James was delighted to welcome Adrian Phillips and his top travel insights to his house again for James Martin’s Saturday Morning on 22nd February 2020. Here are all the details you need to know to book your trip!
The Carretera Austral (Chile)
To read Adrian’s article about his road trip along the Carretera Austral, see here https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/travel/2017/03/chile-wild-rolling-eyed-beast-route
British Airways runs direct flights from Heathrow to Santiago four times a week, from £680 return. Several other airlines fly to Santiago indirectly, with one stop.
The only commercial airport on the Carretera Austral is Balmaceda, near Coyhaique. Domestic carriers are LATAM Airlines and Sky Airline. Car hire is available at Balmaceda airport through companies including Europcar. One-way rentals tend to be significantly more expensive, so arrange to start and finish at the same point. The vehicle should have decent ground clearance.
When to go:
The Carretera Austral can be visited from November to March, but the peak season is January and February, when prices are highest.
Tourist office website: www.aysenpatagonia.cl
Chile: The Carretera Austral by Hugh Sinclair (published by Bradt; £17.99; www.bradtguides.com) is the only dedicated guidebook, and provides full information on what to see and how to arrange a trip.
How to do it:
Swoop Patagonia (https://www.swoop-patagonia.com/chile/aysen; 0117 369 0196) offers a self-drive tour from £2,750 pp, including camping and hotel accommodation, 4WD car hire, boat trips to the Marble Caves and Laguna San Rafael, snorkelling in the Cochrane River, two days’ horse-riding and a dawn excursion to a condor nursery.
Pura Aventura (https://www.pura-aventura.com/latin-america/chile; 01273 676712) has a 15-day self-drive trip for around £4,500pp, as well as other itineraries in the region.
Patagonia Big Five (http://www.patagoniabigfive.com/; + 56 9 94997678) is a company run by a team of wildlife conservationists. They can organise tailor-made wildlife tours in southern Patagonia, including photo safaris.
The natural harbour town of Tolo is a good base for exploring the region. The nearest airport to Tolo is Kalamata International, which is served by airlines including British Airways and easyJet. Flights take around 3½hours.
There is a network of local buses, and it is simple enough to travel from Tolo to places like the romantic town of Nafplio. There is also a sightseeing ferry running a service to Nafplio, including in the evening. Places like Nemea are a little more remote, and are more easily accessed if you have a hire car.
When to go:
The high season is July and August, when the beaches are busiest and the temperatures can be very hot. It’s worth considering a spring or autumn visit – the sea can be warm enough to swim from April onwards, and prices will be cheaper in these shoulder seasons.
Modern Nemean Games:
The next Modern Nemean Games – where competitors of all ages and fitness levels compete (barefoot and wearing Greek togas) in races inside the original amphitheatre at Nemea – takes place 26-28 June 2020. You can register to take part, and find full details at www.nemeangames.org
Greece: The Peloponnese by Andy Bostock (published by Bradt; £15.99; www.bradtguides.com) is the only standalone guidebook to the region, and provides full information on what to see and do.
How to do it:
Sunvil(www.sunvil.co.uk; 020 8758 4758) is a tour operator that specialises in trips to the Greek Peloponnese. If you’re planning to visit with children, they have packages during school summer holidays (July and August 2020) staying at Stella Apartments in Tolo – overlooking the ocean – costing from £894 pp for 7 nights and £946 pp for 14 nights (four sharing – two adults and two children). This includes self-catering accommodation, return flights, transfers, use of bicycles and two hours of motorboat hire. Prices are lower outside school holidays.