Tuesday, December 31, 2013

23 – 30 December 2013: Touring around Santiago

Thirteen hours in a bus is not fun, but we got to see the vast forests, Volcano Villarrca (usually smoking) and a few more Chilean towns along the way.  Getting back to Hostel Cienfeugos in Santiago we were happy to see that our bikes were still there untouched and our friends Rutger and Ellis were back from a few days out of town. 
Sunday we skyped home and built a few attachments onto our bikes, had a delicious braai and made plans for the upcoming adventure.  As we wanted to spend New Year’s Eve in Valparaiso we needed to kill a few days before heading down to the coast.  So the plan was to go east of Santiago along the Cajon de Maipu (valley of the Maipu river) and explore the Andes mountains and thermal springs.  After battling through the crazy Santiago traffic we landed up on a very windy road that passed a lot of camping sites and adventure activities (white water rafting, hiking, canopy tours etc). The tar road eventually became a well graded dirt track through to a small village Banos Morales, where there are hot springs.  We looked at the campsite, but eventually decided that camping in an open area just before the village would be much more comfortable.  To the east we had a snowy mountain and to the west a sunset through the valleys. It was beautiful, and when it was dark we were treated to amazing shooting stars…definitely the biggest one we have ever seen!!

packed and ready to hit the road

our first camp site

umm are we lost ??!!

crazy friends !!

amazing starry night 

burn baby burn burn !!

We packed up our campsite, put our gear into Rutger and Ellis’s car and started the trek to the laguna and glacier…only 8km away and about 3hrs hike….ummmm we walked for about 6hrs and then were told it was another 2.5hrs to the laguna!! Feeling defeated we walked down to the river nearby and chatted about what to do next.  There was a great open, flat area and a road leading to it so we figured we’ll bring our gear and camp there and then do the 2.5hrs walk to the laguna and Glacier the next day (Christmas Day).  Another incredible night under the stars…

dont see this back home 

we took the more challenging route !!

men hard at work !!

no this is not photoshopped this was our sunset hmmm !!!

As the hike was only meant to be 2.5hrs from where we camped, we had a leisurely start to the morning and started to hike at 12pm.  It was a tough hike climbing 1000m along a rocky and occasionally iced/snowy path.  We crossed clear rivers with delicious fresh water and after 4hrs reached the laguna and glacier where we shared Christmas cake and soaked up the sun.
a white christmass !!

snow angel !!

Finally reached the glacier !!

not loving life right here !!!

spot teeny !!!

Back at the campsite we decided to head to another part of the Andes via Santiago for more supplies and fuel.  We were so ecstatic to learn that we are actually getting 42km to a litre with a loaded bike! Amazing we can do approximately 500km on a full tank (12l)!!

Next stop was meant to be inside a national park called Yerba Loca (on curve 15), but the gates were closed so we camped in an area just outside the gate – luxury there was a tap!  

In the morning we climbed higher to 2300m to look at the ski town of Farellones, very quiet out of season and quite boring we headed in search for a camping spot for a lazy afternoon.

camp site for the lazy day !!
Time to head down to the coast through Santiago.  To avoid the expensive toll road we went through a more scenic route north of Santiago. The roadside stalls were great advertising miel (honey), acietunas (olives), queso (cheese) and other frutas (fruit) and verduras (vegetables).  Some more hairbend turns up and over through a nature reserve.  Next thing we knew we were in Valparaiso travelling along the Pacific!

the pacific ocean 

We didn’t want to stay in Valparaiso so we went up and over the hill – a VERY steep hill nearly being bowled over by a vicious Labrador to Laguna Verde.  The Copec book advertised a campsite and wanting to charge our electronics and have a hot shower we made our way along the 8km dirt road to the, unfortunately, very disappointing campsite.

Not wanting to stay there another night at the campsite we headed into Valparaiso to find accommodation for New Year’s Eve.  We had luck after luck in the city, first we found a good road into the city which took us straight to a parking area with a restaurant opposite with wifi.  We had a fish lunch and then went wandering from Hostel to hostel looking for somewhere to park our motorbikes and camp.  Feeling quite disappointed at how expensive it was we nearly decided to give up and make another plan….and then we entered Barrio Paraiso.  Francisco was so friendly and told us he had just had a cancellation of 10ppl! Excellent discounted price for the loft apartment right in the centre of it all!! Between the 2 main view points for the fireworks in Valparaiso …we couldn’t have got it any luckier!