A Travellerspoint blog

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

My first border crossing!

sunny 25 °C

We had our bus booked to collect us just outside Purmamarca┬┤s village at 9am, which really meant 10.30am, I was really getting used to the timings of South Aerica, or should I say the very slow timimg of South America!
From here we drove through the last of Arentina┬┤s north/western landscapes towards the border of Chile. I cant describe it any other way than it looked like the landscape you would expect from Mars. Beautifully smooth sand dunes, mountains in red/orange colourings, dusty road paths and bright blue skies, with no clouds in sight. It was like this for at least 5 hours.

The border crossing was painless, although a bit long winded, but here i got my 2nd stamp in the passport from South America. Yay!!
I got a bit overwhelmed as the enormity of what I have been doing up until now had finally sunk in. Although I iss ho, family and friends massively, i realised then that if i was back home I would never get the opportunity to see or do what i have been and will de doing. It was a good feeling.

Once we left the Chilean Immigration it was a 5 minute journey to San Pedro de Atacama town. We were now in the desert. Blazing sunshine, sandy roads, a real chilled out atmosphere. the way I would describe this town would be a ski resort but instaed of snow, replace it with sand.
A big group of us fro the coach ended up going to the same hostel, which was ok on first impressions, altough we later found that it was a bit like a kids camp, where lights had to be turned off at 10pm and no alcohol was allowed on the premises. This we found was quite common in the whole town of San Pedro.

Its a great little touristy town where most peoples purpose is to go from here and cross the border into Bolivia by taking a 3 day tour to Uyuni, Bolivia, where you drive across the amazing Salt Flats. We booked with a tour operator Cordeillia, who were a bit pricey but very impressive and we had been reccommended them from a number of people. We had heard some horror stories about the cheaper operators and wanted to know we were safe.
So the town is made up of lots of tour operators, selling this tour, as well as star gazing trips, sand boarding etc... There are lots of resturants/bars, but you can only have an alcoholic beverage if you are eating and the night life dies down around 1 am, unless you are invited to a "secret party" (although its not so sectret as everyone knows about them).

Apart from chilling in the sun in the days and freezing our butts off at night, the only other thng i participated in, was the star gazing, which through the freezing temperatures, i really enjoued. You could see one "arm" of the Milky Way which was a amazing, the Southern Cross, the blazing orange of Mars and the rings around Saturn. As we were in the desert this was the perfect place to look at the stars, as it was so clear and no other light polution.

I really liked san pedro for its chilled out atmosphere, but for me this was only a stopping point for my next adventure towards Bolivia...

Posted by Chelseakeeler6 09:21 Archived in Chile Tagged landscapes sky Comments (0)

Purmamarca

This is where it starts getting interesting!!

sunny 19 °C

We arrive in Purmamarca at dusk... and it so different to what i have seen before. It really feels we have landed in a different country altogether.
Dusty roads, surrounded by mountains, and the locals are looking more native than ever! My first thought was to get the next bus out of here and head to the next city. Thankfully Adam and Maureen had a more of a positive outlook and assured me that this was all fine and where our real adventure will begin. Im sure it was a mixture of knowing we werent organised as before, as in; no hostel booked, it was getting dark and this was definitely out of my comfort zone! This was what is was all about though, travelling and expereincing different ways of life and culture!

We eventually found a hostel which was run by a resturant owner, very sweet little place and the 3 of us managed to get a room to share with 2 french girls.
The town itself was gorgeous by night, locals selling the commonly worn garments, in beautiful colours, ranging from, purses, to jumpers; made of alpaca wool, to blankets. The roads were sandy and dusty and at night it was freezing. We found a gem of a resturant up one of the tiny narrow streets. We were the only diners in there at first, and this is where i tried my first bit of lama meat. It was stir fired so didnt live up to its true taste, but still good, and a bottle of wine worked out to be no more than 3 pounds, and it was gooooood red wine! And we pulled more diners in... Who then saw us drinking at the hostel where we were staying, after dinner. They came in and we had another bottle of red wine, and enjoyed a few games of cards. 2 "maturer" couples from different cities of Argentina, who were on vacation. It felt so surreal to spend my evening with people that hardly spoke English, who were a considerably a bit older than I in a small, quiet place right next to a desert in Norethern Argentina! It was great!

The town of Purmamraca itself is famous for the "Cerro de los siete colores" which translates to "The hill of seven colours". As i said before the town is surrounded by mountains and one of these mountains has a variation of different colours flowing through the rocks, its stunning and can be seen whislt taking a used footpath for trekkers in and around the area of mountains (pics to follow). The weather was beautiful not so hot but still warm enough to be comfortable, but as we got highter up it began to get very windy.
We fell upon a tiny house from where the owner was selling hand made crafts. The house was gorgeous and so was the product. It was set in the valley of the mountains on a Lama farm, which Maureen got very excited about and had to have her photo taken!

Apart from the "Cerro de los siete colores" and the gorgeous little town, we decided there wasnt much here to stop us from heading onwards, and as I had a bit more of a schedule we decided to leave after 2 days. I am so happy I visited this gem of a place, and didnt get that next bus out after all!! From here we headed to San Pedro, Chile.....

Posted by Chelseakeeler6 08:07 Archived in Argentina Tagged mountains Comments (0)

Salta

Heading up North

overcast 12 °C

The bus journey from Mendoza to Salta is 19 hours.... The longest one so far, but no way the last journey to take this long or more, throughout my trip!
The scenery was beuatiful as you can imagine, from Mendoza, and I recommend bus journeys as a way of travelling from place to place through Argentina. The companies such as Andesmar deliver a good service, supplying blankets, pillows and food and drink throughout the journey.

I arrive in Salta with Adam who I met up with in Mendoza after Buenos Aies, and Maureen who I also met in BA was there to meet us. She had already booked into a hostel, so we took a taxi, which was cheap as chips to get to the hostel. It was in a good location, only 2 blocks from the town cente itself, and 4 blocks away from the monument and hill to trek to view the city.

Apart from the two mentioned above we didnt do much else in Salta, our hostel was really chilled and releaxed and the owners and friends/locals put on a great dinner the first night, of vegeterian and home made food.
Being the fitness freak I am, I decided to go for a run the next morning, with the two guys, Adam, and Dan (who I had met at the hostel) It was pretty tough, as we had gone up a considerable amount above sea level, since coming from Mendoza. We managed to run about 6k, which was good going.

We decided not to stay too long in Salta, 2 nights were fine, didnt sample any of the night life there, unfortunately.

Purmamarca was our next destination, which is south of Salta, and had been recommended by 2 Argentenians in BA. A bus to get there was easy enough so we decided to leave Salta the next day and carry on travelling North!

Posted by Chelseakeeler6 07:53 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Mendoza

sunny 18 °C

Here I am in Mendoza! The bus journey from Buenos Aires wasnt as horrific as I thought it would be, travelling at night is an advantage as I slept most of the way and it was only 13 hours and not 17, as I was informed!

Mendoza is a rather small city compared to BA. Its very much how i imagined most parts of Argentina to be; Spanish, traditional and lots of Colonial architecture.

So my main reason for visiting this city was to visit the wineries and enjoy tasting the wines of Mendoza. A lot of companies organise trips out to the different wine regions, and there are also opportunities to rent bicycles, to cycle to the different wineries in any order you choose. I opted for the latter ad rented bike from Mr Hugos, a popular company with back packers. Had such a great day, and weather was lush, unfortunately we started pretty late in the day so we were only able to visit two out of the several places on the route. They all shut at about 5.30-6pm and then police are around to escort you back if they think you have tasted a few too many wines! Very funny!

The Andes are very close to Mendoza, so myself, Adam and Andy ( guys I had met on the way) hired a car and took the road towards the Andes. A beautiful drive in and out of the mountains and valleys. Found some great mountain lodges and a ski resort, probably out of season at the moment but can imagine it to be quite a bustling town, when the time is right.

This isnt so much of a party town, more to recharge the batteries, eat some nice food and drink some fine wine....
Pics to follow. Getting rady for my next stop.... Salta, Northern Argentina.

Posted by Chelseakeeler6 06:11 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

One week done!

sunny

So I have been in BA for exactly a week, I have had such a fun time here.... Its a massive city and lots of very interesting things to see.

I ventured out on a bike tour on Tuesday which took group of us around the Southern part of the city. We visited La Boca, the home of La Boca Juniors football team, and also to some amazingly painted buildings, very colourful and a bustling part of town.
We also went to San Telmo, where I have previously visited and they took us to some major sights like Casa Rosado, home of the president. This is the Pink Building which featured in Evita, where she (Madonna) stood on the balcony and sung "Don't Cry for me Argentina!"

After this bike tour I won another bike tour to do on Thursday, and this took us to the North of BA which is a much nicer part of town, Palermo and Rocelleta. I really recommend doing something like this tour as you get to see the major parts of the city, and learn some history and very interesting facts of the city.

Lujan Zoo is a crazy crazy Zoo, nothing I have been too before and I dont think it would ever be allowed back home! Ill add some pics for you too see. Its 2 hours away on a bus from BA, so I would recommend going quite early as traffic is terrible coming back into BA in the evening....

Tried a steak last night too, was very good, but Im not a steak eater so to be honest I wouldnt know whether it was amazing as everyone said it was! :0) It was huge though and I was still full from it this morning!

Anyhoo, I am all packed up and ready to start my ravels to my next destination Mendoza! I have enjoyed every minute of BA but I am ready to leave this city and see some more of Argentina!
Until then Ciao for now

xx

Posted by Chelseakeeler6 11:30 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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