Chile

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Day 83 again - Everywhere and nowhere

Flippin' long flight. We had to go via Los Angeles and Peru so we were travelling for over 30 hours. Luckily we crossed the date line so actually arrived only a few hours after we set off...

It's a ridiculously shaped country. 4,500km long and about 200km wide. (GB is about 1500km long)

 


Days 84 - 88: Santiago

We're in Chile's capital to join an overland truck that will take us all the way up the west coast over the next 9 weeks. What a ridiculous idea.

It's just the same as any other capital city. Big and smoggy with lots of beggers. Probably my first ever donation to a begger... I agreed to a nice old chap's request to fill his cup with coke from my big bottle.

Went to the zoo. It's much easier to spot animals in zoos than in the wild, but somehow it's not half as much fun.

A wild animal in Santiago zoo. Or is this the begger? I get mixed up...

 

Home for the next 2 months

Day 89 - La Serena

Joined the truck. There's 28 of us. The average age is quite low, most are early 20's and nearly all are singles. We'll be spending the next 9 weeks driving over 8,000km, camping half the time and hostelling the other half.

In the evening there was a fruit punch was made which was based on vodka and nail polish remover. It got quite messy seeing beakfast again the next morning...

 

Day 90 - La Serena

Spent the day on the beach playing volleyball and taking photos which made it look like we could actually play...

I promise it's not a set up photo...

The moon

In the evening we went to an observatory in the mountains where the sky is always clear and there's little light pollution. Even with their 40cm reflector telescope, Jupiter and Saturn were tiny. The moon was impressive though.

Apparently there's more stars than there are grains of sand on earth. Somebody must have got bored counting...

Saturn

 

Day 91 - Bahia Ingles

Woke from a cold night* and chipped the ice off Michelle's face. It's going to get warmer as we go into the Atacama desert, but then much colder as we go into the Peruvian Andes. We will need to buy warmer sleeping bags. I can't believe my £10 sleeping bag isn't adequate...

*5'C outside, 8'C in the tent. The same as your fridge...

A random hand in the desert
 

Day 92 - Antafagasta (bizarre night!)

We had to divert as our truck driver needed to get to a town to go to hospital with a random swollen knee. We turned up at the nearest civilisation but the only camp site was also hosting a students all-night party... Well, if you can't beat them, join them - it turned into a good night mixing with real Chilians. Ear plugs helped us sleep from 3am to 7am, then we were on the road again...

 

Day 93 & 94 - San Pedro De Atacama. Altitude 2450m

Up into the Atacama desert in the Andean mountains. The driest place in the world. Apparently it hasn't rained since records began. The campsite was at 2450m (The highest mountain in England is ~1000m, ski resorts are <2000m, Everest is ~8400m). Sunset in the mountains

Went sandboarding but the hike to the top was a nightmare. Managed to crash face first into the sand and got an eyeful. I tried to open my eye and all I could see was orange light filtering through the sand covering my contact lens. 72 hours later I was still picking it out.
SandboardingMichelles intro to standup sandboarding

 

Day 95 - Bolivian volcanoes

The altitude is a killer. Today we went up to 4900m and we really suffered. You feel weak, tired and get a bad headache. We had coca leaf (cocaine plant) tea which is supposed to help increase altitude tolerance. Walking made your head rattle like the worst hangover ever. I hope we become tolerant to it before we walk the Inca trail in a few weeks.

Coca (cocaine) tea

Hot water (41'C) pool at the top of the volcanoWild llama

The Andes here are still actively volcanic, with hot water springs, coloured lakes and boiling mud pools.

I haven't just thrown a stone in, that's boiling mud

Flamingo lake

The lakes are extremely inhospitable. All that survives in them is a pink coloured algae. And all that eats the algae is flamingoes. (Don't quote me on the 'all' bit...)

 

Next country - Argentina