Thanks largely to the efforts of a single man—controversial arms merchant Carlos Cardoen—the town of Santa Cruz has become the locus of a burgeoning tourist industry that takes advantage of the country’s best organized Ruta del Vino, incorporating vineyards from San Fernando almost to the Pacific and a wine train that’s gradually advancing westward.
Studded with araucarias, palms, peppers, ginkgos, and conifers, surrounding a small central fountain, the Plaza de Armas is the focus of Santa Cruz’s street life. At the southwestern corner, there’s an interesting clock tower that shows its inner workings.
Bus is the best option. From the capital’s Terminal de Buses Santiago (Alameda 3750), the main carriers are Andimar and Nilahue; it’s about three hours to Santa Cruz’s own Terminal Municipal (Casanova s/n), about four blocks southwest of the Plaza de Armas. A slower alternative would be Metrotrén to San Fernando and a local bus for the last 37 kilometers to Santa Cruz.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition