Friday, 27 September 2013


An overnight bus from Salta landed us in Mendoza in the morning and we headed to our hostel straight away. They let us check in and have breakfast!!! This is quite unheard of.......The breakfast they have is seriously the best we have encountered at a hostel so far. Crepes with dulche de leche, fruit, bread, pastries, hot drinks.......definitely a breakfast you can linger over. Also that have free wine in the evenings!! Best place ever!!

More sunshine and relaxing in Mendoza but one day we dedicated to a cycle tour of the wine region. This area is famous for Malbec. We decided to do everything independently becuase the organised tours were ridiculously expensive. So a bus trip and a visit to the bike rental place and we were on the road. It is not a lovely cyce amongst the vines though. More like a ride along dusty rural roads avoiding trucks. Loads of fun though and lots of delicious wine, which is maybe not a good combo with cycling and sunshine. We headed to some of the smaller wineries to avoid the winery tour that is often included in the hefty tasting price. We all know how wine is made so just give me a taste ok.....sheesh

We started at a brewery with lunch and beer and then hit four wineries spread around the region. It was a great day out and we both really enjoyed trying the wines.

So another chilled out stop but our bikes were calling and to be honest these places are expensive!! The food is so good and there is so much that you want to try everything. We bit the bullet and got on the bus back over the Andes to Santiago. This was a seriously slow process, with about 3 hours at the border. Still we arrived back eventually and were reunited with our bikes. Hurrah!!! It was great to back at Castillo Surfista Hostel, which is beginning to feel like home. Three days organising our stuff and we were back on the road again!!
In the beginning there was beer and empanadas....


San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

After the variety of landscapes in Bolivia it seems crazy that we could go to San Pedro in Chile and see different landscapes again!! We crossed the border into Chile and as the bus descended down to the desert the temperature increased (thankfully!!) and the landscape changed again. Dry rocks and cliffs carved by wind and water.

Firstly we were just glad to be out of Bolivia and the relief of walking around in the warmth and relative safety of Chile made us to very happy travellers. Unfortunately, with this slight in increase in comfort and safety came a hefty increase in the price of everything. Especially because San Pedro is essentially a tourist town. We found a nice place to stay, enjoyed a warm shower and then settled into the courtyard of the hostel for beer and chips in the sunshine. Glorious!!

While we were in town we thought we should do some touristy stuff, so after the bus to Salta, Argentina was delayed we decided to get bikes and head into the Valley of the Moon. It was amazing. Crazy coloured and shaped rocks and cliffs. It is salty, hot and dry!! It was nice to do some exercise after 3 days in a 4WD and also nice for the skin to get some sunshine after living in a down jacket for a long time.

We also did a night time astronomical tour out in the desert, which was amazing!!! The tour included a one hour explanation of everything you can see in the sky in the area and then we had free use of 12 telescopes that were set up to look at certain phenomena. The stars out in the desert are amazing and being able to see them and some planets through the telescopes was a first for me and a very cool experience. 

After a relaxing couple of days we hopped on the bus for Salta, Argentina. This was not part of our original plan but it seemed silly not to head over there because we were so close. There was also nothing in else in northern Chile that we wanted to look at before Santiago so we headed back to our bikes the long way around. In Salta we enjoyed more relaxing (seriously we are getting so slack), went for a few walks around town, enjoyed our first Argentinian BBQ at the hostel (this made Bruce VERY happy) and generally caught up on exciting things like laundry and banking wooooooo!!! Then onto Mendoza to sample the famous wine of the region.


So I promised my Mum ages ago that my next blog post would be some maps showing where we had been, so here they are!!!

Pretty crude I am afraid but you get the idea. I have included maps of Argentina and Chile even though I have not put the pictures up yet. They should follow rapidly though.

We are cycling at the moment so internet is a bit more tricky and it is also coming more scarce as we head further south......cycling photos soon too.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Uyuni Salt Flats and other crazy landscapes

It is kind of unfair how awesome the salt flats, volcanoes, crazy coloured lakes and hotpools on the southern corner of Bolivia are. It is unfair on all those people who have not been because man that place is cuuuuuurrraazzzy and totally awesome at the same time.

We were in one 4WD of a group of three from the same company. We were with two other couples who were really cool, which was lucky because pretty much all you do for three days is sit in a ute and get driven around. There are large distances to cover so there is only timet o get out, take some photos, have a little walk around and then carry on.

1. Salt flats - big, white, flat, go one forever and ever and ever and ever........
Everyone does the perspective photos and we did some too but seriously some people must have taken THOUSANDS of photos. Have some control people. I will tell you a secret though, sometimes I have to confiscate the camera off Bruce because he gets into a weird trace-like state and will not stop taking photos. But seriously we have so many photos that is was hard to sort them for this blog entry.

2. Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve.
This place is the amazing. Blue, green and red lakes, flamingos, volcanoes, hot springs, geysers, vast space and sexy rocks. I think Bruce is starting to realise that this holiday is just like a 5 month long geological fieldtrip. heheheheeh I am so cunning. It was hard to capture the huge expanse and crazy geology and scenery in the area with a little point and shoot camera but hopefully the photos help.

There are so many words to describe the area we went through but I am finding it hard to get them out of my head and onto a computer so everyone just has to go there ok. Also it is bit embarrassing going on and on about how outrageously cool something is, so I am just going to leave it to you to come up with some appropriate descriptive words.

Train graveyard 

There was no NZ flag in this bunch - not cool.
Lunch time on the salt flats
Token perspective photo.
Token cactus and Usain Bolt photo

Packing up the 4WD

Intrepid explorer

Red lake, seriously....

'What is it with the red lake?'
Geyser country
Seriously beautiful area and seriously cold too.

Everyone enjoying the hot springs.
Laguan Verde. But was actually white because of ice.
Last border crossing out of Bolivia

La Paz and the Journey South

So our run of 2 months of sunshine and lovely weather broke and it was when we had to cycle down 'death road'.

We started at the top in the sunshine but as we headed down the rain and fog came in and we got progressively wetter and colder. The ride starts at 4700m, which is cold enough already, and the first section is on paved road so that everyone can get used to the bikes. After a snack and an attempt to warm up in the bus we started on the famous 'death road'. To be honest I did not get the hype because the cloud was so thick that we could not even see over the cliffs we were riding above, it was just like looking into a void. It was still pretty fun though and as we made our way down it became warmer and the rain started to clear. Bruce had a a great time and was normally in the front group with the 'professionals'. By the time we got to the bottom at 1100m I was starving (no change there) and sick of wearing saturated clothes. Lunch and shower were included and then the long ride back to La Paz.

We had a flight for Sucre booked for the next day because we could not be bothered with the long bus ride. We turned up at the airport in the morning and sat and waited ALL day while it was delayed and delayed and then finally cancelled. So frustrating!! Apparently you cannot fly in the rain in Bolivia. We headed out and found a hotel close to the airport for our flight the next day. However, dum dum DUM!!! We awoke the next day to find it had snowed........noooooooooo!!!! Feeling optimistic we headed to the airport with a large stock of food in case of a long wait but the flight left only one hour late. Sooooo can fly in snow but not rain....interesting.

Sucre was great. A beautiful and relaxed town and we were so happy to be there after La Paz, which we both really disliked. It was nice and warm and all we did was wander around, drink beer and eat chocolate. Apparently Sucre is famous for its chocolate but we were rather unimpressed. Even Whittakers is better!! mmmmm I miss Whittakers [ present....cough]

From Sucre is was south to Potosi, where the famous Cerro Rico silver mines are. After wastching a movie about a boy who works in the mines and having much debate we decided not to visit them. Personally, I do not agree with making something like that into tourism. So instead we went to a hot pool - much better!! We went to the lagoon called The Eye of the Inca and had a lovely time eating our lunch, lazing in the water and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Much better then going down a dirty mine.

From Potosi is was south again to Uyuni and the famous salt flats.

Gosh what lovely weather!! But still smiling.

The sun is starting to come out.

Scenery on the raod to Potosi

View from the Eye of the Inca lagoon
Enjoying a warm soak and looking at the nice rocks.
Soaking and trying to look cool in his sunnies.
Hot pools make us smile.
It was blanket washing day out at the lagoon and families were picnicing while they waited for them to dry.