Half around the world and back

November 2019 - March 2020
Susanne & Machiel attempt to travel for a bit.
  • 143footprints
  • 8countries
  • 146days
  • 1.0kphotos
  • 2videos
  • 66.1kkilometers
  • 55.7kkilometers
  • Day 1

    Here we go

    November 7, 2019 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    This morning we woke up and thought 'let's go on a world trip'. Everything is packed, the bags are checked in and we are now waiting to board our first flight.

  • Day 1

    Amazing Toronto

    November 7, 2019 in Canada ⋅ ❄️ 0 °C

    After an 8 hour flight we arrived at the airport of Toronto just to wait another 8 hours here for our flight to Santiago. After almost 7 hours of waiting and attempted napping we are pretty exhausted. We're contemplating whether paying 3000 euro for a direct flight would've been worth it. Just kidding. We've seen enough of Canada and feel ready for our next destination.Read more

  • Day 3


    November 9, 2019 in Chile ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    After traveling for so long it was so nice to finally see a familiar face. Daniel will join us for the South-American leg of our trip. If we're lucky he might even write a guest post or two... 😉 We spent a night in Santiago at the friendly hosts of the Matsofy house. We walked a bit around in the neighbourhood. The overall image was very different to home. Houses looked very colorful, every house had a high fence with spikes on top and almost every house had at least one dog that liked barking. It wasn't close to the center but in the evening you could still hear some protests going on. Also, most supermarkets are closed because they were raided in the last weeks. Luckily there were still a lot of very tiny minimarkets to keep us feeded.

    We arrived at our hostel after almost 30 hours of traveling but it felt as if half a week had passed. It was 1 pm when we arrived and we decided to immediately adjust to the local time. This meant fighting the urge to sleep for several hours and we were very happy when we could finally go to bed to have a very long night of sleep.

    Now we are again at Santiago airport to head to the north... Atacama desert is waiting for us.
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  • Day 4

    San Pedro

    November 10, 2019 in Chile ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    Yesterday a short flight brought us to Calama Airport, from which we took a bus to the nearby town of San Pedro in the Atacama desert. It's a bit dry and dusty here for some reason. And the breakfast is so tasteful it took our breath away quite literally.Read more

  • Day 4

    Walking on the moon

    November 10, 2019 in Chile ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Being three indecisive people we spend most of the day trying to decide how we wanted to spend our days in this place. While a few things might be reachable by bike, a tour or a rental vehicle would be necessary to reach the most interesting things. Also we were not sure how doable cycling in the desert is when you are still adjusting to the altitude and dry hot climate. So we were sure we wanted to book some tours.

    But... which tours? How many tours? How much money and time did we want to spend on them? And how to decide on one out of more than 100 tour agencies?
    They all offer about the same tours for slightly different prices and with slightly different details. Looking up some reviews online it seems that with the cheaper ones the chance that vehicles break down during the tour is a bit higher.

    Finally we decided to go for a package of one tour a day (5) for about 170 € per person including park entry fees and applicable meals. Of course we only decided one hour before our first tour would start 😉 Grabbing water, sunscreen and a hat, we went to visit the valley of the moon. After a short bus ride, we arrived surrounded by rocks and dunes often covered in a layer of salt. This salt, the dust and sand we will probably still find in our clothes at the end of this year...
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  • Day 5


    November 11, 2019 in Chile ⋅ ☁️ 28 °C

    The tour of the day took us to the salt lakes Cejar and Piedra locally referred to as the Dead Sea of Chile. We were allowed to swim in the latter, which was an interesting experience. The Andes and its volcanoes provided the perfect backdrop. After a quick shower to rinse off the salt, we visited sweet-water crater lakes. While a desert, Atacama apparently does have quite some water underground. The tour ended with a sunset at lake Tebinquiche. What looks like ice is actually salt.Read more

  • Day 6

    The devil's throat

    November 12, 2019 in Chile ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    Due to a national strike in Chile on Tuesday, our tour of the day got postponed. Only hearing about this on Monday evening from the operator, we only just managed to rent mountain bikes in the town center so that we could take them out for a spin on Tuesday morning. Besides the bikes, we received some fancy vests and helmets. We planned to leave right after sunrise to avoid the heat in the afternoon. In combination with the heat, the humidity (or lack of) is actually what makes it so tough to adjust to the climate of the Atacama desert. It hovers around 15% and is a killer of our hands, noses and lips. We're going through creme like crazy.

    So after a bit of predictable delay we set off to 'Gargante del Diablo' . It was a gorgeous gorge with an excellent biking trail. It was also deserted, we only came across 2 other bikers on the trail. We took longer than expected, but that had more to with us stopping every 100 meters to take pictures and losing the way at one point, rather than anything to do with our mountain biking skills (we were awesome and did some rad stunts).

    Having lunch back in town we saw quite some footage of protests going on in various cities. Pretty shocking to watch.
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  • Day 7

    Lagunes and mountains without Machiel

    November 13, 2019 in Chile ⋅ ☀️ 0 °C

    After a quite bad night with lots of mosquitos in which Machiel did not feel well, we had to start our only full day tour with only two of us. Pickup time was at 7am and in the coming 10 hours we saw 5 lagunas and some local animals.

    On the way to our first stop we passed some still smoking remains of a road blockage from the protests yesterday. Luckily that did not stop us to reach the chaxa lagune where we could see our first flamingos of this trip. It was nice to see how peacefully they were sticking their heads in the water to find food. It was also nice and a bit surprising to see once more how nature seems to be respected here. Paths were marked well and tour guides make sure everyone stays within them.

    After a very nice breakfast with fresh and not stone-dry (finally!) bread, we continued to rise in altitude. At around 4200m it was noticeably colder and we visited laguna Miscanti and Laguna Miniques. The first one was partially covered by ice (and not salt like we are used to by now) which reminded us a bit of Norway.

    Further up the road we visited Laguna Salar de Talar. We were only allowed to see it from two viewpoints since some idiot tried kyte surfing there in January. Surprisingly this was not appreciated by the flamingos and locals and direct access to the water has since been closed. Nonetheless the view was stunning in such a colorful landscape and was together with the flamingos the highlight of this tour.

    After seeing one more lagune close to the Argentinian border, it was time to turn around to get lunch in a small restaurant in Socaire. On the way we saw some wild vicunas, the non-domesticated ancestor of the lama. And in the town of Toconao we saw some young lamas on a farm.

    Back in town we went out for dinner with Machiel who had been in bed most of the day.
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  • Day 8

    About freezing toes and hot geysers

    November 14, 2019 in Chile ⋅ 🌙 -3 °C

    Again without Machiel we had to leave as early as 4:30am with our tour to see the highest and third largest geothermal area of the world - Géisers del Tatio. Already in San Pedro we noticed that it was quite cold this early.

    After a 90 minute bus ride through the moonlit desert, we arrived once more at an altitude of 4200m and it was freezingly cold with -10 degrees. The contrast between all the steam and boiling water on one side and the frozen water on the marked paths, was quite a thing. And while walking with our tour guide through the area, I was happy to wear 2 pants and 4 upper layers. Nonetheless our toes and fingers started freezing pretty quickly and the sunrise was not only nice for the light effect but also appreciated for the warmth it brought. Overall a nice experience but after having been to Iceland also not that special. I was a bit disappointed by the lack of high water splashes.

    After breakfast in the first sunlight of the day, we had the chance to bath in some lukewarm springs to try to warm up our frozen body parts.

    Our next stop was a wetland with birds and on the way we were lucky to see again some cool local animals: rheas or ñandús (South American ostriches), viscachas (something looking like long-tailed bunnys which camouflage so well they are hard to spot in the rocky landscape), again vicuñas, more lamas and again flamingos 😊

    The last stop before returning to San Pedro was a small town with - according to our tour guide - 10 inhabitants but 20 houses and they were still busy building more... we did not really understand this but the local goat cheese was appreciated by Daniel 😉
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  • Day 8


    November 14, 2019 in Chile ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

    The geyser tour wasn't the only planned activity on Thursday. Late in the evening we had our last, but not least, tour of the week. Machiel felt a bit better at this point and the astronomy tour was fairly short, so we decided to go with the three of us.

    The tour operator brought us to a nearby outdoor astrometry area where they had several huge programmable telescopes. The night sky was incredible when we got out of the van. We knew the almost full moon was going to appear later, so we made use of the time to soak up all the impressions. The guides then explained some aspects of stars, planets, and galaxies. We got to use the different telescopes that were set up to see Saturn and some particularly bright stars.

    The guides also provided us with some nice local food, so all in all it was a very nice evening. When the Moon showed up the amount of visible stars greatly decreased but it was also cool to observe it through a telescope. We tried to make some nice pictures (also through the telescopes) but of course it was mostly a very dark setting that was hard to capture with our camera.
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