A Travellerspoint blog


Road trip across the Andes

sunny 93 °F
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On January 30, we took an Andesmar double-decker bus from Vina del Mar, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina. we had a front row seat 20190130_131014_resized.jpgon the top level, but the window had an embedded mesh to help cut down on glare that also made forward photography rotten Still it was an exciting and scenic ride. After a long climb up a road with many broad curves.we reached the last 20 km of Chile and began a steep climb with 30 switchbacks, 20190130_114907_resized.jpg followed by a somewhat gentler, but constant climb on broad curves until we reached the top of the pass and drove under a sign indicating we were leaving Chile.20190130_115331_resized.jpg A few more kilometers up the road, we went through the two mile long Cristo Redentor Tunnel20190130_115845_resized.jpg before making a stop for border control and customs. The process took about an hour and we were fortunate becuase 3 more buses arrived after us. The ride down the Argentine side featured mostly gentler slopes and few switchbacks.20190130_121123_resized.jpg Despite the high altitude (10,400 feet) the temperature was more than 90 F.

Posted by judgelarry 11:30 Archived in Chile Comments (2)

Vina del Mar

semi-overcast 72 °F
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We did not come here for sightseeing, but rather, for a restful interlude marking the end of the first half of this trip. We love beaches and love to be near, and often, in, the ocean, but this is definitely not an ideal place for doing so. The Humbodlt current keeps the western coast of South America cold all the way to the equator. It also cools the waters around the Galapagos Island and is an important marine ecosysrem. I waded in to my knees on our first day here, but that was enough. 20190127_123436_resized_1.jpg A constant, cool breeze coming off the water deters all but the most ardent sun worshipers from just lying on the beach3626f960-23fe-11e9-903c-1bed4ab6b663.jpg. Nevertheless, we have loved our stay here and wish we could remain longer, as we would eventually work ourselves into the water. Apparently many Chileans love to spend time here as well. The town is peppered with many beautiful condo towers. 36904280-23fe-11e9-9af4-47c23209750e.jpg36991c20-23fe-11e9-8248-1fe58d8bcbd4.jpg

we have a nice pool on the rooftop of our condo here; the water is cool, but not cold. The strong breeze up there is more of a deterrent to lingering for long, even after noon which is about when the sunshine emerges after an almost daily morning overcast.366d2a20-23fe-11e9-903c-1bed4ab6b663.jpg We enjoyed watching sunsets while lying in bed.3607ffb0-23fe-11e9-8248-1fe58d8bcbd4.jpg

Tomorrow, we resume our travels, moving on bu bus over the Andes to Argentina where we will visit 5 cities, all set against the eastern flanks of the Andes, none that we have visited previously, except the last, Ushuaia, on Tierra del Fuego. From there, we will take a small ship, and head....even further ...South!

Watch this space for further developments!

Posted by judgelarry 12:28 Archived in Chile Comments (1)


sunny 93 °F
View Austral (Southern) Adventure on judgelarry's travel map.

We had a very nice time for four days in Santiago (except that we did not have wifi, as promised, at our Airbnb condo).
We met up with FB friend and fellow world traveler, Pam Skillings. and spent a lovely afternoon with her on Tuesday, 22 January.20190122_171136_resized.jpg20190122_165355_resized.jpg We posed for a photo at Palacio Moneda and then walked through a number of pedestrian-only streets to the north of there and east toward the Plaza des Armas.

On Wednesday we took the subway north to the central market and then walked to the base of Cerro San Cristobal in search of a jewelry store we had visited 5 years ago. we found the location, but it had gone out of business. But no worries, there were many other stores in that area that alos specialized in Lapis Lazuli, the reason behind our quest. We had a very nice lunch at Pantaleon Restaurant Pantaleon Restaurant

Pantaleon Restaurant

and enjoyed a locally produced belgian beer 20190123_140426_resized.jpg and walked south to Baquedano station where we took the subway back to La Moneda which was nearest to our Condo.

On Thursday, we took the hop-on-hop-off tourist bus around town going all the way east to the Parque Arauco Mall and then returning to the center of town along the flank of Cerro San Cristobal where we got off to board the teleferico at oasis station and rode up to the top to get off at the midpoint station at Piscina Tupahue. P1240365.JPG 20190124_113002_resized.jpg From there, we took the ParqueMet shuttle bus (about $0.60 for seniors) to the larger pool with an even better view of the city, Piscina Antilen.P1240376.JPGP1240372.JPGP1240367.JPG20190124_123515_resized.jpg20190124_122233_resized.jpg
After a enjoying the pool and the views for a couple of hours, we took the shuttle back to Tupahue and re-boarded the teleferico to ride on to to the summit at San Cristobal hill station. There, we took a few photos, 20190124_142314_resized.jpg and descended via the funicular to resume our city circuit on the tourist bus. 20190124_145305_resized.jpg

On Friday, we went by subway again from Toesca station to the central market to buy some fresh salmon. We returned on the tourist bus from Plaza des Armas. After lunch, we took the tourist bus again to the Parque Arauco Mall where we got off for Joyce to do some shopping while I had some ice cream and used the mall's wifi.. We took the bus back to la moneda and picked up some last minute provisions for dinner.

At around 9:45 am on Saturday, we took a taxi to the Alameda bus terminal where we purchased a one way ticket to Vina del Mar leaving at 10:26. We arrived in Vina about 12:50 and took a taxi to our incredible top floor Airbnb condo with this view.20190126_133701_resized.jpg

More about Vina in the next entry.

Posted by judgelarry 09:18 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Danger in the desert

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the road between San Pedro and Calama (which has the nearest airport) is quite smooth and well marked for the many steep hills and sharp turns as it crosses at least three ridges of Andean foothills. Approximately 10 km northwest of San Pedro is what I suspect is the longest stretch (my guess is 3 km) of straightaway on this 90 km journey. When we visited the rainbow valley we had seen the wreckage of a terrible collision between three vehicles smack in the middle of this long piece of straight road. I was ready with my camera as we approached the site on our way to the airport on 21 January. Here is a view of the straight section of road: a7d3cd50-2312-11e9-b1a0-131e280e0327.jpg

It appeared that two pieces of wreckage had been removed during the previous 36 hours; one a white semi tractor, and the other, a car or van that had been shredded. There remained this part which seems to be the remains of another semi tractor. It's a haunting memory and a grim reminder that not all that you may see on your travels is pleasant.

Posted by judgelarry 08:01 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Geysers at sunrise and some interesting wildlife

sunny 20 °F
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On our last morning in the Atacama, we ventured out in darkness for a 100 km drive to the Tatio geysers. This is the third largest geyser field in the world, and one of its most compact, with perhaps 30 vents within an area of less than 5 acres. most are steam columns and that is the primary reason why the site is best visited during the chill of early morning. Asthe air gets warmer, the visual effect is significantly diminished. It was about 20 degrees Fahrenheit when we arrived, but the display was grand. There are a few vents that send up columns of water, but the highest is no more than 10 feet. The local version of "old faithful" shoots up only about 1 meter, but it does so for about 20 seconds and repeats the show about 90 seconds later.DSCN5190.JPGDSCN5187.JPGDSCN5188.JPGDSCN5194.JPG20190121_063944_resized.jpg 20190121_065841_resized.jpg I made a video of the eruption, but travellerspoint has made it incredibly difficult to insert video footage on this site.

On the return to San Pedro, the temperatures grew more pleasant, but we were still early enough to enjoy a couple of rare wildlife sightings along with the usual assortment of vicuna, flamingos, gulls, coots, and common ducks. First, we encountered a fox who seemed eager to pose for as many photos as possible.DSCN5207.JPGRSCN5241.JPG.

Next we saw a small warren of vizcacha and I was able to get pretty good images of two of them. Though they bear a resembalance to rabbits, they are not closely related, as they are actually rodents more closely related to the chinchilla. In order to avoid frightening them into hiding, it was necessary to take photos through the bus window which gave a greenish tint. I modified the photos to give them a more grayish cast to create a better representation of the color of the animal and the surrounding scenery. .DSCN5236.JPGFSCN5246.JPGFSCN5244.JPG.

Later, we passed a large lagoon that was popular with many birds, including coots, ducks, gulls, and both the Andean and Chilean flamingo. I captured a couple of fantastic videos of flamingos twisting side to side while walking with their beaks in the water, but again, Ifind it much too challenging to go through the hoops necessary to post it here. DSCN5251.JPG78665c40-2290-11e9-8386-7397e2e931ba.JPGDSCN5247.JPGDSCN5213.JPGRSCN5239.JPG

Posted by judgelarry 07:12 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

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