All posts filed under: South America

The Takeaway: Chile

Our third country on this round the world trip, Chile was the least planned on our South American itinerary. The country has many amazing cultural sites and every extreme natural wonder to choose from. However, we found ourselves really taking it slow and sticking to a few key cities. From our first day, we knew that this was a country we would visit again in the future. We were unexpectedly charmed by Santiago. This metropolitan city was a welcome change from our more rural stays in Peru and Ecuador.  We enjoyed the affordable wine and steaks and great airbnb options that made us feel right at home! While deep south Patagonia was out of the question due to our winter timing, we were still able to experience the beauty of nature in Puerto Varas and the Los Lagos district. We cannot wait to come back and explore the rest. Cultural Highlights Chilean love for the hot dog was really surprising! Their favorite toppings were mayo, tons of tomatoes and avocado. Not our personal favorites but there are …

Puerto Varas, Hey Now it’s the Sun and it Makes Us Smile

A week into our visit and Saturday morning was upon us again, the forecast finally had a sun in it. Our indoor days were great, but we needed to bring balance back into our lives. We got up before the sun, Bekah made breakfast, then packed our picnic; we were determined to reach the Mirador of Petrohué and the odds were ever in our favor. We didn’t let the bus running an hour let get us down, we knew we had plenty of time. The weather could not have been more obscure, we experienced all four seasons in various orders constantly throughout the hike and just as before, almost every step had us sinking in, but it was one of the most peaceful treks we had been on. It was so quiet and with no animals in sight, we felt as if we were on a rescue mission on an unknown planet for a colleague who had crash landed and left a trail of footprints to where they sought refuge. We never found our fellow …

Puerto Varas, Rain Rain Go Away

We landed in Puerto Montt, found a taxi service in the luggage claims area and embarked for Puerto Varas. We had the van to ourselves due to a late arrival and pulled up to Hostel Margouya Patagonia after a 30 minute transit or so. We rang the bell and with a grand smile on his face, Pierre welcomed us in by name as though we were family he was expecting. He was very quick to check us in then lead us to our room put down our packs. He gave us a quick breakdown of what we needed to know at midnight about Puerto Varas, then released us. The beds in this hostel make it difficult to want to get up in the morning as we sank right in and become paralyzed with comfort and apathy, as though we ate fruit from the Lotus-eaters or attempted to cross the Deadly Poppy field of Oz. Cozy fire where we spent many rainy days. Saturday morning was upon us and we were told the fish market was …

Santiago, Chile: It Takes 2

Back in Santiago after a wonderful trip to Valpariso, we decided to stay in the Bella Artes district. Our high rise was just on the other side of the river from a Santa Isabel supermercado and just blocks away from the produce and meat markets. Santa Isabel was great to find inexpensive wine, dry goods and prepackaged chicken (super pollo) but everybody on our trip has concurred that they are the dirtiest of the supermarkets, Express de Lider much cleaner and Jumbo being the best, we have not been to a Jumbo yet.. Santa Isabel’s meat was very questionable, there was a grainy feel to a steak we cooked and I found a copper wire in one of my bites. We did find everything we needed here to make a memorable bow tie pasta, topped with a buttery, lemony, white wine capper sauce and succulent chicken breast (super pollo). I thought my steak from Santiago 1.0 was a flash of brilliance, but Bekah’s pasta dish transcended any culinary experience. Impressed with Tips for Tours, Valpariso, …

The Hills: Valparaiso, Chile

Valparaiso is rather simple to get to by bus. The red line metro stops directly under the Alameda station where Pullman and Turbus depart from about every 30 minutes or so. For a maximum of 720 Chilean Pesos per person, you take the red line to Universidad de Santiago. The metro does not charge extra to transfer to a different line, so getting around the city is pretty cheap. For 16,800 pesos Bekah and I purchased round trip tickets from Pullman. We got to the station at 11 and departed for Valparaiso at 11:25. The trip lasts about 90 minutes and passes several wineries along the way. Welcome to Valparaiso Pulling into Valparaiso, you will notice how visually eclectic the city is. If a structure is not protected by a fence, it is either covered in art or tagged up depending on who got to that wall first. We grabbed a cab and for 6000 CLP, we arrived at our cerro, Concepcion. This was definitely a tourist-centric hill as every other door appeared to be a restaurant …

Santiago, Chile Take 1

Unlike Arequipa, where we flew into and wondered what we got ourselves into (then fell in love), Santiago was love at first sight. It was by far the shortest length we waited in a customs line and the agents seemed very friendly. As we left the airport in our VIP van (about $10 per person, register and pay before you exit the airport) and made our way into the city, I was reminded of our trip to Colorado. In the distance stood snowcapped mountains, the air had a winter chill to it and there were proper highways. If I had a GPS device, we could have rented a car and driven in the city seamlessly. We were staying in Santiago Centro and picked the apartment for its proximity to metro lines and the grocery store across the street. View from our apartment. Enjoying a refreshing reminder of city life. Express de Lider is like a traditional grocery chain back in the States, except for one thing, the prices. We bought a .7 kilo steak (23 …

Lima, llama, travel

The Takeaway: Peru

To the untrained eye, Peru seems to be an extension of Ecuador, so much so that we questioned our arrival in Arequipa. With our exit weeks away, we were given the opportunity to focus and catch a glimpse of the essence of southern Peru. She will surprise you while remaining humble about it. Yes, several places will still serve you a thinly sliced piece of grilled meat on a bed of fried potatoes and a side of rice, but it is on you to find the places that won’t. She is more developed than Ecuador and knows just how to make a dollar off of you, but don’t let this deter you. Peru’s infrastructure allows you to feasibly traverse the country and explore the cultural and geographical diversity she has created. Some of our assessments may have been a little harsh, and perhaps unfair due to the fact that we questioned our ability to travel for a year in the middle of our visit, but Peru has a way of bouncing back. Scaling Huayna Picchu …

Lima, Peru’s Savior

We finally got to Lima after our 5 day bus debacle with Peru Hop. It was midnight and we needed a place to crash as we arrived one night earlier than scheduled. I booked a 6 person dorm at Pirwa as it received an 89% rating on hostelworld.com (I would have booked a private room, but they were going for 100 a night! The dorm was only 25). I suppose our check-in host was rather sleepy because the most basic mathematical functions became insurmountable even with her use of a calculator. Finally, she got through it and led us to our dorm. The moment she opened the door, we were slammed with the most terrible odor, as though our room was the final resting place for backpackers’ boots. Every bed was occupied with the exception of two top bunks located across the room from each other. We only had to put up with this bog of unusual stench for 6 hours or so, thus we shrugged our shoulders, accepted our situation and climbed up to …

Peru sea lions

Paracas: Peru on the Up and Up

After a short 2 hour bus ride from Huacachina, we arrived at the small coastal town of Paracas. Peru’s southern coastline is a meeting of the desert and Pacific Ocean that is not to be missed. Tony finally feeling better from his Tripe experience and a full 2 nights without a bus ride (!!) had us in great spirits. Our first morning was spent on a boat tour of the Ballestas Islands. Despite being one of a couple places sold as the “poor man’s Galapagos”, which I find rude and unappealing – this poor couple really enjoyed it. Like many coastal towns in South America, these tours are run by former fishermen and boats that could no longer compete with industrial fishing. This tour by far has the most to see. For a reasonable 50 soles (~$17) it is about 1.5 hours roundtrip to see these protected islands filled with birds, penguins and sea lions! There is also a view of “the Candelabra” said to be put there around 200 BC. Candelabra Penguins Kissing seals …

Huacachina: Peru on the Up and Up

Huacachina is an oasis town built in the middle of the desert. Dunes of sand surround this tourist city and one day is all you will need to experience all it has to offer. We stayed at Hostal Aranas which was a busy, yet quiet hostal. Her amenities included a grand dune in the backdrop, Wifi, a full restaurant/bar, pool, private rooms and dorms. For one night, it was a great place to stay. With our bags secured in their storage facility (locked and bound together by our own security measures) we headed out to sandboard the next day. We took the 4pm tour because it got us back to our Peru Hop bus that departed at 6:30 and allowed us to see the sunset over the lagoon. Strapped in with an over-the-head seat belt and metal bar to hold onto, we raced up and down dunes in a buggy; handing our lives over to a driver that jumped into the driver’s seat and took off with no introduction. Occasionally, he would stop to give …