When traveling to another country, isn’t it important to immerse yourself in the local culture? While some people are happy to just lay on the beach, shop for souvenirs, and party at night, my philosophy has always been, “What’s the point of traveling all that way if not to experience what the culture has to offer?”
If you’re thinking about looking for your next travel destination, may I suggest a visit to Chile? There is a quaint town on the Chilean coast called Valparaiso. It is also known as the “Jewel of the Pacific.”
It is here where you can experience an adventure of a lifetime with a Valparaiso offbeat walking tour. There are a multitude of these tours to choose from, and there is definitely something for everyone who wants to take a behind-the-scenes look at a culture from the local point of view.
Arranging Your Tour
Many of the tours do not require reservations, and you can just show up at the scheduled time. Each tour has their own hours of operation, some running twice a day every day if they are half-day tours. One company did say they don’t run trips on Sunday mornings as the area is sometimes full of annoying drunks! So just be sure to find out in advance when the tour you decide to go on is in operation.
Fancy a Street Art Tour? Why not plan your tour now with Valpo Street Art.
Some of these tours also continue to run regardless of the weather—or various other conditions. One company said their tour went on as planned, even during days of disruptive political protests.
What to Bring
- You’ll definitely want to be comfortable, and you’ll most likely put in several hours of walking. It would be a good idea to wear sneakers, or some other comparable footwear
- A camera is a must with all of the awesome scenery and street art you’ll be seeing
- A backpack to hold a bottle of water or a quick snack.
- Tip money
There is a vast price range for these types of tours. Some of them are offered at no cost, but you are expected to leave a generous tip if you felt it was worth your time. On the higher end, it could cost more than $200. The costs can be reflective of the amount of stops that are made, and also what each stop entails. For comparison:
- One trip includes seven stops, 30 to 40 minutes each, a harbor cruise, and transportation to and from Santiago (a 1.5 hour drive each way). This one costs about $220
- Another one has two stops, 60 minutes each, and includes a stop at a vineyard, for about $54
Valparaiso, called Valpo by the locals, is the cultural capital of Chile. It is a port city made up of forty-two hills around a bay, and you can take in remarkable ocean vistas from the top of these hills.
“How will I get to the top of these hills,” you ask? Well this is part of your adventure! Many of these Valparaiso offbeat walking tours include a trip on an “ascensor”, a vertical railway used for very steep ascents. Some also describe them as elevators, and this is how you will ride to the top of the hills to experience the breathtaking panoramic views of the ocean, the city, and the port.
This is where the real adventure seekers come in. You can book a walking tour to explore the graffiti and street art in the area, which is part of what makes Valparaiso the cultural capital of Chile.
These tours sometimes cover the tourist areas, but they will also take you well outside those areas and into the working-class communities. There’s a tour where you go on a roller coaster of a bus ride through fourteen poverty-stricken cities, which are at the same time rich in street art, politics, history, and pride.
Some of these tours are not necessarily for the easily offended, as sometimes the guides point out how the graffiti artists create satirical art on subjects such as the Pope, McDonald’s, and Starbucks. One company will even tell you that you’re supposed to feel uncomfortable. But hey, it’s all part of the adventure!
Is This Even Legit? And Who are the Guides?
Yes, it’s all legit. There are, in fact, over thirty artists and two hundred murals in the area, much of which are politically fueled. There is an open-air museum dedicated to classic muralism, and there is even a tour called a “workshop” tour where you can actually participate in painting the graffiti with permission from an owner!
Some of the tour guides are actually some of the graffiti artists, and guess what they’re doing? They are active in their communities helping kids break away from crime and steering them toward art and graffiti! And at the same time, they are helping the tourism for their city.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, these tours are safe. It just wouldn’t be a good idea to wear any flashy jewelry.
There are many options when it comes to picking out a Valparaiso offbeat walking tour, and there is sure to be a perfect fit for you. Look into what each one offers and choose the one that sounds most interesting to you. Regardless of which one you decide on, you are sure to have a ton of fun and an experience of a lifetime!