Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Northern Chile - Arica

Tim: We crossed into Arica, Chile from Tacna, Peru without issue. The process was simple. We jumped on a collectivo (shared taxi) for about $10 USD each. The driver drove us an 3 other people to the Peruvian boarder crossing, then continued on to the Chilean boarder crossing before dropping us off at the main bus station in Arica. Arica is on the beach; the area is very arid and sandy with very few trees or plants of any kind.

Our guest house was called Hostel Sunny Days. It was owned by an older man from New Zealand who was very friendly and accommodating. The cost of hostels is much more expensive in Chile than it was in Peru. The most we ever paid for a room in Peru was around $30 USD.  Our first night in Chile cost $40 USD. Even with the additional expensive the property was nicer than most we stayed at in Peru. The complimentary breakfast was very good. The free breakfast in Peru was often simple bread with margarine and jam along with tea or coffee.

Our guesthouse provided free use of boogie boards which Amber and I used for two days. We enjoyed the beach which was fairly undeveloped.

Chile is two hours ahead of Peru even though the two countries are about on the same longitude. Chile is even an hour ahead of Bolivia which is significantly more to the east. As a result it doesn't get light in Arica till 8 am and sunset was not until 8 PM. This made for some nice evening strolls. This also put the heat of the day at around 5 PM. We enjoyed the beach so much that we both got pretty bad sunburn.

One of our days in Arica we chose to go on a tour of the distant Lauca National Park. The highlight was a beautifully formed snowy volcano with a lovely high altitude lake at the base. The drive took us from 0 feet to over 15,000 feet in 4 hours.

Our original plan was to stay in Arica only one or two nights, but we ended up staying for 4 nights. We liked the well equipped kitchen at the hostel that allowed us to cook for ourselves from the local market. Produce was cheap so we bought lots of avocado and mango. We even made delicious fajitas to evenings in a row.

Amber:  Tim and I loved our 45 days in Peru, but we were excited to experience another South American country; Chili!  And after retiring my passport and getting a brand new one for this trip, I was excited to get more stamps in my new, shiny, very empty passport!  After being inland a lot in Peru, we enjoyed the sun and water in Erika, perhaps too much!  Both of us should have known better considering how very sunburned we got our first day of buggy boarding.  It was just too nice to be in the ocean, and we were having too much fun!

The tour to the Lauca National Park was a day long bus ride with many stops at very touristy road side shops.  Everyone but Tim and I were delighted to purchase Llama wool hats, alpaca sweaters, and other nick nacks.  We had seen our fill in Peru, and really just wanted to get to the beautiful park.  We finally arrived, and after viewing the absolutely gorgeous snow capped volcano perched right next to a crystal blue lake for about 30 minutes (calendar page for sure for my silly yearly calendar!!) our tour boarded back onto our bus, and we drove back to Erica. Wish we could have skipped all the stops and gone hiking, but oh well.  The photos were amazing!!

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