Being back home and back at work has both given us a new perspective on our travels but also severely limited the amount of time that we have to reflect on our trip. The next major post, Antarctica, is a big one and it’ll be a little while before we’ve gone through all the photos and videos to pull out something to illustrate this incredible continent. In the meantime, in our last post we left Chile for the final time so here are my thoughts on Chile.
Time for a little recap and summary of our thoughts on Chile. We really enjoyed our time in Chile, and it is somewhere that I would love to return to and explore further one day. Even though we spent around a month there altogether, I feel there is a lot more we can come back to. Chile is the long thin west coast of South America, it has a huge range of landscapes and some really interesting cities too. Continue reading “Thoughts on Chile”
After spending five days hiking the W-trek we had one final day with our Wicked van Amanda. It was time to drop her off in Punta Arenas, a small town only a few hours drive south. It was a pleasant, uneventful drive, listening to music and driving down a road signposted as the route of the end of the world! The landscape was huge and open and really did feel like the very edge of the world.
The W trek is a five day hike through the Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia. It is the most popular of three hikes known as the W, Q and O named after the shape that they form on a map. Compared to hikes in some other areas of South America these are popular because they are easy enough to be tackled by people with relatively little long-distance hiking experience and they can be completed relatively cheaply as they do not require a guide. However probably the biggest reason for their popularity is the variety of scenery that can be experienced along the way.
We opted for the W trek in 5 days (the most common choice) and chose the West to East direction of the walk.
This post is the final part of our road trip, picking back up with us in the Patagonian wilderness of Argentina. This was probably the most difficult but also exciting section of our road trip with petrol strikes, broken cash machines and a lucky escape from a small electrical fire in the van, in the wilderness, at speed. Sound scary? it was…….
Day 15: Patagonian Steppe and Ruta 40 to El Chalten (365km)
I woke up at about 6am freezing cold in the van, although we’d parked somewhere with some wind shelter it had still become pretty cold overnight. At around 8am we gave up trying to sleep and got up to a sunny but freezing cold morning.
This post returns to our road trip through Argentina and Chile, in which we pick up a friend and start to experience the real wilderness of Patagonia with all its beauty and occasional difficulties.
Day 9: Bariloche (Argentina) and around (92km)
We awoke in our lakeside campsite and had breakfast before heading into Bariloche to collect Stella, our new companion for the rest of our time in the van. We had met Stella in Salta at New Year and had stayed in contact. Realising we were all heading the same way with the same time scale after Bariloche, we decided to travel together in Amanda.
We needed to more than just a vague plan for the rest of our road trip so the three of us used the WiFi in Stella’s hostal to plan the rest of our road trip. While it it’s never nice to lose so much time to planning, we finished a few hours later with a rough plan. We also used the opportunity to do some laundry and stock up on supplies. While we waited for the laundry we sat outside in the sun enjoying a pint of beer from a local microbrewery and then drove to a nearby campsite.
We’ve been back in the UK for a fortnight now and while our first priority was to see family, a few of our closest friends, and to find somewhere to live in Bristol, we have finally found some time to get the next post ready to publish.
Here is the first of a few posts about our third road trip, where we hired a camper van for 27 days and drove all the way from Santiago in Chile, through Chile and Argentina down to Punta Arenas. We crossed the Chile-Argentina border four times and drove 4,678km in total.
Day 1: Santiago (135km)
The plan was to pick the van up nice and early, collect supplies and make a quick dash to our next destination. Well we all know what they say about the best laid plans, and sure enough our first day with the van ended up being something of an adventure (which of course is the positive spin for “a bit of a nightmare”).
Alex here again to tell you about Santiago and Valparaiso. We were back in Chile after a bus ride that took the best part of 10 hours (4 more than advertised!). We met two really nice English girls on the bus and swapped travel tips to pass the time whilst waiting at the border, this part of the journey took 3 hours waiting in a queue of buses! We’d heard mixed things about Santiago, most backpackers we’d met skip it, or just pass through in transit, but I’d had recommendations from my parents so wanted to spend more time there. We weren’t disappointed and really enjoyed the city.
After boarding our bus at the Bolivian border we drove straight into Chile and towards San Pedro. Since we were off-road in Uyuni we drove through the dirt and eventually joined a paved road that led into San Pedro de Atacama. This was the first proper road we’d seen in nearly a week and the proliferation of roadsigns, painted lines and general good state of the road told us that we were definitely out of Bolivia!
About an hour later we reached the edge of San Pedro. San Pedro de Atacama (to use it’s full name) is a small laid back tourist town in the Atacama desert in northern Chile. Rather than taking us into town, the van took us to a police building on the outskirts that serves as border control. There we were stamped into the country and had all our bags x-rayed. Once we were done with immigration the van took us another few hundred metres into town and we hopped off, standing sweltering in the desert heat still wrapped up in jumpers from the Uyuni altitude.
We had no hostel bookings for San Pedro, we had tried to book a camper van before we left Potosí but had struggled with the website and slow internet. I’d emailed the company but, having had no internet access for nearly a week, I had no idea whether they’d received my emails and no idea whether we’d have a van waiting for us or not!