Alan and I were both heading in the direction of Santiago but had no idea which towns to stop in on the way there and neither of us were keen on doing the 24 hour bus ride in one go.

I got out my huge map of South America and Alan got out the Lonely Planet and we found a couple of towns that looked quite nice on the coast of Chile that we thought might be worth checking out.

The first place that sounded nice was Bahia Inglesa. To get there we needed to take a 10 hour bus ride, via Calama where we changed buses and then to Caldera where we took a 15 minute taxi ride to Bahia Inglesa. The bus just dropped us on the side of the road at about 7am and we had no idea where we were so it was lucky that a cab came past not long after.

Bahia Inglesa is a tiny town that apparently gets quite busy in summer when Chilean vacationers take up residency, however it seemed like we were the only people there at this particular time. There was a beautiful little beach and when the sun came out in the afternoons it was quite warm.

We thought since we were on the beach we had to go swimming so we headed on down, jumped in, nearly had a heart attack it was so freezing and then went home. Good fun!

The beach front is lined with restaurants but most of them were shut at this time of year but we managed to find a place where we could get a glass of red wine and a dessert after dinner.

The next day we headed back to Caldera to organise a bus to our next stop, La Serena. Another six hour bus ride and we arrived at about 10:30pm and eventually found the hostel recommended to us by Lonely Planet – El Hibisco.

La Serena is another lovely beach town , with a population of about 150,000. We ended up staying three nights and two days and in that time strolled along the beach, had a look at the Chinese garden, the Arqueologico museum and the zoo in the local park and generally just wandered around the streets. It was a really nice town and the weather was great while we were there, so we spent quite a bit of time just lazing around in the sun.

Next stop Santiago.