I'd like to present our latest video, a photo-based guide sharing some advice on how to best appreciate nature. I had a lot of fun putting this one together, looking over our vast and ever-growing collection of photos from our adventures in the wild. Hope you all enjoy! - Mandrew
WOW - about sums it up! We just spent two weeks in Northern Patagonia (the Arctic of South America) with a rental truck. It is a weird time of year to do it since it is fall now and too cold for most tourists (but not us Canadianses) but it was great because we had the whole place to ourselves!
Ideally maybe it would have been nicer to camp with either warmer weather, or proper cold weather camping gear. We did camp a few nights but were really freezing cold (there was ice involved) so whenever possible we stayed in hostels (which were so expensive, like US$30/night compared to the rest of SA, avg US$10). The coldniss and rainyniss also made hiking slightly less enjoyable, though for the most part we had pretty good weather, considering.
We started our two week truck rental in Puerto Montt (see travel map, southern Chile) and decided to also return it there since it would cost an extra US$500 to drop it off in another town, jeeeesh. We got the extra insurance to be able to cross the border into Argentina (about $100 extra) and then headed out! Our itinerary was a bit screwed up since we didn't have much success researching the best routes to take etc. So if you are reading this as a travel guide for yourself I have a number of recommendations at the bottom of this so you don't waste time like we did!
Have you ever really looked at a map of Chile? Really looked at it? The country is long and skinny, bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the west and the Andes mountains (the world’s longest mountain range) on the east with not too much between them. It stretches 4600 km north to south from the driest place in the world to the most southern city in the world, and is only 150 km wide on average (about twice the length of the Panama canal). This crazy geometry makes it impossible to look at a map of Chile on a single page, a bit frustrating when trying to plan our travels using our Lonely Planet.
We entered Chile from Bolivia after our salt flats tour and found ourselves in the tourisy town of San Pedro de Atacama, the driest place in the world (it rained for the first time in 5 years just last week). Immediately we noticed a difference in the culture - the streets were clean, people were very friendly and happy looking, things were much more expensive, there were plenty of good food options available, drivers stopped at red lights and stop signs, and as tourists we didn't stand out quite as much as we did in Bolivia where streets were littered with garbage, people were friendly enough but also maybe, understandably, a little resentful toward travellers, everything was overly affordable, food lacked flavor of any kind and consisted mainly of stale bread and eggs, and driving or walking on any road was a significant risk to your life. Don’t get me wrong; I loved Bolivia for many reasons, but it was not a place that I would recommend travelling to with young children or if you have any kind of personal standards for cleanliness or health.
After checking out San Pedro for an afternoon we decided to spend the next day exploring the famous national park Valle de la Luna. Although there were many tours offered in town, since it was so close by we decided to rent bicycles and check it out at our own pace. We grabbed some groceries for a picnic lunch and rode out of town and into an incredibly unique landscape that’s perfectly described by its name “Valley of the Moon”. We stopped at a number of recommended locations along the park road and did a few short hikes. I found the area to be very geologically interesting! Layers of weathered gypsum and caves formed by water and wind erosion. The surrounding hills looked like they had been painted: sandstones and siltstones, reds and yellows, boulders and sand dunes. The air was so dry that both of us had bleeding noses by the end of the day (that as of a month later still haven’t fully healed) but it was worth it to explore the alien landscape. Our legs were very sore the next day but we got some rest on the bus while we made our way south.
Turns out, you can even be chili on the moon,
To open the above photo slideshow in another window, click here.