Exactly 2 months after starting our journey in South America, we crossed the border into Bolivia, where we just had an unpredicted adventure at the salt flats of Uyuni! But we will post about that next week.
We have shared our experiences through blogposts and pictures, but we have seen and done much more in Chile (and Argentina).
Starting our journey
On january 6 we flew from Amsterdan via Buenos Aires to Santiago. Since our week in the capital felt really relaxed, we already started thinking of making a detour to Buenos Aires later on.
The island of Chiloë
After Santiago we travelled in a couple of days to the island of Chiloë, where we would meet up with Berend. He currently works there as an architect. We camped for a week on the yard of a high school; a camping during summer break. There we met the owner of the camping Francisco, a like-minded and inspiring guy. We even got to join him on a trip, exploring a tourist business opportunity in a beautiful and untamed part of Chiloë.
During our week on the island, we were invited by Berend’s hospedaje a couple of times for lunch/dinner. This friendly and caring older lady really tries to make everyone feel at home.
We got to see many pinguins near the island, Dagmar’s favorite birds. And as a bonus we even saw some sea lions on that trip!
At the end of the week, the three of us went along to take the overnight boat through the fjords of Patagonia.
Although sleeping on the boattrip that took 30 hours wasn’t very comfortable, the scenery was so astonishing that it was well worth the sacrifice of some hours of sleep.
Spontaneous trip to Argentina
Many travellers we met heading north, told us that El Chalten is a hikers paradise. So by the time we were near the Argentinian border, we were convinced to cross it, creating a nice itinerary change including Buenos Aires.
El Chalten was indeed a trekking nirvana, a small town providing travellers with astounding hiking routes right from town. We did a wonderful 3 day hike passing the most popular mountains and lagoons. It was noticeably more accesible than Cerro Castillo; we passed other hikers every couple of minutes and arrived early at our campsites.
After a week in Argentina’s Patagonia, we took a plane to the country’s capital. We stayed at a beautiful and laidback colonial house that reminded us a lot of our old student home at the Asterstraat. Including the fun roommates and the enormous rooftop terrace. Instead of campsite instant meals, we indulged in tasty coffee, pastries and of course steaks! Since Dagmar insisted, we also took two tango lessons.
Atacama, the driest desert on earth
A short flight took us back to Santiago, from where we started making our way North to the Atacama desert. We stopped at Valparaiso first, for a few days of gazing at street art. This artistic city is mostly built upon several hills and the streets are filled with beautiful graffiti. Then, cacti filled national park Pan de Azucar was our first stop in the desert.
By nightbus we made our way to Calama, a city most known for its copper mine. There we could take a free tour to the mine. It is the world’s largest open pit copper mine, state owned and quite modern. It’s responsible for most of chile’s wealth but also extremely polluting. It was an immense site we had never seen before. Huge 6m high trucks (pics) that need liters of diesel per minute hauling copper ores. However, the company told us that they will change it to a state of the art closed mine in the near future. Suposedly reducing 95% of emissions.
San Pedro de Atacama
Our final destination in Chile was the famous town of San Pedro de Atacama. Surrounded with beautiful and surprisingly diverse landscapes. This town is a favorite starting point for travellers to visit most highlights of the desert. We went on a strenuous bicycle ride uphill through moon valley, earning its name for the white salt residue everywhere. Later that week we booked a guided tour through the rainbow valley. Yes, that was as colorful as it sounds. We ended our stay with a horseback ride in movie-like desert surroundings. A ride that we both looked forward to and which was beyond expectation!
Two months have flown by
Needless to say, we had an amazing time in Chile (and Argentina). The people were really friendly and easy to connect with. The countries’ sights are beautiful and very diverse. And we NEVER regretted the decision to mainly go camping :).
Peru, Colombia but first of all Bolivia, will hopefully bring us just as great a time.