As most of you know, we are now safely back home in San Diego! We finally arrived back in town on Saturday 2/21 after nearly 4 months of traveling through South America. About a month ago our Macbook started having major issues which made it impossible to update the blog, which is why this post is so late in coming.
This post includes photos from the remainder of our time in Chile and future posts will detail our experiences in Peru and Bolivia (and Hogwarts).
We arrived in La Serena, Chile after taking the bus up the coast from Valparaiso. La Serena is a pretty boring little beach town with not much going on. The main attraction is a tour of the Elqui Valley which is a desert valley inland from La Serena. On the tour you stop at a few different locations but the most interesting part is the pisco distillery tour. Pisco is a Peruvian spirit made from grapes and is mostly used in pisco sours.
Churrasco sandwiches are cheap and delicious in Chile.
Chile is a veritable Mecca of astronomy. Its many dry, high altitude regions give Chile perfect conditions for stargazing and most of the world’s largest telescopes are located in the country. We toured an observatory near La Serena and were amazed at the spectacle of the stars we witnessed there.
From La Serena we moved onto San Pedro de Atacama, a tiny touristy town in the middle of the Atacama Desert. San Pedro offers many tours of the bizarre desert landscape around the town. There are geysers, desert lagoons, salt flats, brightly colored mountains, and other crazy natural features that make the area feel like another planet altogether.
Our friend, the vicuña. Vicuñas are one of the 4 types of camelids the roam South America (along with llamas, alpacas, and guanacos). They are a protected species and killing one results in years of jail time. Their fur is incredibly soft and vicuña sweaters retail for thousands of dollars.
On our way back to town after the tour we witnessed this crazy rainbow cloud, apparently called a circumhorizontal arc, or “fire rainbow.” The conditions that create this phenomenon are very precise. The sunlight must pass through hexagonal ice crystals in the atmosphere at just the right angle for it to happen.
Valley of Death, San Pedro.
From the desert to the beach. After our time in San Pedro, we traveled to Iquique, a beautiful beach town in the northern coast of Chile. Our bus arrived in Iquique around 4:30 AM, much too early to check into our hostel. We were told we could sleep on the couches in the lounge but unfortunately a few drunk tourists were passed out on the couches and didn’t go back to their rooms until hours later. They were kind enough to offer us shots of vodka before they left. Somehow vodka did not sound appealing at 7:00 in the morning.
Our last stop in Chile was Arica, another beach town in the north. After two days in Arica we used a complicated combination of shared taxi and buses to cross the border into Peru on our way to Cusco and the Inca Trail.
Up next: Five days on the Inca Trail
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