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Chile

Curious what backpackers do in Chile? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • Made it to the bustling, hilly coastal city of Valparaiso. This place has a slightly feral, gritty vibe to it but it also has a lot of charm. Brightly painted buildings stacked up the hills with narrow walkways covered in excellent street art balance out the edge of the city. Valparaiso is awesome so far!

  • I took a 12 hour bus to Punto Arenas, and stared out the window at the country I had originally planned to bike. It was totally flat, barren, and windy. There was the occasional sheep. Canceling that bike tour is literally one of the smartest travel decisions I've made. Also, it is not easy to get around in Patagonia. There's one road. Sometimes you have to take a ferry. Sometimes the border guards search all the Israelis on your bus and you're stuck at the border for an hour.

    In Punta Arenas, I was expecting a time little village but instead landed in a huge city. I was disoriented, because I'd crossed into Chile and suddenly my argentine pesos were no good and my argentine sim card stopped working. I tried to find my hostel with a physical map and it was hard. The Israelis got off the bus in Punta Arenas as well and piled into an Israeli hostel right next to the bus station. Must be nice.

    The next day I got back on the bus to go to Puerto Natales and try and salvage my trip to Torres Del Paine. Turns out there is literally only one reason anyone goes to Puerto Natales, and it's to hike Torres del Paine. They don't even have hotels, only hostels. Everything's in English and they have microbreweries, little coffee places catering to backpackers, and the largest camping store I've ever seen.

    The city is in crisis. No one has reservations and torres del Paine is full up. The reservation system is so complex many people are just going to the park without reservations. Once you're on the trail they have to give you a place to stay, you can't leave the park once you're in the mountains.

    Also, a bridge on the w trek is broken, and there's a huge portion of the trail that's unavailable. I spent two hours in the booking office and it was a scene. People were crying because they couldn't get campsites. Other people had to end their hike early because of the bridge and were arguing for refunds. The Israelis were throwing a huge fit. I got very lucky. I decided to only do one day on the w trek, then do the less popular o trek, and skip the section with the broken bridge. It all came together and I got campsites!!

    So now I'm going to go live on a mountain for 5 days. 😨

    I almost forgot, yesterday I went horseback rising. I arrived at the hostel and saw some guys from the bus
    They were like hey! We're going horseback riding but we're leaving now, do you want to come? I went. It was gorgeous and probably one of the best days of my life. I've never ridden a horse any faster than a walk, but we reached this big open field and the guide was like, ok we're going to gallop across this field! Hold on!

    It was exhilarating, and fulfilled that little 8 year old in my heart that wanted to gallop across a field on a horse with my hair streaming behind me.
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  • Angekommen in patagonien :-) nach einem kurzen kälteschock und entsprechender shoppingtour wurde der erste berg erobert

  • So it has been a while since I have both written and posted a blog. This is because we have had a hectic few days and I just haven't had the time or energy to write them, nor the WiFi to post them. I am however now laid in a hammock at a wonderfully warm and oxygenated 2400m, so I will be writing and posting them shortly.

    Today was the final day of our three day tour from Uyuni to San Pedro. Although I am writing this blog before writing those for days one and two, I am going to write as though I have already told you about them to save repeating myself.

    So today we all awoke at 4am to the sound of Robs alarm. It was bloody freezing!! More cold than I have ever been and we had no heating to wake up to either. It was such an effort to get up, despite being fully clothed already, but we had no choice if we wanted breakfast. Us girls also had to put our bikinis on in prep for the thermal springs later 😑

    After realising once again that being cold, shivering and trying to rush about getting dressed makes you pant like you've ran a half mile when at 4300m we were finally ready for breakfast.
    We weren't too thrilled this morning with the choice. It was cold thick pancakes and some sort of yoghurt drink. Not the most wonderful breakfast and after last night's weird meal I think everyone had hoped for a little more. But never mind....we didn't have time to moan as we had to be in the Jeep by 5am. Rob and Rich managed to brave the cold a little more for some photos of the starry sky (good photos but it was so cold Rob did not think it was worth it). Heading outside to the car was like stepping into a freezer. It was somewhere between minus 5 and minus 15 and inside the car it wasn't much better.
    We set off to the geothermal geysers and our breath actually formed ice inside the windows :( brrrrr! It also made it impossible to see out of them and my plan to sit in the front to avoid travel sickness was not the best as the passenger side of the window was the same. Fortunately the driver had just enough room to see out of to get us through the sandy roads (or tire marked areas of desert lol). We overtook a couple of other jeeps and it was a pretty fun ride. We also saw the result of a small crash between a couple of jeeps, likely a result of the blinding sun ahead that made it near enough impossible to see, even when the ice had melted.

    The skies in the way in were absolutely glorious. We set off in the dark and the stars were above us along with the milkyway. You could just make out where the sun would come up because of the paler, silvery blue layer of colour to the left that the mountains stood silhouetted against. As we carried on this silvery blue layer of colour stretched higher into the sky and the mountains were I stead offset by a greeny yellow, and peachy orange layer that looked stunning. The stars eventually faded and we were left with the peachy orange sky that crept into a pinky haze higher in the sky.

    We reached the geysers before any other group and as soon as you opened the car door you could hear the jet of sulphur billowing out of the ground. It was like listening to the jet engine of a plane. What also hit us was the cold once again. SOOOOOOO COOOOOLD!!!! We all looked pretty stupid with our hats and scarves covering our entire faces but it was the only thing to do. It is also the reason the geysers look so impressive though, which makes it worth it. They were spectacular. We walked through the park and the colour of the sky looked amazing against the planes of steaming gas and the golden sand, tinged with reds, greens and whites from the minerals. The gas was escaping from both tiny holes barely even visible in the ground, to huge craters where there was so much steam you couldn't see inside. There were also boiling clay pits that made an awesome gloopy bubbling sound as you walked past and spit boiling clay up into the air. Once again, another spectacular and contrasting site that takes your breath away. Cannot believe how many different types of landscape we have been witness to in South America and particularly so close together here in Bolivia. My advice....build up the altitude slowly (we have had no headaches or sickness and no coca tea) and then enjoy the beauty of this absolutely stunning continent! My words and pictures just will not do it justice.

    After enjoying the geysers and walking through the lovely eggy smelling sulphur gases we headed back to the Jeep. We left as more people started to arrive and were glad to have got there when we did. Not only for the quiet but also for the light...it was much brighter now and the colours a little less spectacular.
    We headed off on another fun journey in the Jeep, bouncing along the sand and kicking up dust. Once again we were all freezing and we sat listening to a mix of our drivers Bolivian music and 80's disco lol. A bit much for such an early morning.
    We arrived at the hotsprings after about half an hour, ice still on the windows. We had passed a huge lake on the way, which the springs sat on the edge of, and saw a huddle of flamingos that had seemingly become frozen in the ice that had formed on the surface. Our guide Pablo told us this happens sometimes and they have to wait for it to melt. They must have been looking longingly at the smaller waders and gulls that were sitting in the steaming edges of the lake that just caught the golden glow of the Sun. It was a surreal sight, steaming clouds coming off the lakes surface, the rays of orange and golden sun just about making their through as a glowing haze. The lake itself was interspersed with patches of green land, sandy rock and white ice and birds enjoying the water of flying through the steam.
    We had paid for the entry to the springs (60p) in a gross makeshift office with toilets that just smelt like wee. I didn't use them but Rob informed me they were the hole in the ground kind. We then headed to get undressed. Nothing had seemed more unnatural or crazy given the temperature, but when else do you get to do this somewhere so beautiful. The very shirt walk/run to the water was breathtakingly cold, but my goodness was it worth it. The water was at a glorious 38 degress and after almost slipping on the algae rocks on my way in I was in heaven. We sat and just enjoyed both the warmth and the opportunity to be soaking in something as showering had not been option before. It was beautiful, and only one other group were here before us which made it even better. We looked out from the steaming pool across the lake and watched the birds and the steam rolling over the surface. It was gorgeous. So relaxing and so needed.
    We were in the water for about an hour, it got a bit busier half way through and again we were glad to have been up so early. Getting changed was a little less unpleasant than getting undressed, I think the warmth of the water gave us some time before the cold hit. It did once again leave you panting a little for the breath though!

    By 8:00 we were off again and on the way to the Laguna Verde. The journey took us up high and through Mars like scenery with mountains that had stunning colours seemingly running down them. Whites, reds and greens. It is called the Salvador Dhali Desert for this reason. The green lagoon sits up high (as everything is up here) alongside volcanoes. It is arsenic that turns the water green and it is most spectacular when windy, which unfortunately it was not for us. The view however was still incredible and the still water allowed for a few reflections of the towering volcanoes to be seen. Rob was a little annoyed by the salty edges (they ruined the reflection for photos 🙄) but wow...once again just amazing. We stood and took in the last great view we would see in Bolivia (well...the boys the stones down to the lake to try and hit a black rock) and they we set off for the border. The sun was also higher now and the air warmer which meant I could see out of the windows. We passed through yet more red sandy desert and mountains, with large rocks dotted about as evidemce of past volcanic eruptions and eventually arrived at the border.

    Here we had our passport stamped (and paid a shady 15 Bolivianos for the honour) before saying goodbye to Marion, our guide and driver. We waited to board the bus to San Pedro (a little apprehensively as they didn't seem keen to let us on at first) and then we were on our way.

    We crossed the border and withing minutes the first signs of Chilean wealth were visible....tarmac roads in the desert. We joined one such road and headed downhill into the Atacama Desert (apparently once Bolivian soil). It was a steep and fast descent and Rob was enjoying the ever more gravy like air as we descended further and further. We went from 4300+ at times this morning to just 2300 in about half an hour. It also went from freezing to gloriously warm.

    We went through customs (I was a little worried about my teabags) and then got directed to our hostel. The directions weren't perfect but Google maps out us right and we got to our hostel, which is where we are now.
    Since my hammock time this morning we have been down the main street for lunch (massive burgers but not too great), saw a swirling sand tornado in the distance in front of one of the massive volcanoes that circles the town and had much needed showers, or at least the boys have. I unfortunately had belly ache and have since been overcome with tiredness. Off to chill in the hammock again now though :)

    Not much else planned for today, pasta and bed most likely!
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  • Um 4.30 ging es los um die Geysire in Tatio aktiv zu erleben. Diese liegen auf 4280 m und so früh morgens ist es sehr kalt. Aber es hat sich gelohnt und ein Fussbad im heiss-warmen Wasser hat mich wieder aufgewärmt. Auf der Weiterfahrt gab es jede Menge Tiere zu sehen: Vicuñas, Lamas, Vizcachas - eine Mischung zwischen Hase und Chinchilla, Enten und tatsächlich Flamingos. Ich war echt erstaunt, über so viel Leben in dieser kargen Natur.

    It was an early start at 4.30 to see the geysersin El Tatio active. They are located on 4280 m and it was freezing that early in the morning. It was worth it and I could war up bathing my feet in the hot water. On the way back we saw a lot of animals: Vicuñas, Lamas, Vizcachas - a mix between rabbit and chinchilla, ducks and yes Flamingos. I was really surprised that there is so much life in this scarce nature.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

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