A Travellerspoint blog

Cordoba...a normal city in Argentina

overcast 20 °C

Not too much to say about Cordoba really. Its a normal city famous for good nightlife, but its on the backpacking route, so we thought we should check it out. Its not really a city famous for attractions or other sights, though we ended up going to a pretty cool exhibition of human bodies. We also went on a exursion to a nearby village mainly famous because Che Guvarra grew up there. Pretty interesting to visit his old house which had been transformed into a museum. When they opened the museum a few years ago, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavaz dropped by to see how their late friend grew up.

Otherwise we were mainly drifting around the city or chilling out in our nice hostel. The hostel was actually one of the better thing about Cordoba. Most hostals are quite expensive here for some reason. However we ran into a friendly guy at the bus station who had just opened a hostal. It was a really new and nice, cheap too as they were struggling getting guests. We got a 7 bed dorm room for ourselves and actually we had the whole hostel for ourselves two nights...the staff even gave us a key and left us to ourselves.

Oh yeah, we ended up renting one of those peddling boats that you can find in the parks. We have never done it in our life and we thought that this was a good time to try it without risking being seen by anyone we know. Actually quite fun. Laura went crazy, as usual with ducks around, and we ended chasing ducks around for 30 min. Quite a few of the families trying to feed the ducks were giving us some nasty looks, still we were in a boat and they were not.

Some big church

Some big church

Henrik's motorcycle diary

Henrik's motorcycle diary

Posted by hmontonen 15:43 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Salta y sus alrededores

overcast 15 °C

Habiendo llegado a un lugar tan hermoso como es el salar de Uyuni, uno piensa que los lugares que visite en el futuro mas cercano no seran tan espectaculares, tan fascinantes...
Sin duda Uyuni fue inigualable, no solo por el lugar sino tambien por la gente con quien hicimos este viaje. Quizas por eso mismo fue un placer repetir con dos de ellos...avec le charm de la France (con los franceses, para entendernos).

Salir de Uyuni para cruzar la frontera a Argentina nos daba dos opciones: experimentar por primera vez un viaje por las vias ferreas o coger un bus (el medio de transporte mas habitual en este trozo de continente). Finalmente, tomar un tren nos obligaba a tener que permanecer un par de noches mas en Uyuni asi que no quedaba mas opcion que buscar la compania de bus mas decente en la Ciudad de Uyuni. Habiendo visto la recepcion de la compania que escogimos, y aunque deseabamos que asi no fuese, intuiamos que el viaje no iba a ser precisamente de primera clase.
Lo resumiria en que no pegamos ojo ni siquera veinte minutos seguidos...
Segun la mujer que nos vendio el pasaje, los cuatro sitios de la parte de delante iban a ser mas comodos...claro esto hubiese sido cierto si no se hubiese presentado el pequeno detalle de que estabamos en medio del paso de entrada de los pasajeros, que nuestros asientos estaban cerca del conductor y los diez copilotos que se sentaban donde ponian mientras se fumaban un cigarrillo, los conciertos de rock de los ochenta que estuvieron poniendo en la tele por mas de cuatro horas, y lo que apestaba el vehiculo en general. Y la traca final fueron los hits musicales tales como Rocio Jurado...Jose, pense en ti!
Cabe anadir el hecho que hubo varias personas que fueron entrando durante la noche sin asiento asignado y que se sentaban en los pasillos, de vez en cuando reclinando su cabeza en nuestro reposa-brazos mientras echaban una cabezadilla...

Tras el largo viaje, teniamos entendido que podriamos cruzar la frontera (a pie) y el trayecto a Salta no tomaba mas de 3 horas. Lo cierto es que caminamos con las mochilas mas de veinte minutos a pie, y el bus a Salta se demoraria mas de 7 horas! Aqui la palabra exactitud se perdio entre el largo numero de vocablos que hay en el diccionario jejeje

La policia hizo un chequeo durante el trayecto a Argentina: todo el mundo tuvo que sacar sus pertenencias y todas las bolsas fueron revisadas....todas menos las nuestras...la unica pregunta de rigor cuando vieron mi pasaporte fue: Espanya! cree que va a ganar el mundial?
En ese preciso momento me di cuenta que tenia que resignarme a cuan detesto la idea de apoyar el futbol, y unirme a lo que une masas en Sud America: La Copa del Mundo!ja!

Salta es un lugar bonito, pero lo mas bello son sus alrededores...tanto Henrik y yo como Aurelien y Jonas (le francais) nos alojamos en un hostal que salia recomandado en la guia. Ademas ayudo que nos hubiese una chica en la estacion de buses promocionando el hostal y pagase el taxi hasta el lugar en concreto!
El hostal era perfecto para una noche de fiesta...asi lo hicimos...acabamos jugando a juegos estupidos con los mas de veinte que se unieron a la fiesta y hubo momentos de risa que duraron mucho en nuestros proximos dias...
Decidimos alquilar un coche para visitar Cachi y Cafayate...lugares que presentan paisajes fascinantes...una carretera que crea espejismos y que te hace creer que vas arriba y abajo cuando tu trayectoria es recta, prados iguales a los que se ven en las series de casa de la pradera (ups que cursi) y cactus gigantes. Ademas de formaciones rocosas como la Garganta del Diablo, la cual nos impresiono de verdad... pero como una imagen vale mas que mil palabras...ahi va mi la extension de mi texto ilustrado:

Woodfire in the bus stop...for those long and chilly days

Woodfire in the bus stop...for those long and chilly days

NO ENTIENDO!

NO ENTIENDO!

Lunch on the top!

Lunch on the top!

Me on the top: the fog and the silence kindly interrupted by the sound of a sheep

Me on the top: the fog and the silence kindly interrupted by the sound of a sheep

Foggy top and the church

Foggy top and the church


Giant Cactus

Giant Cactus


In Cachi...

In Cachi...

Star Wars!

Star Wars!

[World's ugliest dog!

World's ugliest dog!

Surise in Cafayate

Surise in Cafayate

Inside La Graganta del Diablo

Inside La Graganta del Diablo

The entrance of Garganta del Diablo

The entrance of Garganta del Diablo

La Garganta del Diablo from the top

La Garganta del Diablo from the top

Found the greenest part!

Found the greenest part!

Posted by hmontonen 18:05 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Crossing dessert into Bolivia

semi-overcast 0 °C

We decided to cross the dessert to Bolivia by 4x4 jeep. This was not just a cooler way to get to Bolivia, but we realised that we could pretty much see all things offered on excursions from San Pedro. The trip would take us three days and we would be up on altitudes close to 5000 meters. After some reseach we decided on a Bolivian travel company which was recommened to us. You need to be careful choosing companies as some people have died crossing the dessert due to poor drivers etc.

In the end the group we went with cosisted of almost only people we knew from before, the French journalists we met in San Pedro, a SouthAfrican couple we met in Vicunca, and two crazy french guys, Jonas and Aurelien, who we met a few places but first in Valpo. The last people was a nice couple, an Aussi and a Korean girl. All of us got along great and it was mainly the people that made it such a great trip, especially the two french guys were crazy, either they were singing songs for the group, climbing something, or trying to walk out on the thin ice covering some of the lagunes. Actually in one lagun the ice started to break across the whole lake and everyone had to run. In another lagune, one of the guys fell through with one of his feet. Crazy frenchies!

The landscape was amazing and very diverse. We saw some amazing colored lagunes with pelicans and lamas, saw some crazy rockformations, an active vulcano (not too active though, only some smoke coming out) went to swim in some hotspring, and we also stoped at an area with loads of geisers. There were none shooting out water very high, it was more steem blowing up and mud boiling in craters. Still very cool...possible a bit smelly.

At the begining we did not actually suffer so much...I mean we were out of breath and a bit of headache but pretty good still. However, the first night was very tough for everyone. It was minus 10 degrees and everyone was having headaches, trouble breating, and very quick heartbeats. I was actually feeling the altitude the next day too. Maybe even more than Laura, who is usually very sensitive to high altitudes and bumpy car rides.

Finally on the third day we got to the famous Salar de Yuni, the worlds largest salt flat. Even though it was not sunny, the landscape was incredible. So surreal, difficult to describe really, suppose a bit like some Salvadori Dali painting. Everything is cristal white, and there are no sense of distance, which allows for some great photo illusions. After watching the sunset, we went off to an "island" full of hugh cactuses, some 6-7 meters high. The contasts between the salt flat and the green island was really cool.

We uploaded loads of pictures, but still its nothing as we took over 800 pictures in these three days, so it was difficult make a selection...

Abandoned bus in the middle of the desert

Abandoned bus in the middle of the desert

Hug it to the bear, isnt it?

Hug it to the bear, isnt it?

Geysers...and us walking around them

Geysers...and us walking around them

Muddy bubbling lava...

Muddy bubbling lava...

The geysers...

The geysers...

Como se llama?

Como se llama?

Lagoons and the landscape

Lagoons and the landscape

Aurelien finally pushed nature too far....and fell through

Aurelien finally pushed nature too far....and fell through

The gang! The best company!

The gang! The best company!

Giant mushroom

Giant mushroom

Dalis rock formations

Dalis rock formations

Pink flamingo

Pink flamingo

Railtracks in the middle of the desert.

Railtracks in the middle of the desert.

Dancing on a can

Dancing on a can

Where is Lauri?

Where is Lauri?

Lauras only friend... a CACTUS

Lauras only friend... a CACTUS

Laura on Cactus Island

Laura on Cactus Island

Girls! Look closer...There is a surprise for you!

Girls! Look closer...There is a surprise for you!

Me los llevo a casa...parecen ricos...nyam nyam

Me los llevo a casa...parecen ricos...nyam nyam

New french taxi...Free style!

New french taxi...Free style!

Gullivers trip to Salt  desert

Gullivers trip to Salt desert

Henrik best jumping position

Henrik best jumping position

Could you pass me the SALT?

Could you pass me the SALT?

Because I worth it!

Because I worth it!

Salt piles

Salt piles

Posted by hmontonen 19:48 Archived in Bolivia Comments (1)

San Pedro de Atacama

sunny 18 °C

We wanted to see the driest dessert in the world so we headed next to San Pedro de Atacama, which is an oasis close to Bolivia. Our buss arrived quite a few hours late, as usually without any specific reason or other info, so it was already dark when we arrived and there is almost no electric light in the village. Still we could feel that we were in a dessert. All streets are dirt roads and all houses are made of clay (adobe houses). Another thing we realized was how touristic this place was. Right away we got attacked by people trying to get us to their hostels, backpacker bars and restaurants everywhere and hundreds of travel agencies also shouting to you if you wish to go sandboarding, watch the salt dessert, geysers etc. whenever you passed.
Still the place has a nice sort of charm to it. It is very laidback type of atmosphere sort of like Ko Pangang in Thailand with scruffy looking backpackers wonder around, bonfires in many hostels and restaurants, all in all which made the village quite nice to hangout in. It is definitively a place that all backpackers go to. During our four days in San Pedro we ran into pretty much every person we had met travelling...really crazy. In addition we met quite a few new ones, like friendly two French journalist living in San Paulo.
Most people had warned us that when we´re in San Pedro we will go on tours which are expensive. However, we managed to do most things nearby just by renting mountainbikes....oh and what bikes these where. Best bikes I have ever ridden made the trips so much more fun. Ended up renting bikes three days in the row from the same place.
We went one day to Valle De la Luna, which is basically a old volcano area that with a moonlandscapie feeling. Really cool, went through some caves, climbed so huge sand dunes (running down was more fun though), and so saw some weird rock formations created by sandstorms. All in all a wicked place to go.
Another day we renting sandboards and cycled to the even bigger sand dunes. Loads of tour companies went there with people so we had to share the dunes, but we ran into Stina a nice German girl we met before, who by the way kicked ass on sandboard, other instructors even asked if she was an instructor….they never asked me though:( Sandboarding is ok fun, but its very slow and you cannot do anything except simply try to ride straight down without falling. Definitely prefer snowboarding, but I think was more fun for Laura who never been on a snowboard...in the end she got some distance without falling over.
The issue we have had with not being able to take out money finally worked in our advantage, our hostel made a mistake saying that they could accept card payments, so in the end we only had to pay half price for our hostel. Also we finally managed to get the laptop fixed. Hurray for us!

Henrik on the dunes

Henrik on the dunes

Moonwalking

Moonwalking

Crawling through one of the caves

Crawling through one of the caves

Cavewoman

Cavewoman

Watching sunset after sandboarding

Watching sunset after sandboarding

Sandboard, vulcano background, and Henrik

Sandboard, vulcano background, and Henrik

Posted by hmontonen 16:59 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

This is a thank you to everyone who are meeting on the way!

Serena, the stars and the Elqui Valley

sunny 20 °C
View South America on hmontonen's travel map.

Serena was our next destination afer Valpo. This was basically the gateway to an observatory where you coud see stars and planets and the wondersull Valley called Pisco.
We spent our first night in a hostel called Marias Casa...and, after having been there, this is the only name this hostel could ever have. Its owner , Maria, is one of the nicest lady I have ever met. She would be so kind to everyone...We even heard stories from other people who have also stayed there...and they would all refer to anecdote about Maria.
Maria, thank you for your kindness.

Jumping session on the beach in La Serena

Jumping session on the beach in La Serena


Jumping on beach

Jumping on beach

Chilling in Chile

Chilling in Chile


After Serena who head to Vicuña, the closest village to Observatorio Mamalluca. Not much to say about from Vicuña, except for that it was raining cats and dogs when we got there...Note: this is an area where they get 320 sunny days, so as one can imagine the sewage system is rather unefficient (I qould almost say: no existent ;). And it was raining and raining and raining...and the village became a little venice. It was a mission to get over even one street! Some people even built up tiny bridges with wood trunks!If we only had a boat...
Ohh but we finally got to see stars and planets through a telescope!Saturnos was the coolest!

We had the incredible idea to go to a Pisco cellar. We checked the opening times with the not very helpful man from tourist office, and decided to go there although it was by the entrance of the village, a 30minutes walk. It was pouring down a lot on the way there...and just when we arrived they told us that they were closing. Ups!Small mistake from the tourist office man!
Anyways we got a taste of the Pisco (fucking strong) and got a ride back by one of the girls who worked.
She was really nice; we never introduced so I donn't know the name...but thanks

The next day our plan was to go to Pisco Elqui but Henriks card was not working in the village next to Pisco, Vicuna. We tried in all the ATMs in town but none seemed to worked.
Because Pisco Elqui is such a tiny village, they only accept cards...so we had to go back to bloody Serena, just to go to a bank and be able to take out many over the till.
Later on, we have realised that the problem is actually with card...and it is a swedish card!They have basically messed up. Yes!sounds unbelievable hey? But it is true: Sweden has made a mistake! Henrik even tested to call the bank in Sweden, Visa, and Mastercard...but nothing worked. On top of that the computer stopped working so we could not make skype calls to the banks or anything.
Anyways, when the problem with money got fixed, we went back to Vicuna and off to Pisco the next day.

Pisco Elqui is lovely! There we met our friend Shivone, from Australia, and we took bikes together. We had a wonderful day exploring the villages nearby, except that I got a flat tire and we had to walk a few km to get it fixed!
The second day we hitchhiked four times...it was pretty easy actually. Quite rural but fun! It seems that it is the best way to explore the area... during our trek we met a lovely doggy who followed us the whole way back to Elqui! We tried to get her to go back but she would not. We even hitchhiked twice and yet when we were back in town we run into her later that night! She had done 15 km on her own just for us! That was overwhelming! She was so happy to see us everytime.
We did had fun in Pisco and we really enjoyed the company of the very special Shivone... So...thanks Shiv and keep smiling!
Laura saying goodby to the dog, the second time he caught up with us after we hitchiked

Laura saying goodby to the dog, the second time he caught up with us after we hitchiked

Hitchiking was so easy, here we are getting a ride back on an open truck

Hitchiking was so easy, here we are getting a ride back on an open truck

Wineyards and view

Wineyards and view

Henrik managed to reach his little island in this freezing river...must have been 3 degrees or so

Henrik managed to reach his little island in this freezing river...must have been 3 degrees or so

Trying to get a ride after Laura stolen some grapes from the wineyard.

Trying to get a ride after Laura stolen some grapes from the wineyard.

The way back was all downhill...we were all very happy for that

The way back was all downhill...we were all very happy for that

Laura´s bike being fixed

Laura´s bike being fixed

Laura saying goodby to the dog...or trying to

Laura saying goodby to the dog...or trying to

We will miss you little doggy.

We will miss you little doggy.

Finally we reached end of the road after walking 4 km with a bike with flat tire

Finally we reached end of the road after walking 4 km with a bike with flat tire

Laura with a massive dog that ruled the village

Laura with a massive dog that ruled the village

Rainman and roses

Rainman and roses

Posted by hmontonen 19:01 Archived in Chile Comments (1)

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