posted 17 Mar 2013, 17:17 by Heather Wyatt   [ updated 17 Mar 2013, 17:19 by ]
Hello all! I hope things are well in Dore - I hear you've all had snow again? I hope the sunshine comes out soon!

We are 2 days away from finishing our South American adventure. Chile has been a wonderful country to finish on - some stunning and very diverse scenery to gaze upon.

We began in the south, visiting Torres Del Paine national park. The Torres are 3 pointy mountains made from granite, which we took a 4 day hike to reach. We were carrying our tent and sleeping bags, and all of the food for 4 days, along with clothing. The first day it rained and rained and rained - EVERYTHING got soaking wet, including the sleeping bags. It got so cold at night I was wearing about 7 layers of clothing, whilst trying to sleep in a damp tent. I also fell down a big bank of mud and covered myself from cheek to foot in mud. Suffice to say - Miss Atkinson was not very happy that night! 
The hiking was great after that - the sun came out and dried everything and we made it to the top of the trail, right next to the Torres. At first we couldn't see them because of the clouds, then it snowed on us heavily for about 30 minutes, but then the clouds parted and we had a beautiful view. A very rewarding trip!

From Torres del Paine we travelled by boat for 4 days, from Puerto Natales up to Puerto Montt - through the Chilean Fjords. From the boat we were able to see minky whales, sea-lions, penguins, dolphins and . . . orcas! We were so excited to see them in the wild, they swam right up to the boat.

Following the boat trip we visited Pucon, up in the Chilean lake district. It's a peaceful little town on the edge of a lake, with a beach (you can swim in the lake but it's freezing cold). Looming over the town is a huge volcano, puffing smoke and sulphur into the air. They have sirens that they test every day at 12pm and 12am. If they don't stop then you need to run out of the town along an evacuation route! Luckily the volcano isn't too active at the moment. 

After Pucon we traveled up to the capital, Santiago, and then on to the fantastic sea-side port of Valparaiso. The city is built on the hills, with lots of multi-coloured buildings. The port sits on re-claimed land, and is at risk of tsunamis (because Chile is sitting on very active tectonic plates - they have a lot of earthquakes here). We loved Valparaiso, and walked around the city for hours.

Finally, we decided to fly up and visit the Atacama desert. It sits in the north of Chile, and we stayed in a tiny little town called San Pedro de Atacama. From there you can do lots of day trips out to salt-flats, lagoons, lakes and geysers, as well as some beautiful desert scenes. The famous valley there is called Valle de la Luna - can you work out what its English name would be and why it might be called that? We also did a stargazing activity on our last night there. I've never seen so many stars - you could see the whole Milky-Way and so many constellations. We looked at Jupiter and Saturn through a telescope, and also a nebula called the 'Tarrantula Nebula'. I saw about 5 shooting-stars and was quite overwhelmed at how spectacular the sky is at night when you don't have light-pollution spoiling it.

So that brings us to now - our last two days in South America. We have traveled almost the entire length of the continent - all the way from Colombia in the north to Chile and Argentina in the south. It's taken us six and a half months to do it.
390 hours sitting on buses
222 hours sitting on boats
32 hours sitting on planes

Can you work out how many days that is in total?
Or how many minutes?

I'm very excited to begin a new adventure in New Zealand - and I'll keep you updated! Here are some pictures from our adventures in Chile. Hope you all enjoy the Easter holidays!