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  • Writer's pictureUrsula

Chile - Argentina Part 1 7.10.- 6.11.23

We cross the border from Peru to Chile quickly and spend the night in Arica before heading into the mountains. In Putre, a small village at an altitude of over 3500m, we take a trip to the Salar de Surire at an altitude of over 4000m. On the 120 km long gravel road, we meet our first llamas and spot a nandu.

On the way we come across a small typical village.

The landscape is breathtaking and the salt lake with its flamingos, vicuñas and the reflections of the volcanoes is another highlight of our trip.

We also stop off at a steaming thermal lake, but don't take a dip, even though our jackets have long since been stowed away thanks to the bright sunshine.

We use the second day to visit the Lauca National Park with the impressive Lake Chungara and a spectacular lagoon landscape.

On the way back, we make a short detour to the small, typical mountain village of Parinacota with its church and picturesque little cemetery.

Via Iquique, we head towards San Pedro de Atacama to the colorful Rainbow Valley. In the beautiful evening light, the beautiful, colorful rocks in the 3 km long gorge are perfectly illuminated.

Shortly before San Pedro de Atacama, we enjoy beautiful views of the Devil's Valley and the Moon Valley.

The next day we drive to the freshwater lagoon 'Ojos del Salar' and the large saltwater lagoon 'Tebinquinche', where we can finally stretch our legs again.

On a beautiful route, past lagoons and volcanoes, we cross the Paso de Jama into Argentina.

In Purmamarca, we check into a lovingly furnished small accommodation.

Directly adjacent to the pretty little town is the Cerro de los 7 Colores, the 'Mountain of the 7 Colors', where we go on a short hike.

Almost 100 km away, the best place to enjoy an evening view of the impressively colorful mountain range 'Cerro de los 14 Colores' is from the 'Serrania del Hornocal' viewpoint.

We drive towards Salta via Salina Grande, where we take a tour of the huge salt lake in convoy.

The journey towards Salta also offers spectacular landscapes.

In Salta, also known as 'La Linda', or the beautiful city, we enjoy a few days of relaxation.

The drive to Cachi leads through the Los Cardones National Park, which is known for its candelabra cacti, and then to the Angastaco National Monument.

Cachi itself is a pretty little town where we also meet the flocks of rock parakeets.

In the wine region of Cafayate we move into a vacation apartment and buy some vegetables, bread and meat (all together for 3 CHF) for the next few days at the simple mercado.

We book a wine tour and tasting at the impressive, Italian-designed Bodega Piatelli. We taste Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon from vineyards at different altitudes and realize that the Malbec is better from vines at higher altitudes and that we like the Cabernet Sauvignon from lower altitudes better.

A trip to the Quebrada de Cafayate (or Quebrada de las Conchas), a spectacular canyon with impressive red and gray rock formations, is an absolute must.

Our journey continues via Belen to Villa Union, often on gravel roads, always with the Andes in sight and shortly before Villa Union we pass through a huge red valley.

We set off early to get tickets for a tour at the visitor center of Talampaya National Park, 60 km away. Alongside the Iguazu and Los Glaciares national parks, this is the third of Argentina's famous parks.

Unfortunately, there is no internet and so we have to pay for the tickets in cash with our hard-to-get pesos. This means queuing for another hour at the ATM in the next town in the hope that it will dispense money.

The excursion into the park with its 150 meter high vertical red walls is spectacular. We find petroglyphs, take photos of bizarre rock formations and hike up one of the mountains to enjoy the magnificent view.

The next day, in El Chiflon, we visit the Moon Valley in the Ischigualasto Provincial Park in a guided convoy on a 40 km / 4 hour circuit and stop at the Bochas (spheres), submarine, phoenix and mushroom viewpoints.

The sandy track to the park exit leads past colorful stone formations. This park is also well worth a visit.

Shortly before Barreal, we discover another canyon with impressive rock formations.

In Barreal itself, we try unsuccessfully to get hold of cash and get petrol for just 10 francs because it is rationed.

Our next destination is Lujan de Cuyo near Mendoza, where we move into a stylish little house.

We enjoy a week's break here and are busy finding cash and fuel. Luckily there is a Western Union Bank here where you can transfer money within minutes and we can withdraw 100 CHF pesos. Most petrol stations don't have any petrol and at one that is open we have to queue for 1.5 hours. Fortunately, when we finally arrive at the pump, there is still gas and with a little tip the tank is filled to the brim. This ensures our onward journey to Chile.

A trip to the surrounding vineyards with the white Andes in the background is also a must in Mendoza.

Before heading to Chile, we spend the night in Uspallata where we happen to be able to watch a gaucho riding competition on Sunday.

And here too there is a '7 Colores Cerro' which we visit, of course.

Now we cross the Andes to Santiago de Chile, where a modern and efficient passport and customs control office is located in a beautifully protected building at an altitude of 3,200 meters.

The next blog will report on Easter Island and the central part of Chile and Argentina.

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