Urban legends of San Pedro de Atacama

On the road to San Pedro de Atacama

The arrival in San Pedro de Atacama was a bit of a “déjà vu”. Which was not at all unpleasant. Somehow, this town reminded me of places in Central Asia. Happy times!

Within minutes I fell in love with this small town. Obviously very touristic, it still seems to have preserved in large parts the original local charm as a very relaxed and chilled spot. The many comfortable hostels and restaurants lure tourists to stay an extra day or two before or after their Bolivian border crossing trip.

Moreover, there are numerous attractions around San Pedro de Atacama, such as the Geysers of El Tatio, the salt plains of Atacama, the Moon Valley and the ruins of Tulor – to name just a very few of them. Spending a week here and doing every day a different excursion is a sensible planning for many tourists. Continue reading “Urban legends of San Pedro de Atacama”

Baywatching in Iquique

Iquique beach park

Iquique with a population of 200’000, is a beautiful coastal town in Northern Chile. In fact – according to the locals – the downtown Playa Cavancha is supposed to be the most beautiful beach in Chile.

Indeed, this sandy spot is scenic, with very long promenades, sunbathers and surfers. Arriving here is quite a scenic ride. Since the town is squeezed between the Pacific ocean and a 600m high mountain range, from where all roads arrive, there is a scenic view from the top of a winding road. This particular geographic setting also makes Iquique one of the Paragliders’ top spots in South America.

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Being in bad shape among the nuns in Arequipa

Arequipa Downtown

The plan for Arequipa was to visit the “Canyon Country”, which features the deepest canyons in the world. Located roughly 100km away from the city of Arequipa, the Cañon de Cotalinas is 3354m deep. Nearby Cañon de Colca is insignificantly “higher” at 3191m depth. Since my impending flight dates leave me with little time, I tried to book the canyon trip ahead – which failed.
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Drawing a line in Nazca

Nazca Lines, figure: Monkey

Nazca and its alien spaceport – called the Nazca lines – was a fun experience. Not that I honestly would believe in the alien theory. But there are so many explanations as to why these lines exist, that I just randomly picked one that I liked most. Being a series of geoglyphs, the creation of the lines is believed to have happened between 200 BC and 700 AD. The lines represent a lot of different individual figures, such as hummingbirds, monkeys, fish, spiders and more. Some of other lines are simple geometric figures. Continue reading “Drawing a line in Nazca”

Sniffing other people’s wet towels in Lima

Streets of Lima

After a four hour flight from Santiago de Chile, I arrived in the capital of Peru, Lima. This was a considerable change of culture. There is so much more of the good and the bad. More colors, churches and food variety. More traffic, pollution and crime.

As for the latter, local people avoid the city center after nightfall. At least, this is what some of the Peruvians I met, stressed to me. They genuinely seem to be concerned about the tourists safety and are very eager to share tips which areas to avoid at which times. As a visitor spending only little time in places, I never know whether I should trust such information or not.

Most of the time, I have the feeling that the scares are media-generated and some people seem to actually boast about their place being the “crime capital”. South-Americans seem to love the television documentary series, where camera crews follow police officers during patrols and other police activities. I can see these omnipresent shows anywhere in shops and restaurants. Sometimes, they are part of the regular news program. Continue reading “Sniffing other people’s wet towels in Lima”

Traveling ignorant through Mendoza

Moon over the Andes

Tataaaa! This is – according to this blog’s counter – my 100th posting. Can’t believe that I wrote so much in less than a year.

The journey from Salta to Mendoza was quite uneventful – except for the fact that I traveled on a first class bus.

The hostel in which I stayed was one of the places no one really writes home about. Neither bad nor good. But since a few people arrived there who were traveling the same route – on a regular bus – I knew quite a few of them. We visited downtown Mendoza and various beautiful parks around town.

Temperatures were absolutely breathtaking. Literally. The 40+ degrees Celsius were taking a toll on us backpackers and we crawled from shady ice cream stands to other shady ice cream stands. Continue reading “Traveling ignorant through Mendoza”

Fighting the water in Salta

View over the city of Salta

Arriving in Salta, coming from Resistencia, where I almost got stuck, because the quality of life was so great, rain was greeting my bus pulling into the city’s main terminal. Readers of this blog won’t be really surprised that I did not stay in Resistencia and moved on instead. Because there is still so much more to explore and discover on this great continent. But I might go back to Resistencia one day.

Salta is one of the key backpacker towns, where a lot of travelers choose to set base to explore the neighboring towns of San Salvador de Juyuny, Cafayate and Cachi. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t really on my side. Moreover, visiting most of these places would involve booking tours – which was beyond my budget. Therefore, the planned stay for a week in Salta, quickly washed away into a small two night stopover where I simply would visit the downtown area. Continue reading “Fighting the water in Salta”

Resistencia, part 1

Sunset over Gaucho Country

The town of Resistencia in Argentina was a nice treat after a long trip coming from Acunción, Paraguay. Located in the Chaco province, this city is known as “Ciudad de las Esculturas” (sculptures city). Founded in 1878, it is known since the 1960’s as open-air museum featuring more than 500 sculptures and murals around town. Moreover, since 1988, there are symposiums, in which artists from all over the world compete, after the competition their statues add to the rich diversity of culture – virtually at every street corner. The idea of this initiative was launched about 40 years ago by a local professor and theater activist, Aldo Boglietti, who had the idea to embellish the rapidly growing city with art works. Continue reading “Resistencia, part 1”

Checking out Nuestra Señora Santa María de la Asunción

Park downtown Asunción

Coming from Puerto Iguazù in Argentina, I did choose to cross Paraguay to go to the West of Argentina. This is by no means the shortest route, although it looks like being shorter on the map. The border crossings eat up valuable time and changing buses cannot compete – even with the best connections – with the direct services running from Puerto Iguazù to the West of Argentina. But hey, I get another immigration stamp in my passport. And since many tourists avoid traveling to Paraguay, it spurred my curiosity.
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