A Travellerspoint blog


La Serena and San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Sea, Bus and Dust!

sunny 21 °C
View South American Summer on BrookesSeb's travel map.

La Serena was a last minute decision as a stopping point before heading up to San Pedro, and a good decision it was. Not only did it break up the long bus ride, but turned out to be beautiful and backpacker friendly. Located like most towns along the pacific coast, its no doubt a tourist mecca in the summer time. Luckily, we didn`t have to deal with the crowds because of the winter season, and so enjoyed the beach pretty much all to ourselves. The first day we walked around town, visited the light house, had a homemade lunch on the beach, enjoying the sound of the waves and having a little snooze. It`s of course not warm enough to swim, or even wear a bathing suit for that matter, but it was relaxing nonetheless. We enjoyed dinner at an interesting little Italian restaurant (the only thing open for some reason), where the chef, Franco, made for interesting conversation.


The next day we rented bikes, and drove 8km along the seaside to the next town over, Coquimbo. A great way to get some exercise and stretch our legs before getting on the longest haul of the overnight buses so far. 17 hours would have us arrive in San Pedro, but not before a little stop in the small mining town of Calama. This was the only place we could catch the 1 bus ride to San Pedro. No doubt the drop off was again on the side of the road, but we were able to ask the locals and make our way to the actual bus station (or hut). We found it, and have since arrived safely in San Pedro.


San Pedro is the jump off point for the Atacama desert, along with the largest Salt flats in Chile. It`s also the gateway to Bolivia, and into the largest and highest salt flats in the world. We have seen amazing pictures and so are anxious to be on our way! We planned our tour to leave today, but unfortunately, without enough people we have been set back and so will now only leave tomorrow (Friday). But we`ve had a great time in San Pedro enjoying the many sights and tours in the area. On our first full day here, we rented bikes and drove the sandy road to Inca ruins. A hike up (and down), gave us beautiful views and an introduction to Inca architecture. That afternoon we`d booked a sandboarding tour, including the sunset at Valley de la Luna. Both were absolutely fantastic! Sandboarding was, well...sandy! ha Exhausting, but fun! And the sunset was gorgeous. We drove through death valley to hike up another sand dune, looking out over the glowing mountains and Lincancabur Volcano (located on the border of Chile and Bolivia, as well as Argentina to the right of it). That evening was followed by a yummy meal at a little whole in the wall recommended by a local. It was delicious, but best of all, romantic...well sort of. We had just finished dinner and all of a sudden, the power, in the whole town went out. Apparently a common phenomenon, so we enjoyed the rest of our beer lit with one wax candle. Luckily, most restaurants and businesses,including our hostel have generators so it wasn`t so bad. A few hours later, and the power was back on.


Today we relaxed, walked to the river, and tried to soak up the heat before we head off to 4500m above sea level! Yikes, we hope we can breathe!

Posted by BrookesSeb 16:56 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Santiago de Chile and Valparaiso

The show must go on...

sunny 20 °C
View South American Summer on BrookesSeb's travel map.

Chile has been entertaining...truly entertaining, and the star actors are Brookes and Sebastian!

First off, we made it! Yes, at 10am our bus left from Mendoza stating that we would be able to cross the border. After our 3rd time up the same road to the Gendamaria, we were halted again...WHAT? So our bus, 10`s of other buses, cars and transports were once again denied. So this time we waited, and waited, and waited. 4 hours later, they finally let the first car pass, and everyone else made a run for their cars and buses to get through and try to be first in line. About another hour of driving and we came to the aduana where we needed to get our passports stamped. With all the traffic however, it took almost another 3 hours! A very long, and frustrating day, but we finally made it across. The only thing was that the famous road on the chilean side, with its millions of steap and scary switchbacks was driven in the dark. Maybe a good thing, since we couldn`t see where we were going, but my stomach sure could feel it. Nonetheless, we made it into Santiago at around 9pm (about 7 hours later than expected), safe and sound.
If you look closely, you can see the bus driver sleeping through the window.

We stayed in the district ¨Barrio Brasil¨which is nice and close to the metro, the centre, and lots of shops and restaurants. It made our stay very easy and enjoyable. We did wake up the first morning however, to rain. Not too cold, but still wet. So we put on our best rain gear and ventured out to the Plaza Des Armas to check out a few Museums and the Cathedral. On our way there, we ran into a street performance....and this is where the story gets good. We hadn`t even been standing around for 2 seconds, when the performer, known as Freddy Loco spotted Sebastian and convinced us to move through the large crowd to the front where we could chat with him. That turned in to a full hour of street entertainment, with the 2 tourists as the main act. Poking fun at us, having us pose with him, act out scenes in a movie, and most shocking of all, having him kiss Sebastian. That`s right, you heard me, he and Sebastian..kissed!! I covered my eyes while the local Chileans went wild!! And Sebastian certainly proved that he is sure of his sexuality!! What an experience, but Freddy was kind enough to give us a copy of his show, featuring other fools like ourselves, as a souvenir. That was definitely a first time, and I wouldn`t mind if it was the last :) Makes for a good memory I guess.
So afterwards, we ran off hoping no one would follow us, or ask for our autographs. haha But we checked out some sights and headed back to the hostel to keep out of the rain. Hung out with some of the hostel and gang, and enjoyed another meal cooked by Sebastian.

The next day, we finally got some sun! Perfect, we headed directly to the Cerro St. Lucia to get the beautiful view of the city and the mountains! We then spent the afternoon walking around the city and landed at the Mercado Central (fish market) for a traditional seafood meal. Just like the locals, we ordered ¨Platas Tipicos¨ and enjoyed the live music and the stench of fish :) Later, we strolled through the Museo des Belles Artes, with lots of contemporary art and sculptures. And finally made our way back to the hostel, enjoying the bustle of rush hour and stopping at a few picturesque government buildings along the way. A great time in Santiago, a beautiful classical city that we enjoyed.

We´ve since arrived in Valparaiso, about 2 hours from Santiago and have been enjoying our first really warm weather. Valparaiso is a town of 300,000 located on 42 cerros (hills) around one, if not, the most important port in Chile. Each of the hills are covered in an array of colored houses spanning the seaside, using old `elevators¨ to reach their summits. Although pirate raides, and violent earthquakes destroyed many of the historical sights, the few churches and buildings still standing on Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepcion have been declared a UNESCO world heritage sight.

We`ve walked around the harbour, got a little boat tour (in Spanish) and a true close up of Sea Lions. Fantastic! Our evening was spent at Cerro Armarilla where a fabulous sunset over the whole city made it gleam like gold! We were hoping for some weather warm enough to beach it today, but didn`t get so lucky. The few clouds, kept us wandering around the city and enjoying more of the sights. We walked high in the hills to reach the house of Pablo Neruda, a famous Chilean poet and prominent political figure who built his home in Valparaiso. He was a Consul in many countries during the early 20th century and eventually became Ambassador in France in the 70`s before he died. His home has now been turned in to a beautiful museum, which embodies the whole of who he was. It is filled with auction collectables, paintings and beautiful stain glassed windows with magnificent views of the harbour. A Museum finally in English, that we really enjoyed. We then gallavanted towards the Museo a Cielo Abierto (Open air Museum), which is a variety of murals painted along buildings within the city. It sad to see that many of them have been ruined by grafiti, but still worth the walk. Back at the hostel, we`re hoping to hit up a cheap local eatery for dinner and fit in with the locals :) Tomorrow we`ll be heading to La Serena, making our way north to the Atacama desert! Can`t wait for it!

·Side Notes·
- The movies they play in the buses don`t seem to have any filtering. They other day they played ¨Death Race¨. lol

- Our arrival in Valapraiso merrited a local snack ¨Completo Italiano¨ which is a hotdog with tomatoes, guacamole, and mayonnaise. I thought it was great, Sebastian not so much. ha

- Our local dinner turned out to be one of the best decisions we`ve made. If anyone plans on coming to Chile, this is one place you don`t want to miss. JJ. Cruz is a hidden gem, tucked away in an alley. The atmopshere was great with local music, plastic table cloths and every inch of wall covered in some sort of tacky picture, wooden mask or figurine. But best of all, we ate the most delicious Chorillana. A tradtional dish, comparable to poutine, with french fries smothered in fried onions and egg, topped with spicy pork! it might not sound very appetizing but it was absolutely scrumptious! This is the South America I was looking for :)

  • You should be able to check out all of our pictures of Chile at the following link:


Posted by BrookesSeb 18:06 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

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