BEAM ME DOWN, SCOTTY

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The Independent Travel
This week's random coordinates picked by the computer are:

Latitude: 33 15' S Longitude: 71 36' W

First reaction

Is that really the smell of orange trees in blossom?

Country and region

Chile, in the low coastal hills in the centre of the country, just 7km east of the Pacific Ocean and 100km west of the nation's capital, Santiago del Chile.

Nearest human settlements

The small village of Posada Lilen is just 4.5km to the north, while the sizeable coastal town of San Antonio is about 20km in the same direction.

Nature of terrain

Low hills, with sharp drops down to the Pacific Ocean. The ambiance is very Mediterranean, with dry scrub-land typically dotted with citrus and olive trees.

Altitude

About 200m.

Possible hazards

Petty theft and traffic accidents. And if you go bathing in the Pacific, dangerous offshore rip currents.

Useful languages

Spanish.

Take me to your leader

President Eduardo Frei of Chile.

Likely weather conditions

Dry with bright sunshine and temperatures between 15 and 20C, as long as you avoid the coastal fog.

Reasons for hanging around

Plenty. You can head for the delightful coastal resort of Vina del Mar, about 60km north of San Antonio, for beaches and turn-of-the-century architecture. Otherwise, be in glitzy, booming Santiago del Chile within a few hours, where you can eat superb seafood and visit fine palaces and museums.

Getting the hell out of there

No problem at all - walk about 4km eastwards and you will hit the main road heading north. Hitch a ride or flag down a bus for the short journey to San Antonio and then catch a bus to Santiago for about $3. Daily flights connect Santiago to Britain, usually flying via Buenos Aires.

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