Santiago – Chile 16/16

Le Meridien Hotel was the perfect place to relax after seeing the sights. Saxaphone and piano music with some wine and a buffet dinner in their Bar Latitude!
Wonderful historic building in Santiago like the Bolsa de Comercia.
The Mercado Central was designed by Gustave Eiffel.
History from 1998 at La Pica de Clinton! Lets stop in for a Cola.
We learn of all the ancient cultures and their art at Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino.
Another beautiful Beaux-Arts building housing the Museo Nacional de Belles Artes.
A Caballo by Fernando Botero! We have enjoyed our South American experience here in the capital of Chile.

Valle de la Muerte – Chile 15/16

Where are you taking us this time?
They call this Valle de la Muerte. Death Valley?
Well it is pretty hot but I will enjoy the red rocks and the sand dunes.
Really this was a misunderstood hearing of Marte (Mars). NASA has tested their Mars rovers here.
We just climb down this dune to the car! You see it down in the lower right…way down there. Another successful navigation….

Geisers de Tatio – Chile 14/16

We arrive at the Geisers del Tatio about an hour after sunrise. This geothermic basin is at 14,200 feet with geysers and fumeroles.
They are most impressive at day break as the coolness of the air shows off the 185°F steam as it condenses.
Our intrepid navigator drove us about 90 minutes in darkness with only the light of the full moon and then rising of the sun so we could be here early.
Interesting colors and reflections. It is the largest geyser field is the southern hemisphere and the third largest in the world. (Yellowstone is the largest, and there are many similarities)
The vicuñas are allowed in the water, since they can’t read Spanish. They are so busy eating the algae they don’t pay any attention to the photographers.
Isn’t this one just as cute as can be? The eyes are so big!
Outside the park we had a picnic lunch and this Zorro wanted to see if we had any for him. We did not share but were quite excited to see a Andean Fox!
About midway on the drive home we saw this site in the Valle Putana. Vicuñas fully immersed in the river.
Some other vicuñas are waiting on the hillside.
This vicuñas is getting left behind.
They safely crossed the road under our watchful eye.
They can join the other hundred or so we saw in the Valle Putana – a lush spot full of life.
The volcano Putana is reflected in a vegetation free area of the river.

Los Flamingos National Reserve – Chile 13/16

Llama Crossing! Stop the car!
Wow what a coat of fur. They must be so hot.
This lizard lives in the Salt flats – notice all the beautiful white crystals.
We are at Laguna Chaxos in the Salar de Atacama, the third largest salt lake in the world. This is one of the sectors of Los Flamencos National Reserve.
A long neck just like the llamas and vicuñas.
We enjoyed watching this one feed on the algae. There are three types of flamingos that nest here but some have left.
Another day we got this photo of a different species of flamingo – less black on the tail.
There are other flocks of birds also at Laguna Chaxos. Valle de la Luna shimmers in the back ground.
We enjoyed our private shady patio during our 5 nights at Peumayen Atacama Cabaña, just outside San Pedro. And a great 2 bedroom half of a duplex.
We watched the sunset on the volcano that dominates the town. Is that a cloud forming -hopefully!
The sun sets fast! We are here during equinox and at the Tropic of Capricorn…Great Timing.

Altiplano – Chile 12/16

We head up to the high plains of the AltiPlano, south of San Pedro de Atacama whose elevation is 7,900′.
We cross the Tropic of Capricorn!!! Latitude 23°26’16” South.
We are truly at the Fin de Mundo!  No Cell Phone Signal from here on…Officially off the grid…
We ambled the car past 13,000 feet to enjoy Laguna Miscanti (surface elevation: 4,140 m, 13,580 ft) and the view of the volcano, Cerro Miniques.
Beach loving Vicuñas, sunning themselves!
Guess the water is yummy…well there is water here.
Next view point is Laguna Miniques, 13,520′ elevation. Notice the intense blue color of the lake – pretty incredible.
And there it is: Monte Miniques at 19,390 ft high. Higher than Mt Everest base camp. It is actually several volcano peaks together.
Another vicuña enjoying the AltiPlano, in the shadow of Monte Miniques.
That grass looks like it might still have some nutrition.
A panorama of Salar de Talar, the Aguas Caliente south. A huge salt flat at 13,000 feet and the water is not hot (we asked).
It is also known for its red rocks as well as the contrasting colors. A salty white beach.
Looking back at our 19,390 foot peak.
We enjoyed the colors and the reflections. Fun to walk around and be in the cooler air – although the heat from the sun is pretty intense.
The final stop and our turn around point we enjoyed with some birds. Laguna Tuyajto is another salt lake at 13,000 feet that is close to the Argentina border. A very scenic day in the Altiplano.

San Pedro de Atacama – Chile 11/16

We have flown north to the Atacama Desert-the driest (non-polar) place on earth, and the oldest desert. It is between 2 mountain ranges that create a rain shadow and also the Humboldt Current plays a role in moving the moisture away.
This area is the archeological capital of Chile and has a long history of habitation. Aldeas Tular Ruins (the oldest archaeological site in Chile) might date back to 800 BCE – this early village had  about 200 inhabitants. About 10 family members lived in a connected circular rooms.
A connected home unit has been reconstructed with adobe and straw walls, wood beams in ceiling supported on a center post. Aldeas Tular Ruins shimmer in the desert heat!
We also explored these ancient Chug Chug Geoglyphs – huge carvings into the hillside. These could date back to 1,000 BCE but most are from around 500 AD. (near Calama)
The rock is carved away to leave these representations with some rocks added around the edges to define the shape. This area doesn’t receive wind or moisture so these have been fortunately preserved by the climate.
This preserved Tiwanaku Textile at Museo Gustavo Le Paige, from pre-columbian culture of around 500 AD, is finely woven with alpaca wool.  The thread is so very fine – such a talent for spinning. The intricate pattern of figures are winged  with the head leaned over, are in different colors.
Nearby is Pre-Columbian site of Pukara de Quitor. This stone fortress dates to around the 12th century.
The Pukara de Quitor was under Inca rule in 1536, when it withheld the Spanish conquistadors for over 20 years.
Incredible construction details at Pukara de Quitor. It is a National Monument.
And so the Spanish built this catholic church in San Pedro de Atacama. Pre 1641.
It is one of the oldest churches in Chile with a unique wood roof, lashed together with llama straps. It is also a National Monument.
Of course we had to wander the streets and find some local cuisine. Salad is half of an avocado with warm shrimp, topped with shredded cheese. The bean soup has spaghetti noodles and sausage. Both yummy! Followed by a main course of roasted chicken and potatoes. And a delicious desert. Time for a siesta!

Alerce Andino – Chile 10/16

We headed to the Parque Nacional Alerce Andino, a reserve of South America’s oldest living tree, a cypress possibly related to our giant sequoias.
Of course there are waterfalls! This is a rain forest after all.
Crossing a river on this swinging bridge on a hike to a secluded lake in Parque Nacional Alerce Andino.
The amazing boardwalk hike ended at Lago Sargazo – a beautiful pristine mountain lake.
The scientific name for Alerce is Fitzroya cupressoides, named in honor of the captain of  Charles Darwin’s ship, Robert FitzRoy – an avid scientist in his own right.
This Alerce is estimated to be over 3,000 years-old. Some are as old as 4,000 years, or more? This Smithsonian article talks about the oldest tree.
We returned to our Cabañas Vista Volcanes del Sur that overlooked Lago Llanquihue and Volcan Oscuro.
The owners gifted us this delicious torte – we ate the whole thing in the 2 nights we were there in their comfy cabaña!

Volcán Osorno – Chile 9/16

Early morning Volcán Osorno briefly reveals itself. Yes!!!!
Another evening at sunset we again watched the clouds play over Volcan Osorno.
Volcan Osorno – Fun!
We took this picture from the airplane a few weeks ago.
Also 11,380 ft Cerro Tronador in the distance, on the border with Argentina.
A hike on sendero Paso Desolación in volcanic sand, in the Parque National Vicente Perez Rosales, to get a birds eye view of Lago Todos los Santos.
Surrounded by the Andes Mountains.  A boat route across Lago Todos los Santos connects to Argentina.
We walked the black volcanic sand beach of Lago de los Santos.
Interesting flowering tree. Maybe a native Eucryphia?After the hike we stopped to enjoy the cascades on Rio Petrohue.
More volcanic rock worn smooth on the Rio Petrohue.
Carintia Cabins – the Volcán – is our home for 5 nights! We would highly recommend any one of these 4 modular river cabins.
The Grille master! BBQ Chicken Legs, then Pork Chops with some awesome Carménère wine.
Or Cerveza Austral Patagonia as we are on the northern start of the Carreterra Austral.
We enjoyed this view of Rio Petrohue from our cabin!
We drove up the volcano to see the view of Lago Llanquihue,
This is how the Volcán Osorno mostly appeared to us but we were very happy to have this view also from our cabin.