Mendoza, Argentina


The trip from Santiago to Mendoza was an 8-hour bus ride over the Andes with the border crossing high up in the mountains. We’d been told that it was spectacular and worth doing during daylight hours, which is what we did and I’m very glad. The views were just amazing! Driving up through the mountains with snow covered peaks on either side of the road was unreal.

After the border crossing we descended to the other side and into the flat valleys of Mendoza where 70 % of the country’s wine is produced.

The next day we spent wandering around the town of Mendoza, hanging out in the Parque General San Martin and browsing Mercado Central to pick up some goodies for lunch among the vineyards the next day.

In the morning, Alan, our new friend Dan and I caught a local bus to Maipu where all the vineyards are located. We rented bikes from Mr Hugo’s and we were off. Throughout the day we visited around 4-5 bodegas (wineries) and a liqueria (where Alan decided to try a tobacco flavoured liquor – surprise, surprise, it was disgusting).

The wines we tried were mainly Cabinet Sauvignon and Malbec (which I’ve decided is my new favourite wine). The vineyards were all lovely and after paying a small entry price were happy to let us try a generous amount of wine (which we of course spat out like proper wine connoisseurs – NOT!!)

We had a delicious picnic lunch at one of the vineyards which consisted of cheese, prosciutto, crackers, strawberries and chocolate, and was well accompanied by a bottle of the winery’s Cabinet Sauvignon.

At the end of the day we bought a bottle of wine and went and sat among the vines to enjoy the last of the days sun before heading back to the bike hire place (a little wobbly on our bikes) where they supplied us with more wine until well into the night.

Now, I must warn anyone who thinks this sounds like a sophisticated day among the vineyards that it definitely was no stroll in the park. I think we probably ended up riding over 20 kilometers during the day, most of the roads are badly sign posted and a couple of the vineyards weren’t open when we got there. However, it was one of those truly unique experience that only South America can provide and I can honestly say that it has been one of the highlights of the trip so far.

Thanks to Alan (or Al-baby as he is to be known forthwith) and Dan for a great day and for not leaving the slow girl behind too much.

Looking a little worse for wear at the end of the day.


San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

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After leaving the salt flats tour group I jumped on a bus which took me to the border of Bolivia and Chile. In the line for immigration I met an English guy called Alan who seemed to be the only English speaking person in the area (although he does speak Spanish rather well also) which was a relief because my Spanish is still pretty ordinary. After immigration and customs it was only a few minutes on the bus before we arrived in San Pedro de Atacama.

Alan and I decided to seek out a hostel that had been recommended to me by my friend Ed in La Paz, it was a bit out of the way and therefore cheaper. For once I followed his directions well and we came a across hostel Cabur.

It is a quiet place with a nice shady courtyard, a hammock and a fireplace in the evenings. After three days in the desert I enjoyed a nice hot shower and then we headed back into town to check out the main attractions – and of course we found the pub where a futbol match between Chile and Spain was about to commence.

San Pedro is a peaceful town that caters solely for tourists. It is only small and is made up of restaurants, tour agencies and Internet cafes.

There are an abundance of tours you can do, mainly involving lagunas and geysers, however we felt we’d seen enough of those on our Salar tour so we opted for sand boarding in the Death Valley instead.

I was pretty worried I was going to hurt myself (especially after Will stacked it in Huacachina) but it was really fun and when I did stack it I didn’t hurt myself – just got absolutely covered in sand! Only bad thing was having to trek back up the hill to come down again.

Alan showing off his mad skills.

After the sand boarding we went to a lookout point so we could watch the sunset over the Atacama desert. The landscapes there are just amazing, they look like something from Mars, red dirt that has formed into rugged hills and gullies and then surrounded by the ever present Andes on one side and another mountain range on the other.

I also went stargazing at the observatory of a French astronomer where I learnt about all he different zodiac constellations and the makeup of our galaxy. I absolutely froze but it was really interesting.

We ended up staying four days and three nights in San Pedro and didn’t really do all that much, which was kinda nice. Alan had to srt out flights and I wanted to get my blog up to date but apart from that we just cooked for ourselves and hung around in the hammock in the hostel. It was lovely!

(Sorry about the lack of photos of San Pedro, I was a little bit lazy in this town as you can probably tell.)

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