:: Chile Chapter 1: Copiapó - Pan de Azúcar, from volcano to penguin ::
The first part of our journey was the most adventurous: we rented a huge 4WD in Copiapó and just headed out to discover the desert. Along the way we slept at unexpected places, we saw mountains in all colours imaginable, we saw salt flats, lagunas, our first flamingos and vicuñas,... At one point we saw this perfectly shaped volcano lingering at the horizon, and two days later we stood on top of it, 5075m above the sea! One day later we saw pelicans, pinguins, sea otters, vultures,...
But the highlight of this part of Chile for me was the mindblowing first view of Laguna Verde near the Argentinian border. Check out for yourself just how blue(?) "Verde" can be!!!
:: Chile Chapter 2: Around San Pedro de Atacama and into Bolivia ::
For the second chapter of our Chile exploration we were based in San Pedro de Atacama. From here we took guided trips to the Valle de la Luna, the El Tatio geyser field, and a four-day trip into Bolivia. There we saw countless flamingo-filled lagunas in all colours, a fumarole-and-boiling-mud field, and of course the huge Salar (salt flats) de Uyuni. Just outside the village Uyuni, we visited the highly picturesque train cemetery. To conclude this part of our journey we climbed Chile's most active volcanoe: Volcán Lascar (5400m).
:: Chile Chapter 3: Lauca National Park and attack on Volcán Guallatire ::
In this last part of our travel there was an unfortunate reduction of our explorational activities, due to me getting sick. First we stayed longer in the hostel in Putre, then we moved to the 20-house village Parinacota at 4300m of altitude. There I was able to walk around a little bit, probably due to the great lunches and dinners served by the local cook Albertina. The next step was a walk along Lago Chungará, where countless birds swim in the reflection of one of the world's most perfect volcanoes: Volcán Parinacota (6330m).
The climax of our journey was planned to be the ascend of the 6060m high Volcán Guallatire. So we rented a guide to take on this difficult climb, and after a one-day delay due to an over-active Carabiniero (you need permission to climb!), we gave it our best. At one point it looked good and we believed we'd reach the summit, but then I just ran out of energy. We made it to a saddle at 5800m above sealevel, which was very dissapointing at first, but really my limit. So in retrospective I'm actually quite proud we made it that far!
:: Simply the Best: Highlights of northern Chile and Bolivia ::
It was an almost impossible task to master, but here I present you some personal favourite slices of my northern Chile and Bolivia explorations.
Enjoy, and please don't feel too shy to leave your comments!