Arica, to be completely honest, is a bit of a hole. We wandered around today, checked out a body boarding comp and a 21 de Mayo parade… not a lot going on in this city. Tomorrow we’re out of here and spending the day traveling up to Arequipa in Peru where we’ll hopefully do a trek in the Colca Canyon and make the most of the 6 days (!) that I have left.
Adios Chile, you expensive minx. It’s been fun. See you when I come back down for Patagonia.
We’ve spent the last few days doing a whole lot of not much. Turns out Chile has decent supermarkets so we’ve made a few good meals, even a cheese platter and red wine (though I’m sorry to report that we couldn’t find haloumi). Nem’s been for a few surfs and we’ve been chilling out mucho.
The highlight so far has been a local football match that we went to this afternoon – Iquique vs. Arica – complete with anthems, yellow cards, red cards, fights, last minute goals and riot police. Good fun and, to top it all off, Iquique won.
Tomorrow we’re off to Arica – a smaller surf town about 5 hours up the coast from here. A few nights there, over the border and into Peru for a few nights in Arequipa and then off to Lima to fly out to Bali.
P.s – haven’t taken any photos so stole one from Google. Just pretend it’s mine and don’t tell the photographer because I doubt its Creative Commons. Gracias!
We’ve spent the last two days hanging out in San Pedro de Atacama, a cute little Chilean town close to the Bolivian border. Yesterday we went to Laguna Cejar, some swimming holes about 20km outside of the town with a salt concentration of 28%, which means that you float without even trying. You come out and instantly dry with a layer of salt all over your body. Delicious.
We also headed to anther sink hole filled with freezing cold water and then another huge lake that’s only about 5cm deep with a thick layer of salt on the bottom, which means that the reflection kind of makes it look like you’re walking on water. The sunset there was pretty spectacular with the last light shining on the volcanoes and mountains behind the lake.
This afternoon we’re off to a city called Iquique, which look like the Gold Coast (boooooo) but is supposed to have some good surf. Apparently the swell is going to be 6 or so meters so not sure if Liam will be in there or watching happily from the sidelines with me.
We’ve just made our way into Chile after 2.5 days on the Salt Flats of Uyuni. I actually didn’t think we’d make it through the first day – for some reason we thought it would be a terrible idea to sleep before our 6.50am flight from La Paz, so we partied the night away and said goodbye to our travel buddy Pete for the last time this trip. Big mistake. Bleary eyed and sleepless, we somehow made it to freeeeeeeezing cold Uyuni with very sore heads and a very cold toes.
We pushed through the first morning (though I may have been in a terrible mood – “Oh yeah. Old trains. Great. Lets go.”) but things got better as the day went on. We checked out the Salt Flats where Bolivians exports however many tens of thousands of tonnes of salt every year and then drove a bit further out onto the plains where we had lunch – I literally asked if there was any salt I could put on my meal, duh. After that we made out way to this little hill type thing covered in cacti, some over 900 years old, surrounded by the bright white salt desert and then onto our hotel for the night which was made entirely of salt.
The next day, feeling a lot fresher after going to bed at 7.30pm, we checked out more parts of the desert. Lakes, rock formations, more lakes and more rock formations (Liam even managed to find some barrels in them), flamingos, half rabbit/squirrels that came to munch on some pasta as we had lunch. Finished up playing Gin Rummy with the 60-somethings from our group and in bed by 8.30.
This morning it was up at 5am to see the Geysers spewing out sulfur steam and bubbling mud. I bailed to the car because it was about -1 degrees and I couldn’t feel my ears but Nem managed to get some good photos and not fall in to the pits. After that it was off to some thermal baths (amazing and, more importantly, warm) and then onto Chile.
We’re only going to spend a week or so here as I have to be up in Lima and the cost of this place is a bit of a shock to the system after months of cheap living, especially in Bolivia and Peru.
Over and out.
P.s- happy belated Mothers Day to our Mumsies. We love you mucho.
We’ve just made it back from three days in Potosi, an area heading into (but not quite the thick of) the Bolivian Jungle. I can’t really be bothered to be too descriptive right now… the altitude back here in La Paz is killing me, so here are the highlights:
- Flying in a small death canister right next to the snow capped peaks that surround La Paz
- Having an awesome German chick called Brita as the other third of our group. Legend.
- Spotting mucho animals on the boat ride to our lodge – some kind of wombat / rat, crocodiles, birds, monkeys and pink dolphins
- Waking up to the sound of Howler Monkeys. Jurassic Park eat your heart out.
- Anaconda hunting in gumboots through swamps, though no actual anacondas (wrong time of year)
- Piranha fishing… Nem and I managed to catch a stick each. The guide got all of the piranhas.
- Crocodile hunting at night. So many hidden and only spotted by the torchlight in their eyes.
- Swimming with pink dolphins in the very same river that we were spotting crocodiles in the night before. One came up to play with me. I definitely squealed and may have kicked it in the head… it didn’t come back to play again.
- Great guides and cooks.
- The mosquito bites are definitely not a highlight but so extreme they deserve a mention.
For some reason all of Bolivia seems to be striking and blocking the roads for various reason and we don’t want to risk being stuck again, so tomorrow we fly to a town called Uyuni to and head out for three days on a tour of the Salt Flats, finishing up down in Chile, the last of the new SA countries before heading back up to Lima and out to Bali.
Despite nightmares the night before, Death Road was actually much more fun and less scary than expected. It was definitely not a beginner ride (we’ve heard quite a few painful stories), but we all manage to make it safe and sound. We rode about 60km, starting next to a snow capped peak and finishing up in a hot valley about 3000 meters below. Great views, great guides, all in all an awesome day.
Had an amazing day- made it down Death Road sans deaths, scratches or grazes. I guess we now just call it “The Road”, which is super boring.
Off to the jungle tomorrow morning at 4am an back in civilisation Thursday. Proper updates and photos then!