A Travellerspoint blog

Western Argentina and Chile

Greetings everyone from the Atacama desert,the driest area in the world.
Once again Ive had quite an active month cycling and walking a lot but have
also managed to do a fair bit of partying, a few gt experiences but some
less enjoyable ones too...
The Lake District is an area that goes across the Chilean and Argentinian
border, it is predictably gd looking and I was lucky enough to have gt
weather on the Argentinian side which meant i could climb a couple of mountains
and do everything I wanted to pretty easily. The Chilean side was a bit
different, the weather was mainly dreadful. Pissing rain and freezing cold
which was particularly annoying as I was camping the whole time. However,
the centre of the area is a fairly famous place called Pucon which has a
couple of awesome national parks which were just beautiful as they were
covered in snow when I was there (its late Autumn here). The undoubted
highlight tho both of Chile and one of the entire trip itself was climbing
Volcan Villarica. I had to wait 4 days b4 the weather cleared up enough to
climb it and it is covered in snow and ice all the yr round. It´s the first
time I've ever climbed up a glacier and it made me realize just how brave
serious mountain climbers are. It was a hard climb and I was one of only 4
people who made it to the summit (gratifyingly beating 25 Israeli soldiers)
with the parts on the ice being quite scary at times when you fall and have
to put your axe down to stop you falling further. We had a small storm at
the summit which meant we could only stay a few minutes in some of the least
pleasant weather Ive ever experienced, my camera also didn't work so
apologies for no photos as I would place it as one of the top views Ive ever
had.
After the lake district I took a long bus North to the city of Mendoza which
is world famous for the quality of its wine. I did a wine tour where you get
slowly pissed as you try and cycle between vineyards drinking a glass in
each. Dangerously fun.
It was my last stop in Argentina and I really will miss the place;
culturally perhaps barring Italy it´s my favorite country I've ever been
to, with gt cities, incredible natural sights, great people and of course
the brilliant football! The fact it´s so cheap makes it surely one of the
best places in the world to travel in and I can´t recommend it enough.
After passing Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the world outside of the
Himalayas (which unfortunately I couldn't climb as you can only do so in
Summer) I crossed back into Chile on surely one of the spectacular border
crossings in the world about 3000m up. I headed to the beautiful city of
Valparaiso, thought by many to be the most beautiful city in South America,
its on a range of hills along the coast and pretty much all the houses are
painted really bright colors meaning I took many photos and would spend my
days simply wandering around the streets. The nightlife was also great there
too but I've realized that my taste in Latin American music provokes
hilarity from anyone I have a conversation about it with. My favorite type
is called Reggaeton and comes from Puerto Rico, Ive bought a few CDs of it
but whenever I tell this to anyone they just start laughing. I asked one lad
why its so funny and the response he gave translates as something like "Only
young, poor people in cities like it" which I suppose means Chavs in
English. It´s strangely reassuring to think that whilst stripped of So Solid
and Lady Sovereign I´m still able to find the local equivalent without
trying. Unfortunately my last night there began something of a nightmare 3
days in terms of security after 0 problems in the previous 8 months. First
of all my wallet got nicked when I was in a club in Valpo, it only had about
$15 but it also had a ticket to see DMX that cost $26 in it. After Babycham
got cancelled in Guyana because of a shooting and Bryan Adams got cancelled
in Uruguay because of a freak electrical storm it became the third concert
I've had a ticket for but not been able to go to on this trip for a random
reason.
I then went to the very bland and smog filled Santiago where I saw El
Superclassico de Chile, basically the biggest football match in the country.
The match itself was fine but afterwards it was a nightmare as the police
closed the Metro so I wasn't able to get back to my hostel. After seeing
various small clashes between the 2 sets of fans as well as various muggings
and pickpocketings it was then my turn and whilst I lost nothing worse than
a pair of sunglasses and only got slapped a couple of times it was still a
horrible experience. So I decided to get very drunk that nite only to wake
up and find Id lost $50 somehow. Nightmare few days.
I was thankfully able to get away to Easter Island where I spent an
enjoyable week running around the Moai (the famous statues) the island was
not very big so I spent 3 days on a bike, 3 walking and the other day
caving. Only a few sites have been restored but there are literally hundreds
of others to go and explore in complete tranquility along the coast.

After arriving back onto the mainland I took a very long bus North to the
Atacama desert which is an incredible place to be. Not only is it huge, it´s
almost unbelievably dry. I didn't see a single tree in the 24hr bus ride
from Santiago and yesterday went to a place called the Valley of the Moon
where it hasn't rained for over 400 years. Unsurprisingly there´s virtually
no settlements but the landscape of desert leading onto the volcanoes of the
Andes is as special as it sounds.
Unfortunately I´m leaving tomorrow as I've simply traveled too slowly, I´m
off to Butch and Sundance country where I´ll spend a month b4 going onto
Peru. Chile is a spectacularly beautiful country with so many outdoor
activities you could spend a very long time here if you chose, it´s perhaps
culturally not the most interesting country on the continent but its
diversity of landscape makes up for that. After spending most of my time so
far in the developed triumvirate of Brazil, Argentina and Chile the
traveling will undoubtedly change as I head into the much poorer Northwest
of the continent where I look forward to cheaper prices but perhaps harder
day to day traveling.

Hope you´re all well and looking forward to the Summer,
from San Pedro
Barney

Posted by carlswall 05:08 Archived in Chile

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