Picking up where I left off, driving down from the high altiplano out of Bolivia, we arrived at the Chilean border just as it got dark but there was a warm evening breeze, a welcome sign that we were finally out of cold high altitude nights and into warm weather at last! Hooray!
San Pedro de Atacama, the town where we were staying for just 2 nights, seemed so cute as we drove through it to our campsite, just like a postcard with small white-washed stone houses and shops, cacti and wooden signs. It was our first opportunity to camp which was fun even if it was pretty cold in the early hours of the morning. The single day in San Pedro was very well spent; having breakfast of Dulce de Leche pancakes, wandering the town in the baking sun, having lunch and then going into a place in the Atacama desert, one of the driest places on earth, called Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon) to watch the sunset. The terrain there really does resemble a lunar landscape - it is incredible. The best thing of all in Chile though was the stargazing tour which was without doubt one of the best things I´ve ever done! We were driven out to an observatory in the desert where an astronomer talked to us about constellations, comets and galaxies, and we had the chance to look through the huge telescopes they have set up there. The skies in this Chilean desert were so clear and perfect for seeing the stars and we even got some fab pictures of the moon through a telescope!
And then on to Argentina! Salta our first stop was so much fun; By day cable-car-ing to see the views over the city, smoothies and hot dogs with crisps on top, By night the most enormous amazing steak you´ll ever taste, mucho vino, and the delights of finding a shopping trolley in the middle of a reggae club... need I say more...
Our next point on the map was a bit out of the ordinary from the usual back-to-basics style of overlanding. We found ourselves spending a very pleasant day cycling in the sunshine round the vineyards of the wine region of Cafayate, sampling the very delicious wines on offer, before having yet another excellent steak on a bbq! Not a bad way to spend a day!
After Cafayate we headed to a contender for one of my favourite places so far... the Estancia of Los Potreros near Cordoba. We had 3 nights on this Gaucho ranch (Gauchos are Argentinian cowboys!), where we learnt how to horseride western style, and how to lasso a cow! (Of the group myself and Charlotte were the only ones who managed to do it - twice!) We had wine tasting, a traditional argentine `asado´ bbq and a music night with live music and dancing with the gauchos. It was an incredible few days and a kind of idyll away from the rest of the world with no internet and no phone signal.
That´s all for now but there´s more to come on Argentina; not least the bright lights of Buenos Aires! Then it's about turn as we head north to the Jesuit mission ruins of San Ignacio, Iguassu Falls, Brazil, and hopefully even warmer weather! Woo!