Chile

Chile

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  • Day212

    Après une journée de stop et 2 voitures (1 famille d'américains et Hernan, qui décide de nous faire passer la frontière et de nous déposer à Puerto Natales au Chili alors qu'il vit à Rio Turbio, à plus d'1h de là !!!) nous voilà au Chili ! Nous passons 1 journée à organiser nos prochaines journées de trek dans le Torres. On comprend rapidement qu'ici tout est hors de prix et depuis l'année dernière impossible de camper dans le parc sans réservation... tout est complet... et anecdote : le camping le plus cher du monde est ici, 200 € pour planter ta tente... ça fait plaisir !

    Du coup Greg trouve la solution la plus rentable : louer une voiture (Renault style Clio) qui nous fera une 3 en 1 : transport, resto et hôtel ! En plus cela nous permet de rentrer dans le parc avant l'ouverture officielle et donc de ne pas payer l'entrée du parc (qui est au passage à 21000 pesos par personne soit 30€). Mode Manouche ON !

    Le premier jour, nous partons donc à 5h de Puerto Natales pour passer les portes avant 7h (comme conseillé par des français à l'hostel). Ça marche ! À peine passé l'entrée nous prenons 2 personnes en stop...pas de bol, on se rend compte une fois dans la voiture qu'ils sont israéliens. Greg ne dit plus un mot jusqu'à ce qu'on les dépose. On file droit vers le parking de la rando des fameuses Torres car aujourd'hui il fait soleil et ici tout change très vite ! Le parc est magnifique : beaucoup de lacs, de collines et un massif montagneux principal. On y croise également beaucoup de Guanacos (cousins des vigognes), de gros lièvres qui traversent sans prévenir et de petits ou gros oiseaux.

    La rando des Torres est un aller retour : on passe des petits ponts de bois, des rivières, des cascades, des sous-bois, c'est très sympa. Malheureusement sur la montée finale, le ciel se couvre un peu, quelques gouttes font leur apparition et nous avons d'énormes rafales de vent (une rafale fait même tomber un couple !). On découvre enfin les 3 tours et leur lagune mais vu le temps on ne s'attarde guère.

    Sur le retour, nous faisons à nouveau face à des rafales de vent ultra violentes et une emporte carrément les lunettes de soleil de Greg qui finissent dans le ravin... triste fin... Puis, improbable, Greg rencontre un collègue de boulot ! Amadeus est vraiment présent partout ! De retour à la voiture, le nouvel objectif est de sortir du parc et de trouver un coin où planter notre tente, enfin notre voiture ! C'est chose faite en 5 min : nous nous calons au bout d'un terrain de camping face à la rivière. On est bien ! Tout se passe bien car personne ne vient nous dire quoi que ce soit. Comme il pleut, nous sommes contraint d'utiliser notre réchaud à l'intérieur même de la voiture ! Puis nous transformons Bobo (la voiture) en mode couchette pour une nuit plutôt originale !
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  • Day212

    On a pas trop mal dormi dans Bobo malgré le vent et la pluie ! Nous entrons dans le parc à 7h (on évite encore de payer l'entrée) et on file vers le petit port du lac Pehoe. Aujourd'hui la météo est incertaine mais nous décidons tout de même de faire la rando du Lago Grey et de son glacier éponyme qui d'ailleurs se prolonge en Argentine pour s'appeler... le Perito Moreno... et oui, c'est le même!!

    En attendant le bateau, on petit déjeune dans la voiture. À 9h, nous embarquons pour 35min de trajet jusqu'au point de départ de la rando. On aurait bien voulu faire une virée en bateau jusqu'au glacier pour changer...malheureusement à 500€ le tour, on a décidé de marcher et de ne payer que le petit bateau, 40€/personne aller retour tout de même. Le soleil est toujours là même si les nuages menacent donc nous traçons en 2h45 (pour 3h30 annoncées) jusqu'au glacier. Au point de vue, nous avons droit à un beau soleil mais beaucoup de vent : Greg réussit même à tenir tout seul penché face au vent.

    Le temps de manger notre pique nique au refuge, nous repartons, mais là ce n'est pas la même... La pluie est arrivée et ne nous quitte plus jusqu'à la fin. En plus on a eu la bonne idée de ne pas mettre nos pantalons ni nos chaussures étanches... champions! C'est donc trempés que nous arrivons au port pour le bateau retour. Le trajet à pied bateau-voiture est horrible car nous sommes frigorifiés et le vent glacial vient nous achever. En plus, n'ayant pas d'abri pour se changer, on utilise les toilettes publiques du port et on fait sécher tout ça au chauffage de la voiture.
    Et ce soir même routine : il pleut donc cuisine dans la voiture et dodo bien mérité.
    Cette rando sera normalement la dernière de notre voyage et heureusement car Greg a atteint son quota.
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  • Day54

    We left the Wild Hostal early on the Sunday, to catch the bus back to Punta Arenas for our flight to Santiago. It was a beautiful afternoon as we approached the city - a silver pool of molten silver in the river delta, and blue waves of mountains under the wing as we came into land. The 'boutique' hotel was 1930s deco, with a black and white tiled hall leading to a wide, winding, concrete staircase. We were at the very top, in a large room with very very creaky floorboards, extra wide bed and antique furniture. We could hear that next door had the same flooring. Breakfast was at chintzy tables overlooking the courtyard garden, and I had my daily fight with the avant garde fruit juicing machine to the sound of 30s and 40s dance band music. Following check-in, we walked across the bridge into an area recommended by the hotel and had dinner, high up on an outside terrace, looking out over a lively mall of restaurants bars and shops. It was Independence Day weekend, so whole families were out celebrating.

    After breakfast on the Monday, we walked through the Parque Forestal which connected our hotel in Providencia with downtown Santiago. The sun was shining, and even though it was early, it was pleasantly warm. Created on reclaimed land from the Mapocho River, the park consists of a central walkway, edged with lines of plane trees and small grassy areas dotted with sculptures, including the imposing German Fountain. With a large boat at its heart and surrounded by numerous Roman sea gods, the fountain symbolises the different aspects of Chile's Independence and was commissioned by the Germans in the run up to the centenary of the event. This led us, up a steep slope, to yet another park, on a hill, with a palace at its peak. After signing the visitor's book at the entrance gate, we strolled around the flowerbeds and took photos of the views, before heading towards the Plaza de Armas where we were hoping there may be a parade. We were not disappointed. People had already started to gather at the gated railings which had been closed under the colonnades, to prevent access along the near side of the square, and soldiers with white plumed helmets had begun to line up on the far side. We stood with a very diverse and extremely friendly group of people. In fact some may say that we were accosted. There was the man who (once he realised we were English) gave us a running commentary of the event, a large amount of which we didn't understand. This was after he had shown us his identity card to prove his own English heritage - his surname was Taylor. Another man told us in which direction the soldiers would march. He informed us that the open-topped limo (presently parked outside the cathedral and flanked by security) had been used to transport the Queen around Santiago when she went on her tour of South America in 1967. He must have been a mere child in the 60s, so we were aware of how significant this event must have been for the Chileans. However, on this occasion the car was waiting to transport the president, who was attending a service in the cathedral. Another man who had obviously prepared for the occasion with a few drinks, told us where we could find food - most shops were closed for the day. When we got stuck on one part of the conversation, he asked his partner to help because, he said, he spoke good English. He promptly replied (in English), "Oh I don't feel like speaking English today". Front view 'seats' at the railings were taken by the lady in a wheelchair wearing full arctic weather gear (remember it was warm), and her friend, who was slumped asleep at her feet. The open car, the sniper on the roof of the tower block, the high ranking military with gold lanyards and epaulettes, dripping with medals that they couldn't possibly have lived long enough to earn - I couldn't help thinking of President Kennedy and the grassy knoll, or The Day of the Jackal. I was very wary of using the telephoto on my camera in case the man on the roof mistook it for a gun, but I summoned the courage and I shot him.

    In the afternoon, we crossed the bridge to explore downtown Providencia, a grungy area over the bridge from our hotel, with dramatic, slightly militant street art and numerous cafes and restaurants. Santiago's funicular is in this area, and the foot of the hill is full of stalls crammed with essential items for the tourists to buy. The merchandise was very similar to the stuff on sale at Goose Fair - sugary drinks and greasy snacks and brightly coloured, fluffy, shiny things. You know it's a fiesta day in South America when there's a man with a llama (decked out in pom-poms and embroidered saddle cloths) walking through the market - selling photos. There were massive queues for the lift, so we walked up part way to get misty views of the bottoms of the mountains that surround Santiago. We returned for dinner to this area - a barbecue restaurant where we sat outside (in our coats) to eat charred chunks of meat on sticks, called anticucchos. Rather chewy, but very authentic.

    On Tuesday, we returned to the Plaza de Armas, which was now open for viewing - a lovely square with large, protected trees, a cathedral and a grand, iced, wedgewood-blue building, and three felt hobby horses (without the rockers), mummy, daddy and baby sized, decorating the central space?! Chris had his hair cut by a hairdresser who seemed to specialise in wigs, which were hanging from every available space in the tiny salon. Fortunately Chris decided to opt for the razaradora, rather than the rug. We had lunch in a fish hall - rather cold, but good fish in sauce, with fried potatoes. In the afternoon, we caught the metro out to O'Higgins Park for the main Independence Day military parade, with floats and flags and feathers in abundance, and the president's head, just visible above the crowd, in that car again. We had had to work for this spectacle - at least an hour queueing, resisting the obligatory food and drink from the impromptu street vendors, and a dodgy scrum at the end when late arrivals tried to push in. We were entertained though, by a man carrying a can of beer, with rouged cheeks, false eyelashes, and wearing a plaited wig and a flowery dress, probably shouting 'Up the army!', but we weren't sure.

    Wednesday morning, before our bus trip to Valparaiso, we got up early to avoid the competition for the funicular, and were first on the car to the top to see the statue of Mary, the outdoor church, the 3 crosses, and the magnificent views over the city. Quick trip on the metro again with our luggage, and onwards, by bus, yet again.
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  • Day53

    We were back in Arica around 3 pm. After having our lunch, we went to the city to check out the car rental options.
    We checked with Europcar, they had very good prices but no vehicles available for another 3-4 days.
    The wickedcampers turned out be just a pickup and drop point. They informed us to check their website. The prices there were too high. By now, it was late in the evening so we couldn't check anywhere else and the tourism office too was closed by now. We just decided to hang around in the city center and have some cakes before returning back to the hostel.Read more

  • Day53

    A bit further in the valley, we stopped at the Colcas. These are underground holes that are were used to store grains and food items that the people from the valley used to get here to trade with the people from the highlands. They used holes in the ground lined with stones and them coated with clay. This used to work as a natural refrigerator and preserve the food for longer. One can still find preserved food items inside the Colcas.Read more

  • Day54

    We sat at the beach till the sunset. After that, we walked 2 kms back to our hostel.
    At the hostel we got wifi again and did some research on what options we could have. We found 2 more car rentals on Google maps. We decided to check them out the next morning. If the prices were fine, we would rent the vehicles immediately.
    We also found out that Iquique, about 350 kms from here had lot more car rentals so if we didn't find a good option at the 2 rental companies in Arica, we would take the bus to Iquique and try our luck there with the car rentals.Read more

  • Day54

    We walked the 2 kms from the town center to the Chinchorro beach. On the way, we passed the protected area for the turtles. We didn't see any turtles but saw 2 dead sea lion carcasses.
    At the beach, I sat out enjoying the waves and the soothing rhythm of the waves while Hristo decided to go for a swim.

  • Day43

    Ushuaia to Puerto Natales

    The 5.15am coach to Punta Arenas was on time but we were early, so we waited in the cold at the shut-up bus station in Ushuaia for about 25 minutes - we had spotted a taxi at the top of the hill near to our apartment, although we had had to knock on the car window to wake the lady driver. "Disculpe" did the trick though. At least we hadn't had to walk. We had been on our way for just ten minutes when the coach came to a standstill - it had got stuck on the hill in the snow. We weren't even out of the Ushuaia boundary at this point. An hour of tapping and shunting and boiling of hot water for tea by the 'Chuckle Brothers' as we named the driver and his mate, and a further half hour for them to summon a replacement bus, and we were finally on the move again, through a very snowy and very hilly landscape - a bit dark for photos, but I captured some interesting lighting effects with the sunrise which caused the snow on the mountains to turn a delicate shade of pink. We also passed by a large lake - steel grey next to a golden sky and snow streaked hills.

    A particular ambition of mine is to take a good picture of a road-side shrine (sad I know). There are many different types - wooden shed like affairs, white stone chapel-shaped ones, even model village style groups of shrines. They can be decorated with flowers or have offerings of food and water ranged around them. We had also noticed that a lot of them were decorated with red flags, so we looked for an explanation on google and found the following tale:
    In the 1840s a Robin Hood type figure called Gauchito Gil was going around Argentina robbing the rich and giving to the poor. Just before his beheading for his 'crimes', he told the executioner that if he went ahead and killed him, his son would be stricken by a deadly illness, and that the only way to save him would be to give Gauchito a proper burial. Legend is that this came true, and ever since, the Argentinian people (and the Chileans) have built shrines to his memory and hung them with red flags, either to represent his blood, or his political leanings.

    Travel continued again, through a pretty barren landscape, but this time with views of the sea, as we hugged the East coast as far as Rio Grande where we were to change for Punta Arenas. Our planned, leisurely, 3-hour breakfast had now become a 'snatch and grab' pastry and tea from the station cafe, but just a few more hours and we were at the border with Chile at San Sebastián. Prior to arriving, we had been given forms to fill in, in preparation for crossing into Chile. I had (I think quite reasonably) thought that leaving Argentina and entering Chile were one and the same thing, but apparently this is not the case. You leave the bus, to enter a building, to give in your passport, just to leave Argentina. There is then a journey across a 'no man's land' to the border with Chile where the bus assistant (having obsessively shuffled and sorted the forms) goes into Border Control. You await his return before again leaving the bus. You enter the building to have your passport checked off against the list created by the forms and are given a visa, before everything is unloaded off the coach, including your checked luggage which you then put through a scanner for customs. Add in a biting, arctic, gale force wind tunnel in the unloading bay between passport control and customs, and you get a vision of pain, and that is before the 2 hour wait for the woman escorted to Customs for bringing in too much food - fresh fruit and veg had to be offloaded (or eaten) before entering the new country, or (as we were advised on a later border-hopping trip) carried in coat pockets because border control don't check! This did lead to a 'hairy' moment on said trip when a dog came down the line jumping up and sniffing. Luckily, the 'sniffer dog' turned out to be a 'border pet'.

    We could tell we had finally entered Chile because the road had turned to a dirt track. It did eventually improve to a very narrow concrete road (you could feel the draught and the threat of oncoming traffic) until a sign saying 'FIN DE CAMINO' or 'End of the Road'. We had reached a *body of water*, and the road had became a slipway for a vehicle ferry. We had just missed one ferry, so briefly got out of the coach for a bit of 'fresh air' or 'a battle to remain standing against the gale'. The next ferry couldn't fit us on (too many trucks). So, third time lucky. We were instructed to walk onto the ferry, where we sat in closed-in side areas, whilst LARGE waves crashed (making beautiful salt patterns) against the windows!

    *The area of water that separates Tierrra del Fuego from mainland Chile*

    Just a 'few more hours' and we eventually arrived in Punta Arenas around 8pm. A quick dash in the dark and rain with our bags, via a couple of hotels for directions, and we were in a lovely, traditional, very cosy and warm, and quite grand hotel, just off the main Plaza de Armas. Our balconied window was in sight and sound of the bell tower of the main church. In under an hour we were eating one of the best meals of the trip in a French restaurant nearby - guanaco! for me and beef for Chris, with delicious merlot and a shared trio of flans, including calafate berries (a national seasonal delicacy).

    The following morning, after a quick tour of the banks to get cash (money is a whole other blog!), a photographic circuit of the Plaza, and a church visit, we were off again - on the 12.30 (las doce y media) coach to Puerto Natales, our ultimate destination for the next few days, to see the glaciers and the wildlife.
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  • Day52

    We took a break from the SIM card search and went to the San Marcos cathedral near the main square. Its a nice wooden cathedral with nice colors painted on giving it a gingerbread cookie house kind of a look 😁

You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of Chile, Chile, Chili, Kyili, ቺሌ, Cile, تشيلي, تشيلى, Çile, Tsile, Чілі, Чили, Sili, চিলি, ཅི་ལི་སྤྱི་མཐུན་རྒྱལ་ཁབ།, Čile, Xile, Şili, Chilska, ޗިލީ, Tsile nutome, Χιλή, Ĉilio, Tiiili, Txile, شیلی, Cilii, Kili, Ch·ili, Sily, An tSile, An t-Sile, ચિલી, Yn Çhillee, Cayile, Chṳ-li, צ׳ילה, चिले, Csile, Չիլի, Chíle, チリ共和国, tciles, ჩილე, ឈីលី, ಚಿಲಿ, 칠레, چلي, Shiile, Chilia, Síli, ຊິສິ, Čilė, Shili, Čīle, Чиле, ചിലി, चिली, Ċili, ချီလီ, Tsire, Chíilii, ଚିଲ୍ଲୀ, چېلي, चिलि, Cili, Čiile, Shilïi, චිලී, Cilé, Czile, சிலி, చిలి, ประเทศชิลี, ቺሊ, چىلى, چلی, Ciłe, Chi-lê (Chile), Cilän, Tchili, 智利, Чилмудин Орн, טשילע, Orílẹ́ède ṣílè, i-Chile

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