Published: February 28th 2012December 5th 2011
We got to Santiago after a 24 hour trip from Buenos Aires trough the Andes, which was an unbelievable beautiful drive trough the snow covered mountains.. As soon as we got of the bus, we had to start organizing buying our car. We organized to couchsurf at Ines and Titos place, but they were not home until late afternoon and we arrived first thing in the morning.. So having a quick snack, jumped into the next taxi to go see a VW Kombi we were thinking about buying. It’s a Volkswagen minibus that was transferred into a Campervan buy a guy called Mister Kombi. He does a great job with the cars!
So we arrived at Nils place, who was the guy selling the van. We previously talked to another girl (7 students bought the car together for a school project), and she told us that the price of the kombi was negotiable, which was out of the oqueasion straight away with Nils. 3 Million Pesos for the beauty, not a cent less. We took her for a little test drive and she did well for being such an old car. The whole engine was refurbished by Mister
Kombi, so that shouldn’t give us too much trouble, but her highest speed is 80km/h and the stearing is as wabbely as a jellycake.. lol Never the less we fell in love with her, but wanted to think over night if we were ready to pay so much money for a car.
We took a cab to our hosts Ines and Titos house, where they welcomed us warmly and even cooked us dinner and opened a bottle of wine with us.. We had a look at a few more cars, mainly 4 wheel drives,considering we were going to Bolivia and Peru and the roads wouldn’t be as good as here in Chile. There was a few good ones so we made a couple of phonecalls the next day, but unfortunately they were all sold already. Also communication was hard since no one speaks English here and our Spanish is still crap lol
The next day was decision day – and after umming and arring und making a positive/negative list we decided to get the beauty..yes she was old and would break down many times, yes she was hard to stear and slow and parking was a nightmare, but
she was just soooo cool!! Lol
Getting the money together was a nightmare, the Chilean banks wouldn’t let us get more than 300 dollars out a day at first, 2 days later we figured out how to get 1000 out each, and the rest we had to do trough Internet banking, which turned out to be another nightmare..lol but we finally got it all together and were ready to pick up our baby. For the paperwork we had to get a RUT number, which was easy and free and only took a few minutes. After that we had to go to a Notariat with the previous owner, loads and loads of paperwork, thank god Nils spoke Spanish..we went to pick up our baby after 5 days of running around like crazy for paperwork and money to get organized, and when we drove her out of the carpark, she just stopped half way up… great! Nils has left her bone dry for us, so we had to walk to the next gas station to get some petrol.. great start..hahaha a few minutes later, we were on our way to go kombi-shopping (bedding,pans and pods and so on) we got stopped
by a policeman.. we couldn’t believe it, on our first drive already.. he wanted to see all the papers and asked a lot of questions that we didn’t understand, but we blagged our way trough somehow and even managed to make him laugh when we told him that we sleep in the car.. pheeeew, we were a bit nervous, since matt was driving and he didn’t have an international driving licence…
So all in all our first week in Chile was a bit stressfull, but we got our car organized, all ready for Matts mum to arrive for her 2 weeks holiday. Santiago in general is really nice, we had a few strolls trough the city, there are loads of OP-shops and ice cream stores and they love their Hot Dogs here, you can buy them everywhere!
The highlight of our stay in Santiago was definitely a festival called CREAMFIELDS. It’s a trance festival with international djs playing like DAVID GUETTA, FERRY CORSTEN and many more, 5 stages going mad from 9 in the evening until 6 in the morning. Matt and I got super excited about it and dressed all in fluorescent colors, I even
got a pink wig for the ocuasion.. Soon enough we found out that we were the only ones dressed up and the attraction for all locals, felt more like a photoshoot than a concert lol We smuggeled Matts Camelpack into the festival, filled with vodka and a little bit of sprite, crazy night, very drunk.. David Guetta was amazing as expected and we fell into bed at 7 in the morning absolutely exhausted.
The next day was a dark day in Matts life, he didn’t leave the bedroom until 23.30 at night, and only left the bed to run to the bathroom and puke and back to bed.. waaaay to much vodka for the little boy, apparently it was the worst hangover of his life.. I felt bad and ordered him some pizza hut at midnight, since the soup I cooked for him earlier came straight back out and he hadn’t eaten all day.. Happy ending with a massive pizza and chicken wings at 1 in the morning!
On the 19.11.2011 Matts mum Lesley came for a 2 weeks visit, we went to pick her up from the airport with our beauty who we called Kobi.. We organized
a hotel for Lesley in downtown Santiago, so we checked her in and went for a stroll around the City. Lovely food, Lesleys first Pisco Sour (only to be one of many more) and a hillclimb up to a castel overlooking the city, what a great day.. We went to have dinner in Bellavista, a very nice area of Santiago. The restaurant we ate at was incredible, it had a live band playing in the middle of the restaurant, the singer was great and the food even better.. Valparaiso and Vina del Mar
20.11.2011, today our road trip officially started. We set off to Valparaiso, a town about 1.5 hours south of Santiago. It’s a town built on a very steep hill with very special architecture. After some traditional Chilean stew, we had a hike up the hundreds of stairs to check out the town..
We decided to move on to Vina del Mar which is a 20min trip around the corner, a little beach town with markets, stunning beaches and a great charm about it. Another stroll, some more amazing food, this time Thai and Sushi and Matt and my first
night sleeping in the kombi, how exciting!! La Serena and Valle del Elqui
The drive to La Serena was stunning, along the beautiful coastline of Vina del mar, Concon, Ritoque, Quintero and Zapallar. We had a quick Ice-cream stop in Los Villos, a sleepy little fishing village and then drove on towards La Serena. Further on we found a little shop on the side of the road selling Aloe Vera Creams (very much to Lesleys excitement) and outside there was the cutest Lama-baby in the World! It was only 6 days old and Lesley even got to feed it with a bottle of milk (because its mother doesn’t love it, the owner explained. :o() It was very hard to say goodbye to the cutie, and it even ran after our kombi when we left..
We drove on until it started to get dark,so we stopped in a place called Termas de Socos, there was a 1km dirt track leading into the desert and to what hopefully would be a place to sleep for us. When we got there it turned out to be a cute little spa in the middle of the
desert, we didn’t stay for the night dou out of unspoken reasons..ATTIC ATTIC ATTIC ATTIC LOL
So we pushed on to La Serena, got there around midnight and drove around in the city for 3 hours trying to find a Hotel for Les. We were all absolutely exhausted and nearly had tears of happiness in our eyes when we finally found a place that had space and wasn’t a hundred trillion billion dollars.. we all collapsed into bed and didn’t move until midday the next day. We spent a relaxing day in La Serena, having a lovely breakfast down the beach, a stroll through the local markets and a picnic outside the Kobi down the beach for dinner.. lovely dovely..
Vicuna was on the program today, which is a part of the mystical Valle del Elqui, a 2 hour drive East from La Serena. We got on the wrong road by mistake and had a very enjoyable drive through many little mountain towns on a dirt track. Kobi managed really well and we got some stunning pictures with the green vineyards against the plain gray mountains of the Andes. Vicuna itself is another sleepy mountain town, we found
a very nice hostel called Andes de Vicuna. From there we started a hike up to a mountain called Corro de Virgen, it was about 35 degrees and we were sweating our tits off.. it was a very steep climb and once up there, the view was breathtaking. Such a surreal place this is, with its dry, brown mountains that only see 3 days of rain a year, and yet there are the lush green vineyards in the valley beneath them, such an immense and beautiful contrast.
We booked a stargazing tour for tonight, at the world famous Observatorium Mamalluca. Its astonishing how many stars you can see from this valley, so clear and as Lesley likes to say, so close.. The tour was very interesting, looking through a massive telescope to see Jupiter and its stripes, venus and some amazing Nebulas (clowds that are not yet stars). 200 billion galaxies are supposed to be out there next to ours, a number our mind couldn’t wrap itself around in any way.. The guide also showed us all the star signs in the sky and the most important star constellations. And ofcourse how to navigate with the help of the
north star and the southern cross, but I think we still don’t quite get it.. lol Lesley was struggeling a lot to not behave like a naughty schoolgirl and even punched a guy buy mistake because she thought it was matt ;o) Great night, freezing cold but very interesting.
The day after,we moved on to Pisco Elqui, even further in the Elqui Valley. When we got there, to whole road (it was more like a dirttrack then a road really) was blocked off because they were filming a Chilean soap. So we had to take an even crazier round around the town. We found a cute hotel for Lesley, booked in and also booked a tour for the next day to some hidden hot springs somewhere in the Andes. We had some lunch and went on a little roadtrip to the next towns Los Nichos, Horcon and Alcohuaz. These towns were even tinier than Pisco Elqui, was a great drive trough the mountains on a tiny dirt track dou. On the way back we stoppend next to the river and had a well deserved glass of Pisco Sour, Lesley’s new favourite drink lol (Pisco is a local drink, made
of grapes, very tasty!) We cooked some food outside the Kombi later on and went to sleep early, we had a big day ahead of us..
We met at 10 o clock to start our tour to the hotsprings. 5 mins into the drive the road was blocked again, another day of filming for the soap, today a volcano erupted and everyone died.. lol (in the soap only)so we had to hang around until they were done filming and we finally could start our trip. We had to drive nearly 3 hours up the mountains, the drive was spectacular, the mountains changed colours every few minutes..it was so beautiful.. we drove after a shepherd that lost his goats, little springs, absolut nothingness and then mountains again.. breathtaking. When we finally got to the place, we had to hike another hour to get to the springs. Apparently only the people that took us knew where the springs where, and only because a shepherd told them about it. It was absolutely out in the wild up in the mountains, the hike was very beautiful again, along mountains on a sandy desert, climbing down sandfields and over little rivers, it was quite
and adventure. When we got there, it was just amazing. The springs were 35 – 41 degress and right next to a river, so you could jump from the boiling hot into the freezing cold. It was a great place, so peaceful and beautiful and absolutely deserted. We stayed for about an hour, jumping from hot spring to hot spring and back into the icy cold river. Another hour hike back up to the car, then our guide took us to a spot even further up in the mountains for lunch. It was a great place again, massive stones everyone that looked like faces and birds, a very magical place. After some more pictures and great lunch we headed back to Pisco Elqui. We were all shattered after today, went for a shower and some food and off to bed again. Isla Damas
We had to get up really early today, because we had a big driving day ahead of us. We drove back to La Serena and then North, towards Isla Damas. Another dirt track led us out to Isla Damas, where we booked a boat tour with some fisherman to go see the Island. The trip
was absolutely fantastic. The fisherman took us out into the open sea for 40mins, past the Island and we were all a bit confused. Until all of a sudden a whole dolphin family started appearing just a few meters away from the boat. There must have been about 15 of them, just swimming along with us, coming up for air every few seconds. It was absolutely breathtaking to have them so close to us. We followed the dolphins for a while, and they kept coming up, diving under the boat and coming up on the other side again, swimming just alongside the boat. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen….
After the dolphins, the fisherman took us towards Island Chorros, and when he turned into a an opening, we were surrounded by Sea Lions. There was so many of them, just chilling on the rocks, enjoying the sun. When we drove past them, the fisherman clapped his hands so they woke up and started looking around. The males (who had massive heads) started throwing their heads into the back, a macho gesture of them. Again it was so magical to be so close to
these beautiful animals, you could have touched them if you wanted to. Some of the seals slid of the rocks into the water, from such a lazy animal into such a graceful swimmer, it was amazing to see the transformation.
Just around the corner, the pinguins where waiting for us. They had a long trail from the top of the Island all the way down to the sea and we could watch them hopp from one stone to another, sooo cute. There was also a great amount of birds, loads of Seagulls and Cormorans.
We drove on to Isla Damas, which had a beautiful white sandy beach and we could walk around the Island for an hour. There was thousands of Kaktai on the Islands, lots of Lizzards and Seagulls again. What a great trip, we were all absolutely amazed by the dolphins and Sea Lions and the little Penguins so close to us.
We decided to drive on to the next city which was Caldera. We found a cute little hotel for Lesley, she went straight to sleep after a crazy day and Matt and I went for some food and drinks to a bar before
we snuggeled up into our kombi to sleep.
The next day we headed towards Antofagasta and stayed in a beautiful Eco lodge directly on the beach.. it was sooo nice, a bit spookey aswell, but we loved it.. watched the black swan on our laptop (yes,its tiny) and went to sleep..
We finally made it to Antofagasta the day after, got lost a few times while trying to find the perfect spot for Matt to watch the sunset...lol.. we went to the airport so Lesley could get a hotelroom there for the night, hahaha what a joke, the airport is about as big as our house and no hotel anywhere near..So we headed back into the city and stayed at the Ibis hotel. It was great and Lesley invited us to a wonderful goodbye dinner in the restaurant. It was scrumptious!! thanks again!!
Unfortunately we had to say goodbye to Lesley the day after, we had soo much fun travelling together and we will miss her dearly.. hopefully she will come and join us soon again on another adventure with the kombi..
There are more photos below