A Travellerspoint blog

Valparaiso

overcast 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.

IMG_0218.jpg
IMG_0582.jpg
IMG_0586.jpg

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.

IMG_0224.jpg

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.

IMG_0240.jpg
IMG_0245.jpg

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.

IMG_0611.jpg
IMG_0606.jpg
IMG_0601.jpg

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/

Posted by Mrs Pratt 15:43 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

San Pedro de Atacama

We can breathe again

semi-overcast 6 °C

There are some more pictures up in the gallery - see the previous post for the link. Please bear with us while we get used to putting pictures into the blog entries!

The La Paz roadblocks to Potosi were showing no signs of lifting, so we unfortunately had to abandon the original plan to see the mines in Potosi and the lovely city of Sucre and on Friday morning embarked on the long 12 hour drive straight to Uyuni, and the salt flats, instead. There were some roadblocks on this route, however, which we ran into about 5 hours into the journey. Luckily, the outskirts of the towns here are not all that well defined and we managed to follow some locals on a route to circumnavigate the roadblock, much to the disgruntlement of the protesters. They didn't actually throw stuff, but one of them gave us the "slit throat" sign as we drove past - they weren't exactly the wave back types!

We ended up in Uyuni that evening, around 6pm, quite a bit chillier than it had been in La Paz! The hotel's water was heated entirely by the sun, which thanks to the altitude, latitude and lack of cloud made for a surprisingly hot shower that night. This was the night of Digga's 10 shot challenge.
IMG_0207.jpg
Bearing in mind this is no ordinary line up of single measures (one of the shots was a pint containing beer, tequila and other spirits to be drunk through the nipple of a breast-shaped mug) he made it look (relatively) easy, finishing in under 45 seconds, and earning himself (and Australia) a place on the top 5 board. The top spot, at under 40 seconds, was occupied comfortably by a Belgian woman!

The next day we headed out onto the salt flats (via the train graveyard). Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat in the world - 25 times larger than the Bonneville salt flats in the US. It's big, flat, white and salty, and that's it - it just goes on for miles and miles. You can walk and drive on it. They collect the salt to make... well, salt. We had some fun in the perspectiveless world, taking some amusing photos.
DSC_1192.jpg

We left Uyuni on Sunday to head even higher and closer to the Chilean border to stay in a hostel in a town around 4400m altitude. This is rather dizzyingly high, and as expected, some of us started to feel a little ill. It was also bitchingly cold that night, but we managed to stay warm in sleeping bags and under blankets. It was so cold in fact, that the next day Carmen started to overheat because some of her antifreeze had frozen in its pipes. Di and I will both fully admit that we weren't expecting anything quite this cold.

Monday was spent pootling around between 4000m and 5020m altitude and taking in some spectacular sights. We hit the Laguna Colorado, geysers, hot springs at lunch and the Laguna Verde.
IMG_0565.jpg
IMG_0573.jpg
IMG_0577.jpg

Then finally we crossed out of Bolivia, and descended from the Altiplano to the Chilean border at a much more sensible 2500m altitude, or thereabouts. We've spent the last two days in San Pedro de Atacama recovering from the altitude and went stargazing last night - guided by an energetic French couple who moved out here for the clear skies. He builds his own telescopes, you know!
IMG_0215.jpg

Tomorrow we leave San Pedro to descend further into Chile.

Posted by The Pratts 16:53 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Photo Gallery

sunny 14 °C

Hello, just a quick note to say we've uploaded some photos to our gallery. You can see them here:

http://www.travellerspoint.com/photos/gallery/users/The%20Pratts/

We'll start putting them in blogs at some point, if we can be bothered.

Posted by The Pratts 13:13 Archived in Bolivia Tagged photography Comments (0)

Stuck in La Paz

semi-overcast 10 °C

This morning we were supposed to leaving la Paz at 7am for a full days driving to Potosi. However, we are still here and do not know when we are leaving! There are county wide blockades. Carriers want the Ministry of Finance to agree to change its tax regime to be exempted from tax on profits. Also calling for the impeachment of the president of the Bolivian Highway Administrator (ABC). The Ministry of Finance does not seem to want to know.

Road blocks and protests are not at all uncommon here in Bolivia and our Dragoman leader has experience something like this before.

So, we are here in La paz for a little while longer.

We are using the day to catch up on laundry, blogs, Coca tea drinking and cake eating.

Posted by Mrs Pratt 09:26 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Joining Dragoman

La Paz

semi-overcast 10 °C

A few days have passed since we lasted blogged. We have been very busy, hope you did not miss us too much!

On Monday we left our 5 star hotel and we joined the Dragoman group in a Hostel/Hotel. Alot of the other people on the truck have been on since Lima, some people before that. There are 5 of us joining in La Paz. There will be a total of 18 of us on the truck plus the two leaders. The Truck (Carmen) is aparently (we have not seen her yet) an 18 tonne, orange purpose built vehicle. She will be our transport and home for the next 6 weeks. I am sure you will hear more about Carmen in these blogs.

We spent Monday getting to know the other 3 travellers joining the group. We walked around the Witches Market where there was a plethora of weird and wonderful things. The most famous fare at the market is the Llama fetus. The main purpose for the dried llama fetusis to protect your home. Most homes in Bolivia have these dried llama fetus interred in the foundations of the building.

We also spent alot of time looking for blankets, hats and gloves. In the induction meeting with Dragoman we were warned it was going to get cold, very cold and snowy over the next couple of weeks. We were also warned that last years trip was stuck in Argentina for 6 days waiting to go over a very snowy pass. We are realising (see our next blog) that with overlanding you never know what is going to happen and you have to be extremly flexiable.

Yesterday we got up early and took a tour to Tiwanaku (also in spanish Tiahuanaco and Tiahuanacu). The journey took about 1.5 hours and we got to see some of the rural life in Boliva as well as some stunning views of the mountain ranges. Tiwanaku is a UNESCO world heritage site. The site of Tiwanaku was founded in approximately 1200 BCE as a small agriculturally-based village. It is recognized by scholars as one of the most important precursors to the Inca Empire. The ruins of the ancient city state are near the south-eastern shore of Lake Titicaca, about 72 km (44 miles) west of La Paz. Even though much of the architecture is in a poor state of preservation it was amazing to see the monoliths and the layout of the site. There is alot of working going to to excavate the site, so hopefully in years to come there will be a better understanding of the civiliation. We has an amazing guide, who spoke great english and was obviously very well educated on the site.

Last night I ate a wonderful Llama steak, which tasted like a cross between venison and pork. I will definatly be eating that again. Chris has a grilled steak, which is my usual staple. I also has a Submarino - a glass of warm milk served with a block of chocolate. You drop the chocolate into the milk and drink - yum, yum. All this was again in the name of cultural experience.

Posted by Mrs Pratt 08:44 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

(Entries 16 - 20 of 22) « Page 1 2 3 [4] 5 »