To the "Navel of the World"...
Trip Start Feb 01, 2014
6Trip End Jul 03, 2014
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- Total Distance Travelled : 20,145.8 miles
- Total Time on Bus : 181 hours
Time for another entry and, as usual, weīve left it quite a while since we posted anything - sketchy internet and working our way back up the length of Chile and Argentina is to blame! As a result, this entry is a bit of a monster and crams quite a bit in, so in return thereīs extra photos if you make it to the bottom!
After a day of rest following the end of the īWītrek, we headed back to El Calafate where we visit the perito Merino glacier
From El Calafate we took our longest bus journey yet, a rip-roaring 29hrs up to the Argentinian Lake District - Bariloche. We enjoyed the stunning scenary by bike, riding a 24km circuit up and down lots of hills broken up with spectacular views and a small local brewery. With our Irish companion, Susie, we made our way further north to the wine region surrounding Mendoza. The bus journey was one of the best so far, not only did Martin get to drive the bus, but Susie won the bus bingo and we enjoyed a free bottle of wine, along with champagne whilst reclining in our massive leather seats. We enjoyed the winearies by bike and bus - seeing the spectrum of qualities of wines produced - we are now malbec "experts"!!
Leaving Mendoza also signalled the end of our time in Argentina, as we headed over the nearby-ish border in to Chile (which was an incredibly scenic bus trip through the Andes mountains)
After a 2 day stop over in Santiago, we embarked on one of our most exciting adventures so far. We flew more that 2,000 miles west of Chile to the small land mass, Easter Island. With a population of less than 6,000 and area of just over 60 sqmiles, this isolated Island is completely unique. Itīs thousands of miles from the next area of land, and can only be accessed from Santiago, Chile, or Tahiti. We had 5 days learning about the history of the island and itīs famous Moai (the large stone heads). There are close to 900 Moai doted around the island. Some are errected on plinths, some still lie, face-down, in the ground. Almost half of them are still located in the quarry where the majority of them were made.
The big mysteries of the island are; where did the original inhabitants come from, why were the Moai constructed and how were they moved to the various sites around the island
Easter Island was where we were when the 8.2 earthquake hit northern Chile. Although there was an air-raid siren on the island that went off, we were completely unaware on the Tsunami warning that had been issued - we even spent much of the evening sat at the coastline enjoying the stars! Luckily there was no tsunami, but there were a few more earthquakes - including one which we felt in Valparaiso measuring 5.6. Valparaiso was our next stop, a beautiful, brightly coloured city perched on several hills
We seemingly were not satisfied with the small earthquake we had experienced and we headed to the epicentre of the 8.2 in the town of Iquique. Declared a disaster zone only 4 days earlier, it was a ghost town when we arrived. Although some of the roads out of the town were craked, less than 1% of the population had been displaced by the earthquake - amazing really considering the size of it. Our reason for visiting this area was the Humberstone and Santa Laura saltpeter works. These are 2 former saltpeter (potassium nitrate) refineries which were abandoned in 1960. What remains are deserted factories and a town with a theatre, school, houses, hospital etc... It was named a Unesco world heritage site in 2005 and due to itīs high level of disrepair it remain an site highly in danger of being lost.
Our last stop in Chile was San Pedro De Atacama. A small town in the dryest desert on earth. Although filled with tourists, the town has a lovely atmosphere. We had a fun-packed few days of sandboarding, star-gazing, visiting geysers and floating in salt lakes.
We then headed across the border to Bolivia and the amazing Salar De Uyuni.