Pacific island ‘hopping’ – Easter Island

Easter Island sunset

Easter Island sunset

We arrive in Easter island from Santiago on our first of many hops (well leaps) across the Pacific on our way to Australia and Asia. 3700km off mainland Chile, a 6 hour flight, part of Chile, Spanish name Isla de Pascua, indigenous name Rapa Nui, the same name given to the indigenous Polynesian population and local language.The population of 6700 live in the one peaceful, pretty town of Hanga Nui – with one main street and a handful of shops and cafes, mostly Rapa Nui people, though an increasing number of mainland Chilean people have settled here too. .


Chilean Lakes and Volcanoes

Part 2 of our final two weeks in South America, as we hot foot it back to Santiago from the deep south with a plane to catch that we`re keen not to to alter for a third time….

Lakes and Volcanoes 

We’re up early on our fourth and final morning aboard ‘Evangelista’, to pack, have a final breakfast, disembark and get a taxi to the Croatia Apart Hotel, Puerto Montt. We have had a fabulous time cruising the Chilean Fjords on the Navimag ferry.

Patricio, the friendly taxi driver who takes us agrees to come back in an hour to take us for a tour around Llanquihue Lake (the second biggest lake in South America) Petrohue falls & Calbuco Volcano, and visit some German villages – we shower up quickly and head off. We have great day with him even though the weather is rubbish! He is a super guide and by day’s end we feel we have another lifelong friend! We see waterfalls dropping over volcanic rock just 144 yrs old, go up the volcano Calbuco as far as the snow for a snowball fight and pick up some volcanic rock samples!


day of adventure around Puerto Montt

A day of adventure around Puerto Montt


A Chile Easter and Chile`s Fjords

Map of Chile from CIA World Factbook. Category...

Map of Chile  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Finally, the last instalments of our nine months in South America are ready to share, as we hot foot it back to Santiago from the deep south. With around 3000km to travel two thirds of the length of the most slender country in the world through fjords, volcanoes, lakes and national parks flanked by the Pacific and the Andes, and with a plane to catch in just over two weeks that we`re keen not to to alter for a third time!

This is Part One – in which we bus overland from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales then cruise on the Navimag ferry through the Chilean fjords to Puerto Montt…..

We arrive back from the Falklands to Punta Arenas in Chile’s deep south Patagonia on the day before Easter. The children would have loved the flight to have been cancelled again as it was on the way out as we would have got `stuck` in the Falklands for Easter Sunday, but it wasn’t to be! .

Views from Navimag, day 2, cruising through the Chilean fjords

Views from Navimag, day 2, cruising through the Chilean fjords


The 1907 Iquique Massacre and my continued awe of the world wide web!

In La Serena, Chile, we found this attractive looking memorial and were interested to see it was in memory of a massacre on 21-12-1907 (it happened to be 100 years to the day before Lara was born) of workers, women and children at a school in Iquique, further north between La Serena and Arica where Erika had visited. We wondered why it was here in La Serena and what happened?

The Iquique Massacre memorial in La Serena

The Iquique Massacre memorial in La Serena

We made a mental note, took the photo and planned to Google it. More

Speeding south through La Serena to Santiago

Chile. 11 February 2013.
Seven months today since we flew to South America to begin our family gap year and we arrive in La Serena, Chile, our first taste of coastal Chile, on a rather uncomfortable, but bearable 16 hour overnight bus south from Calama, dropping down 2400m from the heights of the Atacama desert. We’ve finally escaped San Pedro and the floods having missed all the amazing trips we’d hoped to do and having to head back through Calama, seeing evidence of where the road was washed right away as the bus queues to get around the missing carriageway.

Th San Pedro to Calama road is washed away

Th San Pedro to Calama road is washed away

The challenge of how to cross the Andes to Argentina

The challenge of how to cross the Andes to Argentina

Plan A had been to take a bus from San Pedro to Salta – we’d even bought our tickets but got a refund when we knew the pass was going to be closed at least a week due to snow. Plan B is to try our luck with the pass from La Serena to Mendoza.

We had ‘semi-cama’ seats (meaning half-bed). Not exactly what I’d call a half bed but they do recline quite well – and are smart by the standards we’re used to. The kids and Martin (sleep anywhere) slept happy enough –  Erika and I found it a bit tough and feel stiff and sleep deprived! ‘Cama’ is a bigger, better recliner, often in the downstairs with semi-cama upstairs. We’re looking forward to trying cama! Maybe next time!


Flooded in San Pedro de Atacama (the desert!)

We survived our 2 nights in Calama or ’Calamity’ as our friends named it after losing an iPhone. We actually stayed in the same apartment but were super careful not to leave anything. It seems that forgetting an item in a hotel room is like leaving a tip for the cleaners. Only a few days ago Mo left a fleece and socks in Hotel Magia in Uyuni, we went back to ask and were told to return in an hour. Only later we discovered the fleece had several ‘personal’ items in the pockets as it had no doubt been keeping someone else warm! Still, good outcome as we’d had a dispute about the already expensive bill which they’d tried to double! The socks were ’thrown away’, we returned the favour with their ‘pawn’ on a USB drive. (post script – missing socks found in Mo’s dirty washing bag!).

For a booming mining town the Calama centre is pretty strange. More

Back to Chile after 21 years

4th February 2013. Our bus from Uyuni in Bolivia to Calama in Chile leaves at 4am so we are up at 3am to get out of ‘El Salvador’, our less than salubrious hostal. My suggestion of just going for a late dinner and and crashing on a park bench hadn’t been met by much (any) enthusiasm and our 3 bed, £9.50 room with rather basic facilities was a bit of a climb down from the 4* Salt Hotel the day before. I am quietly satisfied that BZL share beds and sleep on the floor with few complaints, better to view a comfy bed as a luxury to be appreciated rather than an entitlement that the loss of ruins your day.

The Bolivian Chilean border

The Bolivian Chilean border

We are out the door at 3.29am to cross the road to the bus office, very glad that another gap year lesson of not unpacking everything each time you stop seems to be hitting home. ’Lazy Lara’ yet again refuses to carry her rucksack, no excuse as it only weighs 2.5kg, kind Dad having swapped her clothes for the kids life jackets. 2 years ago she carried a far heavier one in Cambodia like a trooper. I think the problem is a combination of being the youngest and a touch spoiled plus her force of nature personality that means she generally gets her own way and pushes the boundaries. Maybe I am a bit cynical (moi?) but I think she has worked out that ’Mummy, I’m tired’ is a great way of getting your bag, and often Lara, carried! One to work on.

The 12ish hour journey with Trans Azul has cost us 750 Bolivianos or £14/head (interestingly the ticket says 700BS so the lady in the bus office has made a quick 50BS, about half a day’s salary, I bet she loves this job!).


Flat Stanley Lost in the Desert

10/2/13. We’ve been in San Pedro for a few days! We’re stranded!! It’s a small town with everything built of mud and straw bricks, some buildings are painted white and its very dusty!

San Pedro is not meant for rain!

We were going to go and see some geysers high up in the mountains near the Bolivia border, float and swim in hot pools and salty lagoons, then take a bus into northern Argentina but then, on the first afternoon, it started to rain. There was lightening and the loudest thunder we ever heard! We were in our apartment at the hostel and water started to pour under the door!


Nine months, nine countries – South America in photos and stats!

11th April 2013. Nine months today since our family of five touched down in Rio de Janeiro on a BA flight from Heathrow, London to begin our Family Gap Year travelling around the world.

Our journey so far…

We’ve almost done a (kind of squashed) figure of 8 around the continent, flown or boated to islands in the Pacific and Atlantic and are now in Santiago, enjoying our last days before flying to Easter Island (part of Chile) and then on to Tahiti in French Polynesia.

Nine months, Nine countries. Our Family Gap Year journey so far...

Nine months, Nine countries. Our Family Gap Year journey so far…

We’ve been to More

Flat Stanley’s Andes Adventure

Flat Stanley has travelled with me in South America for eight months now…..

We said goodbye to Miss Jane, Mrs M and Miss Place at the end of year 2, last July, spent our summer hopping around in Brazil , journeyed the length of the Amazon to Columbia, Peru and the Napo River to Ecuador!

We took a bus way up into the Andes Mountains to Quito, the capital of Ecuador, where we learned Spanish and then flew out to the Galápagos Islands.

Quito and Waterfall near Otavalo, Ecuador

You might remember these photos in Quito and at a waterfall near Otavalo, Ecuador


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