3 weeks: Santiago → Valparaiso → La Serena → San Pedro de Atacama → Iquique → Arica
01.10.2012 - 18.10.2012
It's a big city that doesn't really feel like it... it's super relaxed and friendly.
DO: the walk up to San Cristobal for the views of the city and mountainous backdrop. Food and handicraft markets! Enjoy a relaxing day in one of the many parks.
TO DO: Reflect on history at the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos and Parque por la Paz.
→ easy jump off point to Argentina (→ bus to Mendoza)
Valpo is a port city situated on what feels like a mountain. It would not be worth visiting if not for the incredible display of color that gives the otherwise not so attractive city a boost of life and character. So go! but be ready to walk up a whole bunch of stairs.
DO: Just explore! Take a break from the stairs and take advantage of the ascensores. Learn about poet Pablo Neruda who lived here. Take a day trip to the beach at Vina del Mar (make sure to check out the Reloj de Flores).
TO DO: Check out the world's largest pool at the San Alfonso del Mar resort.
I honestly don't remember anything that stood out about this stop... There was an option to do stargazing, but given our budget we opted out and moved on quickly.
san pedro de atacama
An absolute MUST!!!!!!!!!!! San Pedro itself is a small, incredibly friendly community that is basically in the middle of nowhere. It's just amazing. Go.
DO: There are a bunch of tours, so do your homework: see what you can do independently, and what is more worthwhile to do with a tour. We chose to rent bikes and explore Valle de la Luna on our own (pack a lunch and water, it gets HOT). We chose to do the Laguna Cejar tour, which included a trip to the lagoon (where the salt water allows you to float), Ojos del Salar (do the jump!), and chance to enjoy Lake Tebenquinche at sunset.
→ easy jump off point to Bolivia (connects with Salt Flat tours)
The photos don't do it justice - San Pedro seriously some of the most incredible landscapes!
iquique & arica
Both serve as unnecessary stops unless you have the time and desire to get to know them. A stop in Arica is more likely, as it is close to the Peruvian border.
PATAGONIA!!! And back to San Pedro
CALAMA is a shithole that you most likely will have to pass through in transit to/from San Pedro. No one would come here if not for catching a connecting bus. Be careful of your bags, don't take your eyes off them even for a second because thieves are waiting and ready for that exact moment. And the police are of little help.