Friday, November 9, 2012

Rio de Janeiro

In Rio we are staying at:  OUR B&B
Rua Barão da Torre, 600 – Ipanema – Rio de Janeiro
One week in Rio then by plane back to Chicago, over Atlanta.
Visiting all landmarks and the city and hoping the weather will be with us, as of now we had a few hours of rain in the past three plus weeks. Well it can rain in Rio - today, Tuesday, all day rain or drizzle so we explored downtown, not much fun in the rain. Went to famous coffee house Colombo.

Ipanema Beach
Rio - Sugarloaf Mountain - View Botafogo


1967 vs 2012

Iguaçu Falls

Will be arriving at the Falls on Wednesday November 7 and stay for 4 nights on the Brazilian side. Expect to take buses to the Argentinian side to explore the falls there as well on the Brazilian side.
We have a great hotel, 15 walk to Bus Station or 5 minutes to a few local restaurants with outside seating.
Day 1 cloudy with some rain but we went to the falls on the Brazilian side, Day 2 visited the Birthpark on the Brazilian side - all by local buses. Saturday, our last full day we take a tour to the Argentinian side - visiting the falls, walk upper and lower trails and take a boat under the falls. Sunday off to Rio by plane.
Brazilian side Falls

Brazilian side Falls
Bird Park
Iguazu Falls, in Iguazu River, are one of the world's largest waterfalls. They extend over 2,700 m (nearly 2 miles)  in a semi-circular shape.  Of the 275 falls that collectively make up Iguassu Falls, "Devil's Throat" is the tallest at 80 m in height. Iguazu Falls are on the border between the Brazilian state of Paraná and the Argentine province of Misiones, and are surrounded by two National Parks (BR/ARG). Both are subtropical rainforests that are host to hundreds of rare and endangered species of flora and fauna.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Tucuman, Argentina

Arrived in Tucuman Saturday afternoon. The best bus station we have seen yet, clean and like a mall. Over 50 bus terminals. On Saturday not much activity. Very few backpackers here, we saw only one backpack at the station - a change from town further North, only backpacks and young people. This a a rest stop for us before heading to Iguazu on Monday, a 21 hour bus ride in a large coach seat on the bottom of the bus. There are many old and interesting buildings in town and a lively center but not much else.

Tucuman is in the Andean Northwest region of Argentina. It's the smallest province of Argentina and is surrounded by Salta, Catamarca andSantiago del Estero provinces.
San Miguel de Tucumán (usually referred to as simply Tucumán) is the capital of the Tucumán Province, located in northern Argentina at 1,311 kilometres (815 mi) from Buenos Aires. It is the fifth biggest city of Argentina after Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Rosario and Mendoza, and it is also the most important city of Northern Argentina. It was founded in 1565 by Spanish Conquistador Diego de Villarroel during an expedition fromPeru, and was moved to its present site in 1685.
The main tourist section is right around the central plaza. Government buildings, old houses and churches abound. Two blocks south on Congreso Street lies the Casa Historica (historic house) where the Argentine independence act was signed. Inside, a small museum has artifacts from the colonial and revolutionary periods. Besides night action, the town itself has roughly speaking no outstanding features worthy a visit. What it is really valuable of Tucumán province is nature. Nicknamed "The Garden of the Republic", it is the ideal spot for those liking hicking, horse riding or mountain climbing. If one has the guts for getting out of the hitted path, coming into the rain forest or the highest peaks it is a must. Regretably the very locals are quite unconcious about this treasure, so they are not likely to recommend it. If you have a five days available, try "La Ciudacita" the southernmost ruins of the Inca empire; you will never forget it. Guides available.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Salta - Tren a las Nubes - Argentina, November 2, 2012

We are back in Salta, by bus from Tilcara on Oct. 31. Staying in hotel near railroad station (also food and party area). One day relaxing then the train ride and on Saturday Nov 3 on to Tucuman for 3 nights by bus. We already booked our trip to Iguazu, it will be Tucuman - Iguazu 21 Hours by sleeper coach, the times are good, leaving 11:330AM arriving 9:30AM in Iguazu.


The most amazing train in the world, the one that takes you to the clouds, reaches a height of 4,200 meters in its 217 km trip.
It is one of the highest railways in the world, taking its way across the high picks of the Cordillera de los Andes, surrounded by striking sceneries. The train departs from the city of Salta, passes through the Valle de Lerma, enters the Quebrada del Toro and finally reaches La Puna.
It takes its name Tren a las Nubes, from the clouds that are often seen under bridges and around slopes.
The number of spirals, viaducts, tunnels and other twists and turns that the train passes through arises from a decision made by the designer of this project, the US engineer Richard Maury. He took into account the principle of adhesion of train wheels to the railways and the laws of physics, ruling out the funicular system commonly used, so that the train may safely reach the expected heights. The train has no cogwheels, not even for the steepest slopes, since the railways are peculiarly arranged, running through a system of zigzags and spirals.

The train leaves from the General Belgrano station in the city of Salta, 1187 meters above the sea level, and ends its journey at the viaduct.

It leaves from the train station at the city of Salta and ends its route at La Polvorilla Viaduct.

The railways reach a height of 4,200 meters above sea level, turning this train into one of the highest in the world.

The train offers meals onboard, translator services, and medical assistant for any passenger that may be affected by the lack of oxygen caused by the height. The trip lasts approximately sixteen hours, from seven am until midnight or later. The train runs 217 km. and passes through 29 bridges, 21 tunnels, 13 viaducts, 2 spirals, and 2 zigzags.

There are two stops throughout the trip: one at San Antonio de los Cobres station, and the other one at La Polvorilla viaduct.
It leaves from the city of Salta, the lowest point, and from there it begins the upward route until it reaches the final point at La Polvorilla Viaduct, the highest in the trip. As you reach the different stations, local villagers at picturesque stands sell craftwork, clothes, and regional products as interesting souvenirs of the trip.

The train services include dining car, medical practice, audio, video, and bilingual guides.
Capacity: 468 passengers.  Speed: 35 km/h.

On board services:
Tourism information guide. One assistant per car.    Security personnel.    Medical assistance.    Nurses.

In German:

Zugreise in die Wolken
Touristisches Aushängeschild Saltas ist der "Tren a las Nubes", der "Zug in die Wolken". Er windet sich von der Hauptstadt aus an Schluchten vorbei durch Kakteenlandschaften, an deren Rändern Gletscherriesen wie der Nevado de Acay (5716 Meter) oder der Nevado de Chañí (5896 Meter) thronen. Das Ziel der 217 Kilometer langen Zugreise ist das Viadukt La Polvorilla auf 4220 Metern Seehöhe.
Auf dem Weg passiert der Zug, der wegen Konzessionsproblemen von 2005 bis 2008 nicht fahren konnte, 29  Brücken, 21 Tunnel und Behelfskonstruktionen wie "Zickzack-Weichen", ohne die manche Stelle nicht zu  meistern wäre. Ganz billig ist der Spaß nicht: Je nach Saison sind 120 bis 140 US-Dollar (95 bis 110 Euro) für die rund 16-stündige Tour zu berappen. Campingeinrichtungen gibt es in der Landschaft nicht, und von "wildem Zelten" wird dringend abgeraten.
190 Kilometer südlich von Salta liegt als weiteres Ausflugsziel die für die Torrontés-Weißweine berühmte
Kleinstadt Cafayate, wo zwei Campingplätze Übernachtungsmöglichkeiten bieten. Von hier sind es nur rund 40 Kilometer bis zu den berühmten, schon in der Provinz Tucuman gelegenen Ruinen der Befestigungsanlagen der Quilmes-Indianer.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Tilcara Humahuaca

Tilcara, Argentina
Heritage of Humanity
Tilcara Center
Arrived in Tilcara by one of the 10 – 15 daily buses that leave Salta for this northern route.
Of course about half of the bus was backpackers that also left at this town, the bus continues to the Bolivian border. We are here for a 3 night stay.
It is dry and high here – dust everywhere, it rains about 114 mm a year.
Many pre-Hispanic sites are around this town. Some can be reached by bus, car or hiking.
Pucara ruins is located within 1 mile and was a shelter for the Fiscara (local people) one fifth of the site has been reconstructed. 
We will be taking a bus trip to Humahuaca  for a day and return to Salta after that.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Salta, Argentina

Salta: Staying at Hotel:  Carpe Diem
Arrived on October 25th at 10:00PM about two hour late, the bus did not leave n time in Chile.
This was the most spectacular bus ride (10 hours) reaching 5,000 meters across the Andes. The city is hot but we have a great place to stay and relax. Will be on our way to Tilcare North 4 hours to visit some really old ruins and great landscape.

Salta is a city located in the Lerma Valley, at 1,152 meters (3780 feet) above sea level in the north west part of Argentina and it is also the name for the capital city of the Salta Province. Along with its metropolitan area, it has a population of 1,215,207 inhabitants according to the Digital Encyclopedia of Salta portaldesalta, which makes it the second most populated city in the northwest of the country. Within Argentina, Salta is the city which has preserved its colonial architecture the best.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bus Ride: San Pedro de Atacama - Salta

We are planning to take this bus ride after 5 nights at San Pedro de Atacama, right now  on October 25.

At border crossing

Salt Lagunes at 5,000 meters

The mountains at 5,000 meters

A Link to a great story and pictures of the trip San Pedro de Atacama to Salta
Click Here for the Story and Pictures

‘The Spectacular Bus Ride from San Pedro de Atacama to Salta’
Link to the Blog below from 
(a page from my Travel Journal)  Keith Jenkins
“Hurry, hurry…,” the man said to me, “the bus is leaving in a few minutes”. I was sure I was going to miss my bus to Salta. I arrived at the travel agency, as instructed when I bought my ticket, at 10:15am and to my horror, it was shut and there was no one around. I was already out of breath after the ten-minute walk from my hotel with my bloated suitcase and ditto hand luggage x 2 – at these high altitudes, everything required more energy. There was no one in sight and I had no idea what to do. A man walked out of a nearby shop and I asked him (in my best Spanish) about the bus. He hadn’t the slightest clue either but told me to check with the shopkeeper. I ran inside and the shopkeeper looked at his watch and shook his head. That was not a good sign, I thought. He gave me the directions to the bus station and shouted “Run, run” after me. I hauled my suitcase as fast and hard as I could over the rough-hewn cobblestone road which soon turned into a dirt road and prayed that I would make it. If I missed this bus, the next one to Salta was in three days and the whole village of San Pedro de Atacama was fully booked! I got to the bus station in the nick of time, leaving a cloud of dust behind me. The lady was standing at the door of the bus as I approached and she shouted, “Kehyt?” when she saw me and I nodded to the resemblance of my name and she signalled me to hop on right away. The bus left as soon as I was seated. Phew!
Volcan Licancabur (left)
The bus drove a few hundred meters and stopped and we had to get off to clear Chilean immigrations. When everyone was back on board, the bus continued on its journey…..and what a journey it was! If you’ve read my post on San Pedro de Atacama (‘A desert full of wonders) and seen the photos, you’d have an idea of the geography and geology of this region. Lunar landscapes, multi-coloured rock faces, gigantic volcanoes, dark blue lagoons, lush oases and towering sand dunes more or less sum it up. The 10-hour bus ride from San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, across the Andes, to Salta in northern Argentina brought us past all these features AND MORE! There were times, as I looked out the window, that I thought I was watching some sort of science fiction movie as the bus sped along, as the landscapes were so surreal, so unearthly.
Altiplano lagoon
Upon leaving San Pedro, the bus drove in an easterly direction along the flanks of the spectacular Volcan Licancabur, skirting the border with Bolivia. Up and up we went until we reached the Andean altiplano (Andean highland plateau). As we ascended the Andes, we were treated to awesome views of the Salar de Atacama (Atacama salt lake) and Volcan Licancabur. The scenery changed as we drove through the altiplano. This plateau, about 4,000m high, is a barren plain with just rocks, sand and prickly shrubs and surrounded on all sides by the brownish-red peaks of the Andes. It resembled the surface of Mars really. Absolutely amazing scenery.
Pink altiplano
At the end of the plateau, just as we thought we couldn’t get any higher, the bus embarked on another ascent which brought us to another plateau, about 4,500m high. The scenery kept getting more and more bizarre. While the earth on the previous plateau was ochre, here it was a reddish-pink colour with occasional traces of yellow, ochre and brown. As we cleared the mountains, the first of a series of stunning lagoons came into view. They were all in different colours, some green, some blue while some had white edges. We were already pretty high up in the Andes but another series of mountains awaited us! My breathing was getting heavier and heavier and I could feel my head start to pound. The American guy sitting next to me who was fast asleep woke up suddenly, gasping for air!
Salar Grande
The scenery changed again dramatically as we entered this last mountain range – this was the Paso de Jama (Jama Pass) into Argentina. We reached an altitude of about 5,000m before descending. The border control, where we stopped, was just beyond these mountains in the middle of nowhere. By this time, my head was spinning and I was desperately trying to focus on my breathing. The scenery was out-of-this-world but I couldn’t wait to get down to a place closer to sea-level! The bus continued on its journey through a barren plain and soon we reached the Salar Grande, a huge salt lake that was completely parched. I thought it looked like a magnificent work of art. The parched surface of the lake stretched out for miles into the distance.
At the end of the Salar Grande, another set of mountains came into view and soon we were climbing again. The road curled its way up into the mountains – the panoramas of the surrounding mountains and the altiplano below were just breathtaking (literally!) – and we were soon in the clouds. The visibility dropped to just a hundred meters approximately and the bus driver slowed down as we cleared the highest point…. and I was really thankful that he did. While the ascent was rather gradual, rather like a lazy curl up, the descent was steep and full of sharp hairpin bends.
Curly ascent
Every once in a while, gaps in the fog revealed the steep drop (at least a few hundred meters) beside the road!! This was the La Cuesta de Lipan or the Lipan Slope which is famous throughout the country; the road that was built to navigate this slope is considered an engineering marvel. And indeed it was. The road cut its way through the dramatic slopes in a series of hair-raising curves, giving us unbelievable views of the massive mountains with their incredible variety of green, grey, ochre and reddish hues. Absolutely stunning stuff! Far below us, we spotted verdant valleys and little adobe (mud-brick) huts. As we descended, the flora gradually changed from little shrubs to cacti.
Lipan slope
We soon arrived in the charming village of Purmamarca at the foot of the La Cuesta de Lipan. Purmamarca is a green oasis with many holiday homes and fruit orchards but it is most famous as the site of the Cerro de Siete Colores (Mountain of Seven Colours). We passed that stunning multi-coloured mountain (couldn’t quite count seven colours!) and soon discovered that the gigantic slopes of the mountains in this area all had those amazing stripes. Check out the photo and see if you can count seven colours!
Can you count seven colours?
We continued through the valley and, wonder of all wonders, it began to rain… a phenomenon I’d not experienced in a while! It took about 45 minutes to get to Jujuy (a large, rather uninteresting-looking town) from Pumamarca and then another hour to get to Salta. By this time, the scenery had changed dramatically. It was very green and inviting, even the mountains were covered with trees, and I spotted many palm trees along the way – indeed, certain areas of this region are classified as sub-tropical. It was a stark difference compared with the dry, inhospitable Atacama desert! Another good thing: we were a lot closer to sea-level which meant my breathing was back to normal and that pounding in my head started to subside.
That bus trip was probably the most spectacular I’ve ever experienced. The most amazing thing: the dramatic changes in the scenery kept me captivated for the most part of the almost ten-hour ride. I can certainly recommend this trip to anyone visiting this region.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

San Pedro de Atacama

 San Pedro de Atacama - Arrived by bus on Sunday morning October 21. A very warm and dry climate, nights are cool days are hot and the town is 9,000 feet high it takes a bit to get used to. Walked to our hotel, just around the corner, and explored the town. This is a young people town, most are backpackers and in the 20 - 30's. No big tour groups but you hear a lot of German and many South Americans travel here. We made reservations for three trips (1/2 day each) and will be taking off for Salta on Thursday, a 10-11 hour trip by bus going over the Anndes at about 4,200 meters or 13,000 feet.

 San Pedro de Atacama is a town in Northern Chile. It's a very popular destination among Chilean tourists and international visitors alike. Visitors come in large numbers, to use the town as a stepping stone to the amazing landscapes around it. Most attractions are part of the Los Flamencos National Reserve, perhaps Chile's most varied and amazing national park. Prices in any of the laid back bars and restaurants fare well against Santiago's (Chile's Capital). Still, it's a fairly expensive location, as it's one of Chile's three most popular destinations, along Torres del Paine and Easter Island.

Visiting an old 1,000 years+ village covered by sand. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

San Pedro de Atacama - Attractions, Tours


San Pedro de Atacama: Tours of Atacama area (Trip Advisor)

Around San Pedro are several world-class natural sights, and they are best visited with an organized tour.  Renting a vehicle can be expensive, gas is about 7 US $ a gallon, distances are great, and some roads are not easy to navigate (dirt roads, rough surfaces, etc.) .  The majority of visitors do choose to visit the Valley of the Moon, the huge "Salt plain", the lagoons, the flamingo preserves, the Tatio geysers, and picturesque villages of the area with one of the many tour companies offering services in San Pedro.  Of the many choices, I can fully recommend an outfit called "Cosmo Andino" tours (it has a well deserved good reputation among local people).
Cosmo Andino's office staff are thourough and informative, their tours are never cancelled in the last minute, their guides are competent bi-lingual tourleaders, and their drivers are conservative and timely.  The tours are operated by Mercedes minibuses (I believe 16 seaters) and the group is never too big for personal attention.  Lastly, they do not take shortcuts and every tour covers all described sights and more.  Class operation, no doubt.
Allow about three to four days to cover the major sights.  Do not underestimate the hot climate, the altitude discomfort, and the rather dusty and sandy conditions.  Take your precautions (plenty of liquids, sunscreen, hat, time to acclimate) and do not push yourself too hard in the first day.  The Cosmo Andino office staff will indeed explain to you the conditions and prepare you for full enjoyment of the Atacama area.
Trekking through San Pedro de Atacama Town
Half day
The trip begins in the San Pedro square, in where is possible to visit the church, Padre Le Peige archaeological museum, and the Municipality soon to go into in the commercial street of the town in where are tourists worldwide and villagers of the sector. All this is made in a very relaxed and calm atmosphere.
San Pedro de Atacama is a small town constructed in adobe by the first Spaniards arrived at the region, after 1550 year, keeping its architecture and typical space organization since then.
The checkerboard with its parallel layouts and a central square, in front of the Town hall, is the typical spanish construction from where the civilian authorities is exerted, conserving its typical institutional arcs, those that recently were reconstructed from the drawings of the time. In one side of the square the old centennial church is located with heavy mud walls, wood cactus ceiling covered by mud. It is the heart of the oasis bathed by waters of San Pedro and Vilama rivers, that lower from the foot of the Andes mountain range, at not more than 40 Kilometers of distance, creating deep bunkruptcy.
It is part of the Hispanic history with the passage of Diego de Almagro in 1536 and Pedro de Valdivia in 1540, being baptized like Atacama La Grande. The industrial development in the coast, during XIX century, extended the commercial perspective. From 1830 to 1870 the population handled the commerce (with llamas and mules). From 1870 the population turned upside down to the work of mines in Caracoles, in 1890 and 1925, an intense traffic of cattle occurs.
The town is small and with narrow streets; its construction is of adobe and cactus wood. San Pedro de Atacama, capital of the commune, is located to 2,400 m.s.n.m. and empashize by its architectonic beauty and by the archaeological value that it has. It was declared Typical Zone in 1980.

Atacama Saltlake  Half day
It is a depression of 3,000 kilometers without exit of waters that receives San Pedro river and a lot of bankruptcy by which wateris filtered from the Andes Mountain. It is the greater saline deposit of Chile. Its cover is white and rough, stained by fine dust of the desert.

During our passage we will visit the Toconao town located at 2,475 meters of altitude. It is an oasis, in where people cultivate all type of fruits. In front of its square is located the Church and Bell tower of San Lucas, declared National Monument.

It occupies an extension of 100 kilometers in length by 80 of wide. The salt is product of the underground water outcrop that, saturated of salts, evaporates leaving scabs rich in salt and minerals. The rivers fed by Andean snows, cross the area allowing the configuration of multiple oasis. This it is the scene where the atacameñan culture was developed.

The air is extraordinarily dry here, which gives it a perfect transparency. The salt scab has been opened to leave space to small lagoons that are favorite habitat of aquatic birds, particularly Flamingoes, Taguas and Guallatas. The most important is the Chaxa lagoon.

The Atacama saltlake is located in the center of the most barren desert of the world. Many salt fields of and salt lakes are abundant in this place. It is well - known by its strong winds due to the proximity the Pacific Ocean and the Andes mountain.

We will continue our way by the great Atacama salt which account with around 12,000 km2 of surface of immense beauty.

We will have the opportunity to admire the great variety of flamingoes and migratory birds that have found in the enormous salt their natural habitat; these birds give a very peculiar atmosphere to the sector.

Here we will be able to find a great amount of salt noninferior to the ocean salt; this phenomenon creates a great amount of life to diverse animals like reptils, insects and birds which has to us prepared a great surprise in this peculiar place full of fantasies.

To finalize this trip we will admire a spectacular sunset, enjoying the silence and the peace that the salt offers us.

Valle de la Luna Half day
It is located in the Salt mountain range, to the west of San Pedro and the south of the new highway. The Moon Valley is an interesting area of formation of stone and sand. Declared Sanctuary of the Nature it comprises of Los Flamencos National Reserve. Located inside the Salto mountain range Located to 13 kilometers to the west of San Pedro de Atacama. The valley receives this name due to the great similarity of the place to the mole landscapes.
We will begin our excursion visiting the enormous enormous geologic formation, which are located in one of the most barren zones of the planet. It is an area of great beauty that resembles the mole landscape by the stone formation, petrified salt and sand, that during millenia, floods and winds have molded to its way.
Surprise yourself with the enormous figures of salt and clay constructed with the pass of the years and the wind, we will have the opportunity to know "Las tres Marias" figures with unique beauty that can be photographed and contemplated by a long time.
Finally we will visit the wonderful caverns of the salt accompanied by the imposing Licancabur volcano, once again to be surprised by the great magic of the desert, specially of the valley in where we will have the opportunity to enjoy the most beautiful sunset that our eyes never will be able to forget.
Briefly, impressive forms product of the successive transformations of the terrestrial crust, offer the aspect of a true mole landscape.
There is not life in this valley, neither humidity, turning it the most inhospitable place of the planet.
There is not to lose the sunset, due to it is unforgettable.
When the sun sinks, it is painting pie tones the edges of hills and defiles, while the wind blows among the rocks and the sky pass from pink color to purple and finally black.
Without a doubt it is one of main attractive of San Pedro de Atacama, visited by hundreds of tourists year by year, which are really surprised by its singular and unique beauty incomparable to any place.

Altiplanic Lagoons  Full day
Our trip begins with the ascent to 2,400 meters of height, with which we will reach a peak altitude of 4200 meters in the Andes Mountain; due to the enormous summits that the mountain offers in this place we will feel inserted in an enormous valley surrounded by gigantic hills.
During the route we will descry a great amount of animals like vicunas, alpacas, foxes, ñandues, flamingoes, vizcachas and a great variety of ducks.
Once reached our goal we will be in front of altiplanics lagoons Miscanti that in its blue waters reflects the white snow that covers the top of the mountains and Miñiques, located at the foot of beautiful volcanos. Miscanti and Miñique are located between the same hills name to an altitude of 4,100 and 4,350 meters respectively. In addition to the existence of flamingoes, the fauna is made up of tagua cornuda, juarjual ducks, chorlos de la puna, playeros Baird and dunces. This landscape is unique of San Pedro and it is not in other places of the world.
These lagoons are one of the 7 sectors that conform Los Flamencos National Reserve. They are located to 18 kilometer to the south of Socaire town.
The peak altitude of the sector is of 5,910 meters respectively. The landscape is characterizes by volcanos and mountainous relief, standing out Miscanti and Miñiques hills. In the lagoons inhabit species like: Tagua Cornuda, Chilean flamingo, Caití, Playero de baird, Chorlo de la Puna, Juarjual duck and the Guallata. The flora is compound mainly of the Llareta and the Paja Brava.
In the bordering sectors archaeological sites of great cultural and artistic importance exist.
When arriving at the Talar salts we will be surprised again by the wonderful turquoise color of the waters in the Tuyajto lagoon, these colors will call our attention due to its unusual location and great natural beauty.

Archaeological Tour  Half day
You can know the beginning of the valuable atacameñan culture; visiting places of great archaeological importance such as the Tulor town of more than 2800 years of antiquity. The archaeology without a doubt is a source important to know the old dimension of this oasis of Atacama, since when it began to be occupied by the man.
The priest Gustavo Le Paige was who in 1958 identified the first rest of the Village of Tulor, located to 6 kilometers to the south of San Pedro de Atacama, investigation that was extended by the archaeologist Ana Maria Baron in 1980. This singular crossed is guided by the settlers of the place who took to us to revive the beginnings and the first inhabitants of San Pedro de Atacama. Tulor is a village constructed directly on the argillaceous ground in the zone of water-drainage of the San Pedro river, which with the time was buried by the advance of the desert.
On the feet of imposing Licancabur volcano with more than 5.900 meters of height, the greater existing height of the town, history and modernity are joined. With an antiquity of 11mil years approximately, the culture of San Pedro de Atacama, received different influences in its evolution stage of the diverse American cultures, such as Tiwanaku, which was developed to the feet of the Titicaca lake of Bolivia, Inca, which extended his dominions from Peru to the central zone of Chile, the Aymara and finally the Spanish conquerors.
Later we will visit the well-known atacameñan fort Pukará de Quitor, which was constructed in XII century, the rest of Pukará de Quitor show us the great social organization of the atacameñans ancestors front to the Spanish conquerors. To an altitude of 2440 meters of height and to 3 kilometers of San Pedro de Atacama, is this pre-incaica fort which embrace a surface of 2,5 hectares. These ruins are located at the foot of a small hill offered it a strategic position to the sector. The constructions were done with stone and adobe.
Finally we will visit the town of Catarpe, which must its importance to have being the administrative center constructed by the incas dominion, the reason for this center was to give to know the traditions of the sun empire in San Pedro de Atacama and to collect taxes.

Tatio Geysers  Full day
Geysers del Tatio (Tatio Geysers) is a geothermal field located in the Andes mountain range. The fumaroles of these geysers, the highest of the world (4,300 mts), are produced by the high temperatures of their watery craters and offer a unique spectacle of the Chilean desert.
We begin our very early excursion to arrive at the heights of the Andes mountain range surrounded by great mountains with a evening that allows to observe great steam fumaroles and burning mud craters, originating of the entrails of the Earth, product of underground hot water rivers that generate El Tatio volcano.
Later we will participate in one of the greater and more spectacular phenomenos than the nature offers us; a full scene of colors with special beauty that is produced by the great amount of steam which the geysers have. We will have time to obtain one of the most valuable photographies when crossing freely the geothermal fields of the place.
Ending the day we will have the opportunity to take a reconfortante bath from thermal and mineral waters that El Tatio offers. We will undertake our return bordering the spectacular Andes mountain range admiring the great amount of animals and typical plants of the altiplano.

Santiago, Chile the starting point.

October 16, 2012 - Arrived with no problems at 9:00AM at the airport - 9 hours Dallas to Santiago, 2.5 hours Chicago - St.Louis - Dallas, a long flight but OK. No problem getting Taxi and getting to our Hotel (IBIS) at the Central Bus Station. Not ready to check in, went for bus tickets to San Pedro de Atacama - 25 hours, TUR Bus only one that goes direct (with stops). Have sleeping seats on bus, ($100/person for trip). We have Hotel in San Pedro reserved. Out of San Pedro need to make  reservations in San Pedro - 10 hours to Salt going 4,500 meter high over the Andes.
When in Chile eat like a German!
Lunch at the Market
Human Rights Museum Santiago

On day one also went to Paraguay Consulate - of course the office moved (30 minute Metro ride out of town), we made it there (know the area from our last stay in Santiago). $65 and two passport pictures for the visa - deposit money in account and come back tomorrow. So today, day two, we are on the way to Providencia, the suburb of Santiago, to get visa. Come in morning pick up visa in afternoon they tell me.
Weather is in high 70's during day, or warmer nights are fresh.
Spent the morning and Lunch to get my visa from the Paraguay consulate (OK!) and then Lunch in La Providencia, a nice place but it feels like being in the States a mixture of Naperville and Oakbrook, many high rise apartment buildings, Office buildings, Stores and Restaurants with prices equal the States.
Spending time in Santiago and getting ready for the trip to San Pedro de Atacama.
Lunch at the Market and Human Rights Museum.
Spring time in Santiago, can be hot or cold but always hazy.
What do I remember of Santiago is:

Stores are busy, People are busy and working, no beggars on the streets, clean street, street sweepers everywhere, Newspaper Stands, Ice Cream eating anytime, Sidewalk Vendors, Newspaper Stands, No dress code, Cell Phones, Smoking,   Stretch pants on everyone (Ooh-No Oh-Yes), Tight Jeans everywhere (Oh-No, Oh-Yes!), Homeless-sleepy dogs on sidewalk, Hot Dogs and Hamburgers with lots of Mayonnaise and Avocado, Expensive ($US 2 coffee, $ 4-5 Beer), Not very good food (anywhere), crowded Subways and streets, Police walking streets.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

Planning Cities, Parks, Sites, Transportation

Cities to stop in and to see, Parks to visit, Hotels / Hostels to stay,
Restaurants / Sites to visit and transportation to take.
This is a tentative list.
Hostel Trail
Lonely Planet
World Travel Guide

Rio de Janeiro

In Rio, Margarida's Pousada, well located in Ipanema (and about the same as a private room in a hostel),

San Pedro de Atacama
1San Pedro de Atacama  
2San Pedro de Atacama

San Juan

San Luis


Quebrada de Humahuaca Link 1 Link2

Puerto Iguazú
Parque Nacional Iguazú Link1 Link2

Planning Trip Map

Trip Map