16.06.2008 12 °C
Since the last blog we have travelled through the Atacama desert. This is the driest desert in the world with 1mm of rain a year and runs between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean (What doesn´t run between those two in Chile?). Because of it´s location and the Humbolt current it is also very sterile, not much seems to grow here at all, so the 2 days we spent driving though it weren´t all that exciting. We spent 2 nights bush camping in the desert. The first night was at the Hand of the Desert, a man made sculpture in the middle the desert.
The second night was at the Pan de Azucar National Park where we camped on the beach. The night we spent on the beach was wonderful. We spit roasted chickens on the campfire and a brave few (including Chris and I) took a dip in the sea. If nothing else the sea gave us a much needed "wash". We all drank, ate and were merry. The night was surprisingly warm and we got a great night sleep.
From the Pan de Azucar National park we had a long drive to La Serena, so we left the beach camp at 7am which meant getting up at 5.45 to take down the tent (in the dark), pack up and get breakfast. We got to La Serena about 5pm. At this point the scenery in Chile was still unremarkable.
We camped again in La Serena, a few people upgraded to cabins, but Chris and I didn´t see much need. We are tough you know!!
From La Serena we thought we had another long drive, so it was another early start. There is a new motorway and the journey took us half the time planned, so we got into Valparaiso (Valpo in the photos because Chris is Lazy!!) at lunch time yesterday. We took the time to sleep, catch up on reading and generally relaxed.
We spent today walking around Valparaiso, one of that country's most important seaports and the cultural center of Chile. The city is built upon dozens of steep hillsides overlooking the Pacific Ocean, with ascensors to help you up the steeper hills. We took advantage of one of these.
There is a labyrinth of streets and cobblestone alleyways, there is a range of colonial buildings in a range of colours and some more local styled buildings. It is an amazing city which keeps the eyes and mind busy. There is no wonder that Valparaíso is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is often considered to be one of Latin America’s most intriguing urban areas.
Tomorrow we head for Santiago, the Capital of Chile. We will be here for a couple of days before continuing south towards the Lake District.
More photos can be found here - http://www.travellerspoint.com/photos/gallery/users/The%20Pratts/