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Penguin Island, Zapallar, Chile

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Penguin Island, Zapallar, Chile
photo by Andrew Collins
One of the great day-trips worth making from the increasingly gay-popular city of Santiago, Chile or its nearby and quite smart seaside beach resort of Vina del Mar is up the coast to the charming little town of Zapallar. From this vantage point, along the beach south of Zapallar in the village of Cachagua, you can see Penguin Island, a national penguin preserve - yes, those little specks pictured on the rocks, against the sunset, are Humboldt penguins.

While you're out this way, you can also cut a bit inland for a hike at the rugged La Campana National Park, which has trails leading up to waterfalls and sweeping overlooks. In the small town of Zapallar, there's outstanding dining at the seafood restaurant not far away called El Chiringuito, which serves terrific shellfish (including the locally famous dish, razor clams) and has wonderful views overlooking the water. This is a great trip if you're looking for a fun adventure that's not too far from Santiago - you can rent a car and make the journey yourself, or Santiago Adventures (tel. 802-904-6798 in the United States, or 56-2-244-2750 in Chile) is a highly reliable tour company that offers regular excursions out to Zapallar, the penguin preserve, and La Campana National Park.

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