Forty-one kilometres west of San Fernando, the paved road running through the Colchagua Valley to the coast takes you past a trail of wineries. The small, well-preserved town of SANTA CRUZ, 40km from San Fernando, sits in the heart of this renowned wine-making district and boasts the Museo de Colchagua, one of the best museums in the country.

The private Museo de Colchagua is housed in a splendid, plum-coloured colonial hacienda. Owned by international arms dealer Carlos Cardoen (the so-called “king of cluster bombs”), it has a well-designed, extensive and eclectic collection, including fossils, a huge amount of amber, pre-Columbian pottery and jewellery, relics from the War of the Pacific and memorabilia from the Chilean Independence movement. Among the most evocative exhibits are the beautiful old saddles, carved wooden stirrups and silver spurs in the huaso display, as well as the multimedia exhibit on the 2010 rescue of “Los 33”, complete with a reconstruction of their “refugio”.

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