Category Archives: South America

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Santiago, Chile: Cosmopolitan Paradise

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We don’t know what we were expecting when we arrived in Santiago airport, but a cosmopolitan, modern city filled with wide streets, Spanish colonial architecture, an endless array of designer stores and the finest fine dining going around, was not it.

Alas, mass media has pulled the wool over our eyes once again – there is much more to Chile than dry deserts and glaciers. This city easily outdoes a lot of European cities we have visited. The prices for eating out are on par with Melbourne (subtext: expensive). Accommodation is likely some of the most expensive in South America, alongside Buenos Aires, given the country is wealthy and has had a strong economic performance over the last 20 years.

We’re staying in the picturesque, bohemian neighboured of Bellavista (pronounced Beyahvista, since double L’s are spoken as a Y). There is a law university across from our hostel, so everyday we are in the midst of countless students, and consequently, are in the vicinity of cool, rustic bars and amazing, classy restaurants, which are situated in Patio Bellavista – an arcade of restaurants, bars, and stalls selling Chilean copper ornaments. The street art around the streets is actual art, not the scruffy graffiti that’s often seen in most cities. There are some spectacular pieces up the backstreets, as one walks toward San Cristobal.

We were excited to visit Valparaiso, but have since had to cancel as the country’s worst-ever bush fires have destroyed much of the port side city, leaving at last count, 12,500 people homeless, and at least 15 dead.
That’s now two earthquakes, two tsunamis, and a deadly bushfire in the space of two weeks for Chile. The president has declared it a disaster zone and a state of emergency, and right now, the entire city is under military rule.

We will get a bus down there for the day, but as much as we would love to stay, it wouldn’t feel right since there’s so much tragedy.

We’re off now to eat more empanadas and drink pisco sours (the strongest drink since Hungarian palinka). Santiago has really left us speechless. You would be hard pressed to find a city like this in Europe, let alone anywhere else. Oh I forgot to mention the most important part: Santiago is surrounded by the Andes!

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The Beach Film

Latin America: The Journey Begins

Latin America, here we come!

We depart for Chile Monday morning from Melbourne, with a stopover in Sydney. From there, it’s a 12 hour flight to Santiago, and once in Santiago, we will be hiring bikes to explore the poetic capital by wheel! Some of history’s greatest ever poets resided in Chile, such as Pablo Neruda and Ruben Dario, who flicked their poetic prose down south in Valparaiso. This is where we will be celebrating Easter – Latin America’s street art capital:

Real street "art" - not substandard graffiti!
Real street “art” – not substandard graffiti!

 

After celebrating Easter in Chile, we will be catching a bus across the Argentina border into Mendoza – the world famous wine region. The weather is in the mid-20s everywhere we’re visiting, until we go “to the end of the world” a.k.a Patagonia, down South at the tip of Antarctica, where it will be below zero. We decided to prolong our stay in Patagonia, since Sam wants to climb the Perito Moreno glacier, and I want to hike Monte Fitz Roy – two amazing journeys that will take upwards of 10 hours to complete.

We’ll keep you posted with photos and travel stories soon! Leave comments or questions below :)

 

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Patagonia: Pure Adventure!

In four weeks, we leave for Chile before crossing the border into Argentina. First on the agenda is Mendoza, a region made famous by the wine it produces, and the trekking, water rafting, horse riding, and snow sports it has on offer. After this, we will be making our way to one of the harshest, most isolated places on Earth: Patagonia.

Perito Moreno

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Patagonia is located at the very bottom of Argentina, and is home to the Perito Moreno Glacier, and Monte Fitz Roy. Fitz Roy has a reputation for being an extreme hike, despite its average height, due to the sheer granite faces present long stretches of arduous technical climbing. In addition, the weather in the area is exceptionally inclement and treacherous. Bear Grylls did an episode here, which showcased just how unpredictably dangerous the terrain can be. Crevasses hidden beneath the snow appear at random throughout the mountain, which can drop down into pure darkness. Instant death, or at least a painful one, is virtually guaranteed.

Monte Fitz Roy at sunset
Monte Fitz Roy at sunset

Only recently, famed climber Chad Kellog was killed on the mountain when a boulder struck him on the mountain. The area is stunning, and arguably one of the most beautiful, most remote places you can find on earth, but there’s a risk in such harsh conditions. But that’s what travellers live for: To explore new horizons, to see new places, to experience culture, and ultimately, to live freely.

We’ll be updating Backpacker Adventures during our South America and Central America journey over the next six months, and invite you to leave any advice, thoughts, or questions you may have!

Hitting the open road again! It's the only time I feel "at home"
Hitting the open road again! It’s the only time I feel “at home”

Have you visited Patagonia, or know of anybody who has? This will be my first time in South and Central America, so leave me some tips if you like! If anybody happens to be around, some Argentinian wine and travel story trading would be most welcome!

Happy travelling! :)

Valparaiso

On Our Way to Chile! Stop One of South America 2014!

So the adventures continue well into 2014! 

And so they should. Ever since travelling overseas for the first time in 2005, my life has changed for the better: Seeing new places, having fun with new faces, and absorbing culture on a molecular level which has enhanced my mind and nourished my soul.

To all my fellow travellers out there, I know you feel the same!

In April, we will be flying from Australia into Santiago, Chile, where we will travel, explore, and experience everything the good Chileans have to offer! Valparaiso has really caught my eye, and for those of you who haven’t heard about this port side city, imagine a colourful plethora of street art that illuminates the buildings. Imagine true street artists decorating a quiet, Latin American neighbourhood, then picture yourself immersed in the southern city.

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There are very few places in the world I have visited, where a city has literally been painted with such artistic fortitude. I stumbled across this city by chance, actually: Originally we weren’t sure if we would tackle Santiago, followed by a few wine regions, and then thanks to the power of random Google entries and an inkling that Chile MUST offer more than well, wine (not that there’s anything wrong with wine, believe me…), this is what we stumbled upon:

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Valpo

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If that’s not enough to make all you backpackers take a second look at Chile, I don’t know what is! I’m excited to see this all for myself, immerse myself in the street art scene, and discover more great artwork that I can share with you all on Backpacker Adventures! 

Have you been to Chile before? Or have you almost skipped over a country you didn’t think was worth visiting, only to discover, like I did, at the last minute that something truly astounding was waiting to be explored? Let us know in the comments below, we would love to hear from you!