Hola a todos!
The past few weeks have been amazing! I met two fellow Dutchies (Sven and Wouter) in Córdoba and I had been travelling with them for a while. There wasn't much we could do in Córdoba though. Many tourists go to this city for the old historic center with many interesting buildings. The other reason is the crazy nightlife this city has to offer. Córdoba has 6 universities that do not only have Argentinian students, but also many students from abroad. One major reason to sign up for Argentinian universities is that Argentina offers free education for everyone (except for some studies). I have been told that its neighboring country Chile is the most expensive country in the world when it comes to education. It's quite remarkable to see this huge contrast.
Initially, the plan was to stay there for three nights but I ended up staying there for almost a week. I wanted to do skydiving there, but the weather was not that great. They told me it would clear up later that week, but I guess I ran out of luck… no skydiving in Córdoba. Instead we did some massive partying in Córdoba. We had an awesome group of crazy people in the hostel (a group of Danish, American, German, French and Irish guys). The owners of the hostel even mentioned that they had never experienced such drinking behavior before. We definitely broke records and I'm glad to be part of that. Thank you Tango Hostel!
After Córdoba we went up to the city of Salta. It's just a normal city and there isn't much you can do there either. So why go to Salta then? Pretty much everyone goes to this place, so they can visit the landscapes outside of Salta. This is an area characterized by colorful mountains, salt flats and its steppe climate. Our road trip took 4 days and we had been driving a distance of approximately 1100 kilometers. During this trip we saw many beautiful things and little rough villages. Even though the roads weren't that great we drove flat out and we kind of demolished the car.
We had quite a tight schedule; when we went back to Salta to bring back our rental car we immediately bought a bus ticket to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. The next morning I travelled to Chile and I officially had to say goodbye to Argentina…
When I just arrived in San Pedro de Atacama it reminded me of the streets in Iraq you usually see in movies, but then it gradually changed as I approached the city center. During the day it's extremely hot, but when the sun goes down the temperature decreases immensely. The Atacama desert is the driest desert in the world and San Pedro de Atacama is situated 2500 meters above sea level.
First, we did some sand boarding. For me it was the first time and it was quite a lot of fun, but it was tough climbing up the dunes each time. Imagine the hot sun burning your body at this altitude. There were no clouds and there was no way one could hide for it. Luckily, we didn't forget our sunblock and we used it several times. One major disappointment is the fact that my camera stopped working all of a sudden due to the sand. Bummer!
On the same day we continued to "La Valle de la Luna" aka "The Moon Valley". It is called this way, because this area has a strong resemblance with the surface of the moon. We climbed up to the highest point of the valley and here we had an amazing 360 degrees view of the valley. The tour guide gave us all a bit of "pisco sour" (the national alcoholic drink of Chile) and we were kicking it here as we saw the sun go down.
The next day we went to the "Geysers del Tatio". We went up to 4200 meters to see them and it became harder to breath. We went up early in the morning, because the best time to see them is at sunset. It was amazingly cold due to the high altitude and there's no sun to warm you up. The temperature hit approximately -10 degrees Celcius and it was one of the coldest areas I've been to so far. There is also a hot geyser pool where we bathed. It was quite ok when you were in the pool, but before you get in or after you get out it's cold as ****.
In the afternoon we went to Laguna Cejar, a small salty lake where we floated in the water. We also went to the salt flats, but it wasn't that impressive anymore after having seen the ones in Argentina. I'm looking forward to Salaar de Uyuni in Bolivia, because that one is supposed to be really impressive!
Tomorrow morning at 8AM I'll be taking the bus to Antofagasta, a city close to San Pedro de Atacama which is located at the coast. The last few weeks have been crazy, so the plan is to chill out here for a moment and get myself a new camera before I enter Bolivia. I'm really looking forward to it… Argentina, Uruguay and Chile haven't been cheap…