Christmas and new year were pretty hectic- the usual eating and drinking too much. It's been a while since I've done any real exercise and I've really missed it. I used to go to the gym pretty much every day and go on fairly regular hikes. There's a gym in Santa Cruz which I joined for a few months but it has really strange opening hours- I don't have much of a schedule as I work for myself, but even I found it hard to work around the gym's times.
So I've been wondering what I could do to get healthy again. In England, you can walk anywhere in the countryside- farmers have to provide paths, gates and stiles for the public to get around. Unfortunately, no such system exists in Chile so if you want to roam the countryside, you need to know who owns it.
So I called a friend, who happens to be the managing director and a member of the family that owns Vina Neyen. Neyen is based in Apalta, where Chile's best red wines come from (Lapostolle is there, so is Montes). The winery makes just one, ultra-premium wine (retailing at about $50.000 pesos in Chile and around US$60-70 in the US), which is, to say the least, pretty drinkable.
They have around 140 hectares of vines planted at the far end of Apalta- it's an amazingly beautiful spot. On top of the vines, they also have around 900 hectares of hillside, covered in native forest with...hiking trails. If you're a tourist in the area, you can do wine tasting followed by either hiking or horse trekking into the hills. I can highly recommend the paid tour- you get to taste a fantastic wine and the hiking is really fun.
Fortunately, I don't have to pay to go hiking and I will be going at least twice a week in a bid to get fit for a whole day trek up Cerro Provincia in Santiago before Winter sets in. I did a half hour climb today (and a 15 minute run back down) and will be increasing that further over the next few weeks. I think the trail goes to the very top of the hill, which borders this beautiful vineyard for sale in the Colchagua Valley. I aim to get up there soon.
View of the vineyard at the start of the trail.
This little pond has been carved out of the rocks by thousands of years of Winter rains and a small spring from the hillside. Amy's about to jump in here.