s trek, my toes were curling with delight… to be pampered with amazing food in a beautiful setting – that reminds me of the ‘Downtown Abbey’  🙂

Smoke Salmon with salmon caviar

Whilst staying with the Singualr, we choose several activities tailored to our needs as we are no longer grouped with other people. We had a guide decidicated to look after us for the next 2 days. So we went cycling in the morning and then horse riding for about 3 hours in the afternoon. Horse riding with our guide ‘Cherchin’ was one of our most memorable days… it was the feeling of absolute bliss… freedom, outdoors and wilderness… the feeling of ‘life’ from the concrete jungle. The wildlife and fauna here is something we are incapable of dreaming of…. Small stunted dried up trees were like museum objects littered everywhere, bright yellow fungus growing on the tree branches, sheep and ox and brightly coloured birds in green, yellow and blue flying above our heads… not to mention condors souring above us during our ride.

As there’s only two of us, we practically had private lessons… by the end of the day, our horses cantered and galloped 🙂 and we can’t have asked for a better day.

Horse Riding with CherChin

Horse Riding with CherChin

We would highly recommend those who need a little pampering and a bit of luxury now and then to stay at The Singular – it’s truly customised service for the discerning travellers.

You won’t regret even a minute, we promise.

Puerto Natales

Puerto Natales