ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “Chile

AFTERTHOUGHT – South America

Before the trip, we have read and heard so much about other travelers’ awful experiences in South America: pickpocket during street events, robbery under gunpoint in broad daylight, caught in gunfire between guerrilla fighters and the military, tricked by dishonest tour operators, frustration over bus and flight delays, bribery demands from border officials, nasty storms in Patagonia, high-altitude sickness on the Andes, travel disruptions caused by violent protests and civil strikes, etc.  However, except for a protest at the border crossing between Bolivia and Argentina, and a 28-hour flight delay in Ushuaia caused by a strike at the Buenos Aires airport, we can hardly recall any notable trouble or dodgy moment during our 3-month journey.  After a few days into the trip, we began to shed off many of our worries, and started to enjoy ourselves in this diverse continent.  We consider ourselves fortunate for meeting many kind people along the way, from honest taxi drivers, environmentally conscious tour guides, encouraging fellow trekkers, young fisherman showing us photos of his catches, skilful and responsible jeep driver, talented musicians on local buses, to a generous driver willing to take us along for an 1.5-hour free ride back to the city.

Many have asked us what was our favourite destination.  This is a question perhaps we can never answer.  There are simply too many lovely memories from almost every stop in our journey.  All these amazing experiences together have become an incredible episode in our lives.

For Argentina, we will always remember the joy of tasting the juicy steaks and irresistible helado (ice-cream) in Buenos Aires, coming face-to-face with the Iguazu Falls on San Martin Island, wine-tasting in the mountains of Cafayate in Northwest Argentina, listening to the rumbling roars of ice carving at Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia, upsetting our knees to get a close-up view of the majestic Fitz Roy Mountain near El Chalten, and sailing in the pristine water of the Beagle Channel in Ushuaia.
Argentina

For Brazil, we will never forget the moment we braved the thundering water at Devil’s Throat in Iguaçu National Park, the instant we spotted a magnificent jaguar in the distant bush at the Pantanal, the time we dwelled in the utopian dream of Modernist Brasilia, the evening we wandered aimlessly on the steep and winding streets of Ouro Preto, the hours we stood under the shadow of Christ the Redeemer to share the unbeatable view of marvellous Rio with hundreds of other tourists, the night we spent pacing the flooded cobblestone streets over the splendid reflections of colonial Paraty, and the day we hustled ourselves between cultural institutions and design exhibitions in the hectic metropolis of Sao Paulo.
Brazil

For Bolivia, we will forever cherish our experiences of hiking the Jurassic fern forest near Samaipata, admiring the white colonial architecture of Sucre from the rooftop of Convento de San Felipe Neri, absorbing the tragic history of Cerro Rico while acclimatizing to 4000m high altitude in Potosi, and confronting the Andean volcanoes, surreal deserts, and colour-changing lagoons on the Southwest Altiplano.
Bolivia

For Chile, the vibrant colours of its landscapes and cityscapes will live long in our heart, including the starry night and crimson sunset at the Atacama Desert, the vividly painted facades of the fairytale-like churches on Chiloe Island, the spring palette of wild orchids and glacial lakes in Torres del Paine, the black and white happy feet of Magellanic Penguins in Patagonia, the eye-popping display of some exotic catches-of-the-day at Mercade Central in Santiago, and finally the wonderful show of New Year’s fireworks in Valparaiso.
Chile
Many thanks to all the readers of the Blue Lapis Road.


DAY 87 (1 OF 1) – NEW YEAR’S FIREWORKS, VALPARAISO, CHILE

Tonight, about a million of locals and visitors gathered in Valparaiso and neighbouring Vina del Mar to watch the largest fireworks display in South America in celebration for the arrival of 2014.   Starting from late morning, people on Cerro Artilleria had already begun to claim their best ocean-facing spots for tonight’s fireworks.  They put chairs, benches, portable tables, and even ropes to mark their temporary territories on the sidewalk.  By midday, vendors at the port were busy cashing in people’s money by selling all sorts of celebration merchandise from party hats to colourful fluorescent bracelets.  Supermarkets were pushing the sales of sparkling wines at their entrances.  We got some groceries and returned to our B&B room to set up our tripods and “snack table” for the night. As night fell upon, myriads of lights were in place of the yellow sunlight illuminating the famous hills of Valparaiso.  But tonight, the starry skyline of the city was a mere backdrop for the most anticipated moment of the year.  Live music from the main square could be heard almost immediately when the sun was down.  Traffic got diverted. Boats kept going in and out of the port. Crowds of people gathered on the main streets, hillside lookouts, apartment balconies, and any public spaces where the sea could be seen.  Upbeat music, laser beams, amateur fireworks, illumination flares continued to lift up the atmosphere of the night.  As time approached, we looked at the time on our laptop and waited patiently by the window with our camera and wineglass in hand.  As the clock struck midnight, the magnificent fireworks display began shooting up high above the city.  We could deeply feel the shake every time the firework exploded in front of us, as if situating in the midst of an air raid. The display lasted for about 25 minutes.  Music was loud and every balconies and roof patios seemed occupied by partying crowds.  We retired to bed at around 4:30am, while our neighbours were still dancing on roof patios under disco lights.  They showed no sign of slowing down.   Valparaiso’s magnificent fireworks display did not only signify the closure of 2013 and the opening of 2014; to us, it also drew an extraordinary conclusion to our three-month journey in South America.  Tomorrow we would be on our way back to the frozen continent of North America.  Under the warm breeze of the Pacific, tonight’s Valparaiso was remarkably bright and beautiful. ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

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Read other posts on Santiago and Valparaiso in 2013 South America:

Day 83.1 – Mercado Central, Santiago
Day 83.2 – Museums & Cultural Centre, Santiago
Day 84.1 – Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda, Santiago
Day 84.2 – Arrival, Cerro Artilleria, Valparaiso
Day 85.1 – Ascensores, Valparaiso
Day 85.2 – Paella Lunch, Valparaiso
Day 85.3 – Cerros Alegre and Concepcion, Valparaiso
Day 86.1 – Hill of Colours, Valparaiso
Day 86.2 – Trolleybuses, Valparaiso
Day 86.3 – Casa Museo la Sebastiana, Valparaiso
Day 86.4 – Seafood, Valparaiso
Day 87 – New Year’s Fireworks, Valparaiso

The spectacular fireworks conclude our memorable journey to South America in 2013. Click here for the afterthought of our 87-day journey to South America.

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 86 (4 OF 4) – SEAFOOD, VALPARAISO, CHILE

A visit to Valparaiso would not be completed without having a seafood meal. We went to Marisqueria Los Portenos II for an authentic Chilean seafood meal, including boiled clam meat with chopped onions and parsley,crabmeat salad and caldillo de congrio.
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Read other posts on Santiago and Valparaiso in 2013 South America:

Day 83.1 – Mercado Central, Santiago
Day 83.2 – Museums & Cultural Centre, Santiago
Day 84.1 – Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda, Santiago
Day 84.2 – Arrival, Cerro Artilleria, Valparaiso
Day 85.1 – Ascensores, Valparaiso
Day 85.2 – Paella Lunch, Valparaiso
Day 85.3 – Cerros Alegre and Concepcion, Valparaiso
Day 86.1 – Hill of Colours, Valparaiso
Day 86.2 – Trolleybuses, Valparaiso
Day 86.3 – Casa Museo la Sebastiana, Valparaiso
Day 86.4 – Seafood, Valparaiso
Day 87 – New Year’s Fireworks, Valparaiso


DAY 86 (3 OF 4) – CASA MUSEO LA SEBASTIANA, VALPARAISO, CHILE

The Casa Museo la Sebastiana, the former residence of poet Pablo Neruda, is probably the most popular tourist sight in Valparaiso. Located on Cerro Bellavista, Neruda’s casa offers a fascinating birdeye view of Valparaiso Bay, making it an ideal spot to see the New Year’s Eve firework displays, according to the poet’s own words.

Visiting Casa Sebastiana is like entering the world of Neruda. Neruda loved collecting things. Over the years, he had incorporated his collection of furniture, housewares, antiques, artworks, maps, books, etc. into every corner of the house. Although small, each space in the casa expresses the strong personal taste of the poet, reflecting his sense of humour and his love of the sea.

“A child who does not play is not a child, but the man who does not play has lost forever the child who lived in him.” The living and dining room says it all. The space is richly decorated with paintings and playful toys, including an antique carousel horse brought back from Paris. A curvy fireplace designed by Neruda marks the centre of the space. Open to an unobstructed view of the city and the ocean, this playful space was where Neruda met his guests and friends. Inspired by sea navigation, the study room on the fourth level also reveals the strong character of the late poet. An antique map of the Americas dominates this space, where Neruda spent most of his working time at his study desk.

Unfortunately photography was not allowed inside the casa.  For a peek of the interior, check out their website at http://www.fundacionneruda.org/es/galeria-sebastiana
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Read other posts on Santiago and Valparaiso in 2013 South America:

Day 83.1 – Mercado Central, Santiago
Day 83.2 – Museums & Cultural Centre, Santiago
Day 84.1 – Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda, Santiago
Day 84.2 – Arrival, Cerro Artilleria, Valparaiso
Day 85.1 – Ascensores, Valparaiso
Day 85.2 – Paella Lunch, Valparaiso
Day 85.3 – Cerros Alegre and Concepcion, Valparaiso
Day 86.1 – Hill of Colours, Valparaiso
Day 86.2 – Trolleybuses, Valparaiso
Day 86.3 – Casa Museo la Sebastiana, Valparaiso
Day 86.4 – Seafood, Valparaiso
Day 87 – New Year’s Fireworks, Valparaiso

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 86 (2 of 4) – TROLLEYBUSES, VALPARAISO, CHILE

Taking the trolleybus in Valparaiso is like traveling back in time.  Many of these trolleybuses still running today belong to the original 1952 fleet, and have become the oldest servicing trolleybuses in the world.  Today, the trolleybuses only run in a loop circuit at the lower part of the city.
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Read other posts on Santiago and Valparaiso in 2013 South America:

Day 83.1 – Mercado Central, Santiago
Day 83.2 – Museums & Cultural Centre, Santiago
Day 84.1 – Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda, Santiago
Day 84.2 – Arrival, Cerro Artilleria, Valparaiso
Day 85.1 – Ascensores, Valparaiso
Day 85.2 – Paella Lunch, Valparaiso
Day 85.3 – Cerros Alegre and Concepcion, Valparaiso
Day 86.1 – Hill of Colours, Valparaiso
Day 86.2 – Trolleybuses, Valparaiso
Day 86.3 – Casa Museo la Sebastiana, Valparaiso
Day 86.4 – Seafood, Valparaiso
Day 87 – New Year’s Fireworks, Valparaiso

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 86 (1 OF 4) – HILL OF COLOURS, VALPARAISO, CHILE

It was always a pleasure when getting up in the morning and the first thing we saw were the colourful houses across from Cerro Artilleria.  We could see the broken windows, or the rusty metal roofs, or the occasional piles of rubbish and debris along quiet laneways.  But under the golden morning light, everything seemed forgivingly charming.
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Read other posts on Santiago and Valparaiso in 2013 South America:

Day 83.1 – Mercado Central, Santiago
Day 83.2 – Museums & Cultural Centre, Santiago
Day 84.1 – Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda, Santiago
Day 84.2 – Arrival, Cerro Artilleria, Valparaiso
Day 85.1 – Ascensores, Valparaiso
Day 85.2 – Paella Lunch, Valparaiso
Day 85.3 – Cerros Alegre and Concepcion, Valparaiso
Day 86.1 – Hill of Colours, Valparaiso
Day 86.2 – Trolleybuses, Valparaiso
Day 86.3 – Casa Museo la Sebastiana, Valparaiso
Day 86.4 – Seafood, Valparaiso
Day 87 – New Year’s Fireworks, Valparaiso

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 85 (3 OF 3) – CERROS ALEGRE AND CONCEPCION, VALPARAISO, CHILE

Many visitors consider getting lost in Cerros Alegre and Concepcion as the most interesting activity to do in Valparaiso.  Lined with colourful building façades, humorous street art, design boutiques and bohemian cafes, the labyrinth of lanes and small streets of these two hill neighbourhoods offer the most charming picture of the city.
After the pailla lunch, we wandered around these two small neighbourhoods, and dropped by Palacio Baburizza (now Museo de Bellas Artes).
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Read other posts on Santiago and Valparaiso in 2013 South America:

Day 83.1 – Mercado Central, Santiago
Day 83.2 – Museums & Cultural Centre, Santiago
Day 84.1 – Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda, Santiago
Day 84.2 – Arrival, Cerro Artilleria, Valparaiso
Day 85.1 – Ascensores, Valparaiso
Day 85.2 – Paella Lunch, Valparaiso
Day 85.3 – Cerros Alegre and Concepcion, Valparaiso
Day 86.1 – Hill of Colours, Valparaiso
Day 86.2 – Trolleybuses, Valparaiso
Day 86.3 – Casa Museo la Sebastiana, Valparaiso
Day 86.4 – Seafood, Valparaiso
Day 87 – New Year’s Fireworks, Valparaiso

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 85 (2 OF 3) – PAELLA LUNCH, VALPARAISO, CHILE

On the touristy Cerro Alegre, we were delighted to find some interesting cafes and restaurants housed in the colourful old timber mansions. In a restaurant at Paseo Dimalow, we had delicious ceviche and seafood paella for lunch.
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Read other posts on Santiago and Valparaiso in 2013 South America:

Day 83.1 – Mercado Central, Santiago
Day 83.2 – Museums & Cultural Centre, Santiago
Day 84.1 – Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda, Santiago
Day 84.2 – Arrival, Cerro Artilleria, Valparaiso
Day 85.1 – Ascensores, Valparaiso
Day 85.2 – Paella Lunch, Valparaiso
Day 85.3 – Cerros Alegre and Concepcion, Valparaiso
Day 86.1 – Hill of Colours, Valparaiso
Day 86.2 – Trolleybuses, Valparaiso
Day 86.3 – Casa Museo la Sebastiana, Valparaiso
Day 86.4 – Seafood, Valparaiso
Day 87 – New Year’s Fireworks, Valparaiso

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 85 (1 OF 3) – ASCENSORES, VALPARAISO, CHILE

Since 1883, ascensores (funiculars) have been a crucial transportation in Valparaiso to connect the hills with El Plan, the flat lower section of the city right by the sea. In its heyday, 26 ascensores ran up and down the steep hills of Valparaiso. Over the years, many ascensores retired from service. No matter in service or not, many ascensores have been declared Historical Monuments by the National Monuments Council. Today, less than a dozen are still in operation to provide convenience for its citizens and tourists. Taking ascensores to go up or down the hills of Valparaiso (which takes only a few minutes) has become an experience unique to this World Heritage city.
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Read other posts on Santiago and Valparaiso in 2013 South America:

Day 83.1 – Mercado Central, Santiago
Day 83.2 – Museums & Cultural Centre, Santiago
Day 84.1 – Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda, Santiago
Day 84.2 – Arrival, Cerro Artilleria, Valparaiso
Day 85.1 – Ascensores, Valparaiso
Day 85.2 – Paella Lunch, Valparaiso
Day 85.3 – Cerros Alegre and Concepcion, Valparaiso
Day 86.1 – Hill of Colours, Valparaiso
Day 86.2 – Trolleybuses, Valparaiso
Day 86.3 – Casa Museo la Sebastiana, Valparaiso
Day 86.4 – Seafood, Valparaiso
Day 87 – New Year’s Fireworks, Valparaiso

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 84 (2 OF 2) – ARRIVAL, CERRO ARTILLERIA, VALPARAISO, CHILE

Renowned for its colourful houses, busy port, antique funiculars, hilly landscape, and amphitheatre-like bay setting, mingled with a sense of melancholy expressed from the architecture dated to a bygone era of economic glory, Valparaiso has a unique character and distinct atmosphere found nowhere else in Chile. Before the opening of Panama Canal, Valparaiso was the most important port city along the Pacific coast of South America. In much of the 20th century, Valparaiso went through a gradual decline. Thanks to the rise of Chilean export and tourism, Valparaiso has been witnessing an economic comeback in recent years. Cruise ship tourists and independent travelers all contribute to the city’s revitalization, and the numbers have been rising especially after UNESCO declared Valparaiso as a World Heritage site in 2003.
From Santiago, we took one of the many afternoon buses to the port city of Valparaiso, where we would spend the last few days of our South American journey. We came for the festive air, and the famous New Year Eve’s firework display, which some said would attract one million visitors and turned the city into a huge party. Among the famous hills of Valparaiso, most visitors would prefer the more centrally located Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepcion. We opted to stay on Cerro Artilleria (Artillery Hill) instead for its strategic location, where we would be able to appreciate the fantastic overview of Valparaiso Bay from the window of our room.
Tourists come to Cerro Artilleria during the day to chill out at the lookouts or to visit the Naval Museum. By late afternoon, Cerro Artilleria returns to a tranquil state under the sun’s yellow glow. In the evening, houses turn the adjacent hills into a spectacular sea of lights.
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Read other posts on Santiago and Valparaiso in 2013 South America:

Day 83.1 – Mercado Central, Santiago
Day 83.2 – Museums & Cultural Centre, Santiago
Day 84.1 – Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda, Santiago
Day 84.2 – Arrival, Cerro Artilleria, Valparaiso
Day 85.1 – Ascensores, Valparaiso
Day 85.2 – Paella Lunch, Valparaiso
Day 85.3 – Cerros Alegre and Concepcion, Valparaiso
Day 86.1 – Hill of Colours, Valparaiso
Day 86.2 – Trolleybuses, Valparaiso
Day 86.3 – Casa Museo la Sebastiana, Valparaiso
Day 86.4 – Seafood, Valparaiso
Day 87 – New Year’s Fireworks, Valparaiso

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 84 (1 OF 2) – CENTRO CULTURAL PALACIO LA MONEDA, SANTIAGO, CHILE

Plaza de la Ciudadania is situated right in front of Palacio de la Moneda, the neoclassical building housing the Chilean presidential office.  Under the plaza there lies Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda, a new underground cultural complex consisted of theatres, exhibition spaces and shops.
Before we left Santiago for Valparaiso, we spent the morning visiting the cultural complex.  The ramps in the atrium that connected all floors were pretty interesting.  Natural light lit up the entire atrium through the glass roof cladding that belongs to the floor finish of the plaza above.
At 2pm, we arrived at one of the main bus terminals in the city for transportation to Valparaiso.  In two hours we would finally arrive in Valparaiso, the very last stop of our journey!
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Read other posts on Santiago and Valparaiso in 2013 South America:

Day 83.1 – Mercado Central, Santiago
Day 83.2 – Museums & Cultural Centre, Santiago
Day 84.1 – Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda, Santiago
Day 84.2 – Arrival, Cerro Artilleria, Valparaiso
Day 85.1 – Ascensores, Valparaiso
Day 85.2 – Paella Lunch, Valparaiso
Day 85.3 – Cerros Alegre and Concepcion, Valparaiso
Day 86.1 – Hill of Colours, Valparaiso
Day 86.2 – Trolleybuses, Valparaiso
Day 86.3 – Casa Museo la Sebastiana, Valparaiso
Day 86.4 – Seafood, Valparaiso
Day 87 – New Year’s Fireworks, Valparaiso

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 83 (2 OF 2) – MUSEUMS & CULTURAL CENTRE, SANTIAGO, CHILE

Other than the central market, we spent the entire day hopping around the city centre to visit various cultural institutions.  Our first destination was Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Museum of Memory and Human Rights).  Built as one of the Bicentennial projects in 2010, the museum is dedicated to “raise awareness of the human rights violations committed by the State of Chile between 1973 to 1990, to dignify the victims and their families, and to raise discussion and awareness on the importance of respect and tolerance, so that these events would never happen again.”  The visit to this museum provided us general knowledge on Chile’s modern history from the coup in 1973 to the fall of Pinochet in 1990.  We liked the interactive memorial wall at the central atrium where we could use an interactive device to select one of the hundreds of photographs of political victims on the wall to know more about each individual.
Next we went to the Bellas Artes area to see the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo and Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.  At Contemporaneo, we were delighted to see a show of Georges Rousse’s work.  There was an interesting installation of his “spatial painting” of a white star at the central hall.  Adjacent to Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, we visited Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes to have a quick view of Chilean art in the last 200 years.
Before dinner, we dropped by Centro Gabriela Mistral (GAM), a newly built cultural centre in Barrio Lastarria.  We wandered around the complex to check out its outdoor plazas, exhibition spaces, bookstore, café, restaurant, wine shop, etc.
Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (4 photos below)ImageImageImageImage
Georges Rousse’s installation in Museo de Arte Contemporaneo (2 photos below)ImageImage
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (1 photo below)Image
Centro Gabriela Mistral (5 photos below)
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Read other posts on Santiago and Valparaiso in 2013 South America:

Day 83.1 – Mercado Central, Santiago
Day 83.2 – Museums & Cultural Centre, Santiago
Day 84.1 – Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda, Santiago
Day 84.2 – Arrival, Cerro Artilleria, Valparaiso
Day 85.1 – Ascensores, Valparaiso
Day 85.2 – Paella Lunch, Valparaiso
Day 85.3 – Cerros Alegre and Concepcion, Valparaiso
Day 86.1 – Hill of Colours, Valparaiso
Day 86.2 – Trolleybuses, Valparaiso
Day 86.3 – Casa Museo la Sebastiana, Valparaiso
Day 86.4 – Seafood, Valparaiso
Day 87 – New Year’s Fireworks, Valparaiso

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 83 (1 OF 2) – MERCADO CENTRAL, SANTIAGO, CHILE

The Mercado Central in the Chilean capital is a world-famous fish market.  It was Sunday early afternoon when we visited the bustling market.  The time was a little late for buying seafood from fishmongers.  Most visitors were actually coming for a seafood lunch.  Avoiding the more touristy restaurants in the middle of the market, we sat down at one of the few tables in a small stall at the edge of the market for lunch.  We ordered erizo (sea urchin), a seafood soup, and a special seafood stew.  Price was fair, and quality was decent.  Some came specifically for king crabs, which were displayed at almost all restaurants in the market.
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Previous Destination – El Calafate Isla Magdalena, reading from post Day 79.2

Read other posts on Santiago and Valparaiso in 2013 South America:
Day 83.1 – Mercado Central, Santiago
Day 83.2 – Museums & Cultural Centre, Santiago
Day 84.1 – Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda, Santiago
Day 84.2 – Arrival, Cerro Artilleria, Valparaiso
Day 85.1 – Ascensores, Valparaiso
Day 85.2 – Paella Lunch, Valparaiso
Day 85.3 – Cerros Alegre and Concepcion, Valparaiso
Day 86.1 – Hill of Colours, Valparaiso
Day 86.2 – Trolleybuses, Valparaiso
Day 86.3 – Casa Museo la Sebastiana, Valparaiso
Day 86.4 – Seafood, Valparaiso
Day 87 – New Year’s Fireworks, Valparaiso

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 82 (1 OF 1) – PENGUINS AGAIN, ISLA MAGDALENA, PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE

Before our evening flight to Santiago, we took an 8am ferry to Isla Magdalena in Magellan Strait to see the Magellanic penguins.  Isla Magdalena is a much bigger island compared to Isla Martillo where we first saw the penguins near Ushuaia.  According to the guidebook, the Monumento Natural los Pinguinos on Isla Magdalena has approximately 60,000 pairs of breeding pairs.  The ferry ride took about 1 hour and 45 minutes.  During the ride, we could see sea birds, a sea lion, and many groups of penguins in the water.  As the ferry docked at the beach of Magdalena, groups of curious penguins were only metres away.  We got roughly an hour on the island.  Everyone had to stay within a marked path leading to a lighthouse at the highest point of the island.  Perhaps there were too many tourists on Magdalena and too much camera clicking sounds, this penguin encounter didn’t feel as intimate as last time on Isla Martillo.  Though this time we were lucky enough to see dolphins from the island.
On our return, the sea was calm with shades of blue and grey, like a watercolour painting.  We stood on the lower deck and quietly watched the sea and thick clouds moving over the horizon.  At 1pm we arrived back to the mainland.That’s it for us from Patagonia. We have so much fond memories of Patagonia in the last few weeks.  We will certainly miss this beautiful land.  We know we will come back one day.
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Read more on El Calafate & Isla Magdalena in 2013 South America
Day 79.2 – Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate
Day 80.1 – Icebergs, Lago Argentina
Day 80.2 – Glaciers, Lago Argentina
Day 80.3 – Glaciarium, El Calafate
Day 81 – El Calafate to Punta Arenas
Day 82 – Penguins Again, Isla Magdalena, Punta Arenas

Next Destinations – Santiago & Valparaiso
Continuing on our journey from post Day 83.1

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 81 (1 OF 1) – EL CALAFATE (ARGENTINA) TO PUNTA ARENAS (CHILE)

At 5:30am, a prearranged bus came to pick us up at Lautaro Guesthouse. The departure from El Calafate concluded our visit to Argentina. From El Calafate, the bus took us to the Chilean border. At about 2pm we were back at Puerto Natales, where we spent our first night in Patagonia three weeks ago. This time, we came just for a bus transfer to Punta Arenas. We arrived at Punta Arenas at around 6pm. Tomorrow, we would take a evening flight to Santiago.
Bagged breakfast prepared by our guesthouse, Lautaro (2 photos below)
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Dawn (1 photo below)
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Christmas decoration at border control (1 photo below)Image
Bus terminal at Puerto Natales (1 photo below)Image
Approaching Punta Arenas (1 photo below)
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Read more on El Calafate & Isla Magdalena in 2013 South America
Day 79.2 – Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate
Day 80.1 – Icebergs, Lago Argentina
Day 80.2 – Glaciers, Lago Argentina
Day 80.3 – Glaciarium, El Calafate
Day 81 – El Calafate to Punta Arenas
Day 82 – Penguins Again, Isla Magdalena, Punta Arenas

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 69 (1 OF 3) – MAGELLAN STRAIGHT

Today, we left Patagonia (would return in a few days) and headed south to the Island of Tierra del Fuego.  In the next few days we would be staying in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world after Puerto Williams of Chile (a smaller town at the opposite site of Beagle Channel).  It was a unique experience crossing the Magellan Strait, the famous channel that separates Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.  During the 20-minute crossing, we had to get out of the bus and stayed in the passenger lounge of the ferry.  Our eyes were glued to the windows in the passenger lounge in hope of spotting  marine wildlife.  Happily, we saw a group of dolphins jumping out of the waves three times.

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Previous Destination – Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, reading from post Day 62.1

Read more on Ushuaia in 2013 South America
Day 69.1 – Magellan Straight
Day 69.2 – Arrival, Ushuaia
Day 69.3 – Fuegian Grill, Ushuaia
Day 70.1 – Museo Maritimo, Ushuaia
Day 70.2 – Chiko Restaurant, Ushuaia
Day 70.3 – Beagle Channel & Isla H
Day 70.4 – Kalma Resto, Ushuaia
Day 71.1 – Pier, Ushuaia
Day 71.2 – Fuegian Trees, near Estancia Harberton
Day 71.3 – Penguins, Martillo Island
Day 71.4 – Estancia Harberton
Day 71.5 – Kaupe Restaurant, Ushuaia
Day 72.1 – Post Office, Isla Redonda, Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego
Day 72.2 – Senda Costera & Bahia Lapataia, Parque Nacional Tierra Del Fuego
Day 73 – Stranded in Ushuaia Airport

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 68 (2 OF 2) – LA MARMITA, PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE

At La Marmita, we had our first trial of king crab in Patagonia.

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Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

Next Destination – Ushuaia
Continuing on our journey from post Day 69.1

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 68 (1 OF 2) – SQUARE, MUSEUM & CEMETERY, PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE

After experiencing the windstorms and unpredictable weather of Torres del Paine, we became interested to know how the first pioneers settled and then flourished in Southern Patagonia. In fact, Patagonia has become one of the most prosperous regions in Chile, thanks to fisheries, petroleum development and commerce. A 3-hour bus ride from Puerto Natales took us to Punta Arenas, the capital of the Magallanes Region.
Old mansions from late 19th century dotted along the main streets in Downtown Punta Arenas. While some seemed well maintained and had been transformed into modern use, many more looked as if they had been vacant for years. At Plaza Munoz Gamero, a statue commemorating the voyage of Magellan stood at the very heart of the city’s main square. Just steps away from the plaza, we arrived at Museo Regional Braun-Menendez, the former mansion of the Braun-Menendez family, one of the most powerful pioneer sheep farmers from over a century ago. After introduction of 300 sheep from Falkland Islands in late 19th century, sheep farming had become the most crucial industry in Southern Patagonia. The Museo Regional Braun-Menendez is divided into three parts: a section of the former residence of the Braun-Menendez family, an exhibitition on the history of exploration and Punta Arenas, and a temporary exhibition of artwork on loan from somewhere else.
Before dinner, we walked to the Cementerio Municipal, where grand mausoleums of wealthy pioneers and graves of the common citizens mingled. It was interesting to see the various cultural origins of the first inhabitants of Punta Arenas, including English, Irish, Croatians, French, German, Spanish, etc.
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Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 67 (3 OF 3) – ASADO DE CORDERO, PUERTO NATALAS, CHILE

After 2 hours of bus ride, we arrived at the bus terminal of Puento Natalas. We checked in at the same hostel and shared our W-trek experience with our hosts. That evening, we went to a local restaurant for a feast of Patagonian roasted lamb with refreshing beers to celebrate our completion of the W-trek.

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Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 67 (2 OF 3) – DESCEND, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

This was definitely the worse day of our visit in the park. The furious wind and heavy rain didn’t show a sign of stopping anytime soon. We left Refugio Chileno at 10:30am. We were cold and exhausted, and were glad that this would be our final descend back to the park entrance. On the cliff side trail near Chileno, the wind was so strong that most hikers, including us, had to stop advancing and keep ourselves from falling off the cliff by holding tightly on any fixed objects we could find, big rocks or strong branches and waited for the wind to pass. God knows how long we had waited but at some point when one hiker started moving again, we all stood up one by one, balanced ourselves and continued walking again. The wind got weaker after several turns down the hill, but we had no intention to take any break until reaching our final destination, Hosteria las Torres, where shuttle buses would take hikers for the final 7.5km to Laguna Amarga, the main park entrance where all buses to Puerto Natales would depart. Our clothes were soaked by our own sweat when we arrived at Hosteria las Torres. Good that our GORTEX gears worked well to keep us dry from the rain. There was almost 3 hours of waiting before the shuttle bus departed at 2pm. We decided to sit down at the hotel bar restaurant and treated ourselves with a delicious and meaty Patagonian pizza and soft drinks. At the hotel, we saw hikers, including some familiar faces, arriving one by one. Some unfortunately came down with bruises, cuts, and broken ankle, requiring assistance from their travel-mate when walking. Although we didn’t see the orange sunrise at la Torres, we were both happy for our trekking experiences, and glad that we survived the mighty Patagonian wind. The beauty of Torres del Paine is not only about mountain glaciers and turquoise lakes, but also the power of survival of all living things under all kinds of hostile circumstances of mother nature, from the tiny orchids that withstand the giant winds, to all the trekkers that brave the unpredictable weather for a dose of the pristine Patagonian experience.

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Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 67 (1 OF 3) – LAS TORRES, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

We woke up at 2:45am, and could hear the sounds of drizzle and strong wind outside. Electricity was cut since midnight and we had to get ourselves prepared in the dark with our headlamp and flashlight discreetly without disturbing other hikers. After a “flash-light” breakfast, we put on our winter hats, gloves and jackets, had our hiking poles in hand, and packed our cameras and tripod in the backpack. Leaving the rest of the luggage at a locker, we left the refugio at 3:30am to embark on the final section of our W-trek up to Mirador (lookout) las Torres. The iconic granite towers of las Torres (Torres del Paine) are the symbol of the park, and hence the national park is named after them.
The past few days of hiking got us familiar with the trail conditions and signage, so even in the dark we could easily spot the right path in the woods, and cross the right streams without hesitation. Walking in the dark with only meters of visibility from our headlamp gave us a unique feeling: we were more focused on the trail while hearing became more sensitive than usual. Our eyes quickly got used to the dark only after minutes of hiking. The sky gradually brightened up at around 4:30am. At 5:00 when we reached the campsite closest to las Torres, we no longer needed our headlamps. The “Mirador” sign pointed towards a boulder path uphill. For the next hour or so, it would be the most difficult session of the W-trek. The sky was dull and our faces were cold. The rising sun beyond moving clouds formed a strip of orange glow along the horizon outside the valley. We both hoped that by the time we reached the top, there would be sunbreak to cast an orange glow on the famous granite towers. The chance was slim, but we didn’t lose our hope. Walking against the strong wind and rain on boulders for about 45 minutes, we could finally see the rock towers of las Torres and the glacier lake. After 4 days on the W-trek, we finally reached Mirador la Torres, our final destination. No magic moment, no orange glow on the peaks, but at least the towers were visible despite the mist. At the lookout, there were about 30 people scattered on the rocks. Some were sitting inside their sleeping bags while some were posting for photos in the wind. We set up our tripod and made a short timelapse.
After about 15 minutes, the weather got worse, rain had turned into snow and we could no longer see the towers. The wind had picked up its speed and we all had trouble keeping balance. One by one we found our way back down the boulder path carefully. On our way down, we encountered a few more people willing to brave the weather for the mirador. We were delighted of reaching Refugio Chileno safely at about 9:30am. We rested a bit, dried ourselves, and had a cup of warm water and a sandwich at the dining hall while watching all other people preparing rain gears and backpacks for their departure. At 10:30am, it was our turn to leave the refugio with all our belongings safely wrapped in rain covers.
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Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 66 (2 OF 2) – REFUGIO CHILENO, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

After 3 hours hiking on gentle terrains along Lago Nordenskjold, we finally reached Valle Ascencio where a relatively steeper ascend up to Refugio Chileno was about to begin. The cliff-side trail winding up the valley was narrow and rocky. Rio Ascencio was rumbling down the hill on our right. Angela was quietly hoping for a dry day tomorrow for us to safely descend down to Hosteria las Torres on this very same path. 10 minutes before we arrived at Chileno, we finally saw a small mountain lodge across the river. We crossed Rio Ascencio via a wooden bridge and were glad to arrive at Refugio Chileno in mid afternoon. Located at midpoint between Hosteria las Torres and the Mirador las Torres, Refugio Chileno is a good base to explore the granite towers of las Torres. In front of the refugio, we could see clearly the magnificent rock towers of las Torres at the far left. We were planning to make the final ascend tomorrow before dawn to see the sunrise at las Torres. All we needed was fine weather. Inside Chileno, the small dining hall was packed with hikers. The refugio was fully booked. In each dorm room, 8 bunk beds that at times stacked 3 high were tightly placed against the wall. Outside the window, the ever-present Patagonian wind shook everything in its path, from tree branches to the glass and metal panels of the refugio. After dinner, we arranged a 3am breakfast with the refugio, and quietly went to bed to get some sleep. Of course, it was difficult to fall asleep at this early hour (9pm), but we got to try.

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Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 66 (1 OF 2) – CUERNOS TO VALLE ASCENCIO, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

There were strong winds and scattered showers throughout the night. By morning, the rain stopped. From the porch of our cabin at Cuernos, we could see a rainbow stretched over the turquoise water of Lago Nordenskjold. After breakfast, we were all set to go for today’s journey to Refugio Chileno. Walking due east until we hit Valle Ascencio and then north up the valley to the refugio, the hike would take about 6 hours. It was a fine day if not the persistently strong wind. We were glad to have our hiking poles to keep our balance at windy spots and during stream crossing at several occasions. After hiking for 3 hours along Lago Nordenskjold, we turned to the shortcut for Chileno that would save us an hour. Another hour and a half took us to the trail at Valle Ascencio, where many dayhikers were rushing up and down Mirador las Torres.

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Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 65 (3 OF 3) – ITALIANO TO REFUGIO CUERNOS, TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE

The 2-hour hike from Camping Italiano to Cuernos was not as easy as we thought, as we were already tired from the hike in Valles Frances.  Nonetheless, we took our time and carefully hiked the remaining 2 hours without any slips in the strong wind.  When we finally saw Refugio Cuernos from a distance, we were so relieved that we were about to finish the longest day of our W-trek experience.
At Cuernos, We loved our mountain cabin.  Inside the cabin, we could see Cuernos del Paine from the skylight; and at the front porch, we had a good view of Lago Nordenskjold and the snow-capped mountains beyond.  The only downside was the distance that we had to walk to and from the refugio for meals and showers.  In the evening, the notorious wind started to pick up again.  The cabin was continuously shaken as if in a hurricane or typhoon.  The door of our cabin kept on banged open by the wind.  We had no choice but to place a few fire logs to block the door throughout the entire night.
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Read more on Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in 2013 South America:
Day 62.1 – Introduction
Day 62.2 – Mirador Cuernos, Torres del Paine
Day 62.3 – Camping Pehoe, Torres del Paine
Day 63.1 – Pudeto, Torres del Paine
Day 63.2 – Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 63.3 – Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine
Day 64.1 – Glacier Grey to Paine Grande
Day 64.2 – Mirador Pehoe
Day 64.3 – Palette of Spring
Day 64.4 – Refugio Paine Grande
Day 65.1 – Paine Grande to Camping Italiano
Day 65.2 – Valle Fances
Day 65.3 – Camping Italiano to Refugio Cuernos
Day 66.1 – Refugio Cuernos to Valle Acencio
Day 66.2 – Refugio Chileno
Day 67.1 – Las Torres
Day 67.2 – Descend
Day 67.3 – Asado de Cordero, Puerto Natalas
Day 68.1 – Punta Arenas
Day 68.2 – La Marmita, Punta Arenas

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought