- and so much more!
...I don't even know where to begin!!! I was sad to leave Peru, especially since we were rushing it a little bit and actually missed Arequipa completely. On the other hand, after buying a guidebook on the treks in Patagonia, we were very determined to get there as soon as possible, itching to get out and do some hiking...
We didn't feel like spending too much time in northern Chile - mostly deserts, and one of South Americas most expensive countries - but San Pedro de Atacama was defenitely worth a couple of days. Not only the driest place on Earth, the town itself was also spectacular and didn't look like anything I've ever seen before. It made me feel like I was in a middle of an old Western movie, and I just expected to see Clint Eastwood walking down the street in cowboy boots. We explored the surrounding desert with rented mountainbikes. Went to both Valle de la Luna and Quebrada del Diablo, being constantly thirsty in the hot, dry climate, and constantly fascinated by the weird, extraterrestrial landscape.
Even more fascinating was the Tatio geiser field, where we went an extremely early morning to catch the best views at sunrise. We left San Pedro at 4 o'clock in the morning, andwhen we arrived at the geisers at 6 a.m. the temperature was still below freezing. Nevertheless, we felt obliged to put on our swim suits and go for a swim in the hot springs. It wasn't too bad - until we had to get up again. At least we got some cool (!) pictures!
Me by the geiser
Then we hit the road again, heading for Argentina. Working our way down south through Salta, Cafayate, Tafi del Valle and Mendoza, we spent a week our so, indulging and enjoying the pleasures of the abundant vineyards and the excellent food (strong Italian influences here, what can I say...?). Everything in order to gain a couple of extra kilos before 2 months down in Patagonia! We've only done 2 hikes so far - around Volcán Antuco and Baños del Caulle, both on the Chilean side - and we're already looking a bit skinny...! Though, we are going back to Argentina to spend Christmas in Bariloche and try out their famous chocolate, so I think we are gonna get around that problem fairly soon.
Food - and good food too!
Patagonia... It's magical to be here, finally. Hiking around this area is a childhood dream coming true. Though, it's a demanding task to make it come true! The trekking is sometimes strenuous. We have encountered scorching deserts and blistering cold (just like Prince Charming, in Shrek II). On the last trek we got lost for 24 hours and then had to walk 4 kilometers in wet, heavy snow, slightly uphill... To reach the refugio and be able to sleep indoors was a relief, but it didn't last for long: we woke up at 4 a.m. when 4 Chilean boyscouts stumbled in, talking in loud voices, taking photos with a flash, and waking up not only us but also all the birds (several birdnests under the roof)! Then they all fell asleep really fast and started snoring like crazy while the birds were whistling and trilling the rest of the morning...
So, yes, sometimes I do ask myself: why? But on the other hand, after getting back from one hike, I can't wait til the next one! And as you probably can imagine, we're not going to Bariloche merely for the chocolate. The trekking around there is supposed to go through some of the finest scenery in the whole Lake District.
That's all for now, I wish everyone in the world a great Christmas, take care of yourself and your friends!!!