After my 3 day trip in the middle of nowhere FREEZING Bolivia I arrived in San Pedro de Atacamas Chile. The border crossing was built in between two mountains which were at VERY high altitude, just walking onto the bus that would take us to Chile was painful! I almost got frost bite just from the 5 minutes I was outside. As soon as we crossed the border the bus went onto a freshly paved road with white lines down the middle. It hit me then…I couldn´t remember the last time I was on a decent paved road.
Once we got to the town we realized it´s very expensive (especially just coming from Bolivia) so we decided to eat lunch there and then take a bus for Santiago. I started to notice other BIG differences during my time in the small town. I think this was the biggest culture shock I have gone through on my whole trip. People were fit and well dressed. The ladies were wearing make-up! I was coming from not showering in 4 days wearing all the clothes I own in my bag, no make-up. As soon as we got to the restaurant to eat I went in the bathroom and took off a couple layers of clothing. Guess what I noticed…Toilet paper in the bathrooms, but the biggest surprise…hand soap! I hadn´t seen hand soap in sooo long.
A couple quirks about S.P. de Atacames… If you are wanting to cross into Argentina from there, you must take a bus which only comes every 2 days, my friends who I was traveling with found out the hard way and missed the bus by an hour. The other thing which I found quite unhelpful was the fact that all the ATM machines were closed until 4 pm. That didn´t do us any good because we had a bus to catch at 2pm. Luckily in Chile they take VISA! First country in a while that I could actually use my visa card.
From S.P de A. to Santiago was a 24 hour bus ride. Fortunately I got a special promotion and ended up paying $72 dollars for a VIP room. This made my journey a LOT more comfortable especially since I had really bad effects from the altitude because we were coming down from the altitude so quickly.
Chileans are extremely friendly, they are always willing to help you and are always curious as to where you are from. Although this was my first country where I felt like I didn´t stand out, the Chileans can still tell ;)
Chile is a very developed country, once I arrived to Santiago I took a taxi and found my hostel no problem. I was lucky because my brother ended up having a contact in Santiago and I ended up staying with this amazing lady for 2 weeks.
Chile was one of the most expensive countries I have been too. Although Santiago was quite cold…I´m talking 10 degrees cold…I really enjoyed the city. Santiago has one of the nicest metro systems I have ever seen. It´s new but very clean and safe.
I visited Valparaiso which is a UNESCO world heritage site, to be honest… it didn´t impress me as much I it receives credit for. The buildings are beautiful colors and the graffiti on the walls are nice, but it´s actually not really that safe. They have “little boy gangs“ that like to rob people so you always have to watch out.
I personally enjoyed Vina del Mar more. It is only 15 minutes away from Valparaiso, but it just had a better feel to me.
Chile was great, lots of travelers that I met in other countries all skipped over Chile because they either weren´t really interested or thought it was too expensive.
I´m really glad that I went and saw Chile for myself. Having the place to stay made my trip in Chile a lot more affordable, but even so, I think it is worth seeing. I would recommend traveling to Chile during their summer time though because in winter IT GETS COLD! And this is coming from a Canadian.
My next stop was Mendoza Argentina, to get there I had to take a bus through the Andes. This was supposed to be a 6 hour journey…It ended up being an extra day and 12 hours.
I bought my bus ticket the day before we were scheduled to leave…We packed our bags and said our goodbyes. It was nice because the metro takes you right to the bus terminal. As we sat and waited for our bus we decided to buy as much snacks as we could to get rid of the extra Chilean pesos we had in our pockets. Once successfully emptying our pockets, we notice it´s only 5 minutes until our bus is scheduled to leave and it was still not there. This is when I asked the counter and guess what they tell me…The border is closed due to snow, no buses are going through today. SUCH A ROOKIE traveler mistake!
I had heard sooo many stories of people getting stuck in either Mendoza or Santiago for a week to 2 weeks because they close the border all the time during winter. We changed our tickets for the next day and hoped that the border would open. We then had to scramble some money together, buy another metro card and take our bags all the way back to the house where I was staying. The next morning…I called. It was open so we did the whole thing over again.
Things to know about Chile…You tip for EVERYTHING, you even tip the man putting your bag in the bus, so its always good to have spare change with you.
Also- Drink as much Chilean wine as possible…It´s super cheap and sooo good :)
All in all, I really enjoyed Chile, lots more to discover there.
Ok havent been blogging in a while, but my excuse is because I have been going going going for a while now! Bolivia was one of my favorite countries that I have been to so far. I think the fact that I knew nothing about Bolivia really added to the adventure and the great surprises. Bolivia is extremely poor, it costs you nothing, so buy buy buy in Bolivia! I found La Paz to be kind of a depressing city, it was great for shopping for souviners but nothing more.
We then took a bus to Coachabamba because we were told it was warmer weather than La Paz. It was, but not by much. Coachabamba has a huge Cristo statue and its pretty to take the Gondola to go see it, other than that its a nice quiet city but really not much to see. I felt the same about Sucre. It has a huge French influence there so it had some great resturants and a nice Plaza.
One of my favorite places was Tupiza, it is known for its great horseback riding. We booked a tour and it cost us 30 Bolivianos per hour, that worked out to be 5 dollars! So cheap and it was a beautiful ride amongst cannons.
Uyuni was where you start the Salt Flats tour. We payed 700 Bolivianos which included 3 days and 2 nights. That is about 100 dollars that covers pretty much everything. It was a great trip, EXTREMELY COLD at night it would get down to -25 with NO HEATERS, they make you rent a sleeping bag and you have blakets, but I suggests bringing the warmest clothes you have…and wine. I bought clothes in Bolivia since it is so cheap and it will keep you warm! During the tour you pass through about 25 different Volcanoes, 3 of the active. You see RED lagoons and Flamingos. Its amazing terrain and after every turn its a little bit different.
I decided to get dropped off at the border of Chile- San Pedro de Atacames. That is where I began my trip into CHILE. :)
I didnt write enough about Bolivia… but in a way its best just to discover it for yourself ;)
I decided to book a flight from Santa Marta Colombia to Lima Peru in order to avoid having to cross all the way through Ecuador again. When we arrived to the airport for our flight the ticket agent told us that they will not let us get on the plane without proof of a ticket out of Peru. We explained that we would be traveling by bus and that we did not want to buy a ticket. Unfortunetly we didnt have a choice and ended up paying $1000 USD for a flight that we didnt even want. Not a great day of traveling that day. Once we arrived in Peru the immigration officer didnt even ask to see it. Luckily we are able to change our tickets and the location, so I will use it at some point on the rest of my travels.
Peru was great! We took a bus from Lima to Huacachina which is a desert oasis. There isnt anything there besides sand boarding tours and a couple resturants. Really interesting desert worth taking a look.
From there we went to Cusco. Staying at the wild rover hostel is a fun and great way to meet tons of other travelers. Beds are also really comfortable as well.
We booked our Manchu Picchu tour through By Car in Cusco. It included 2 days and one night and then the entrance to Manchu Picchu for $130 which also included meals. It was a really good deal and well worth it considering the entrance to Manchu Picchu is about $75 dollars alone.
Manchu Picchu was great and I think we really appreciated it even more since we had a driver who had a death wish. It was the scariest drive of my life. Not only were we driving on a one way gravel road on a cliff but we had to pass cars, deal with falling rocks, drive through rivers… just to name a few things.
The Incas were soo smart and it was amazing to finally see Manchu Picchu up close and not in a picture.
We took an expensive bus ride from Cartagena to Santa Marta, I forgot that we weren´t in cheap Ecuador anymore, this bus cost us $40.000 pesos each. That´s about $25 dollars each for a 4 hour trip. We arrived in Santa Marta which I have to admit I was not that impressed and we headed strait to Taganga. We started driving through some pretty sketchy areas but when we pulled into Taganga it got even sketchier. Roads were not paved and it was pretty dark everwhere. We stayed in a really nice hostel called Divanga, I recommend it for sure. In the morning I got up and when to the ¨Beach¨ with my friend we got there lied down for about 2 mintues and then decided it was the worst beach we had been too and we just couldn´t stay there. The beach was basically rocky sand, and compared to the caribbean beach that we had just come from…it wasn´t doing it for us. Taganga is a small fisherman´s village but there really isn´t anything there. I decided to do I dive course there because it was $350 dollars to become certified one of the cheapest places that I know about! It was a great 3 day course. I went with a company called Nauticulos, they were a really great company right on the main street at the beach. At night Taganga had pretty good parties as well, there were two bars that you could choose from (Mirador was always popular). I´m glad I was occupied with the dive course for 3 days otherwise I´m not really sure what I would have done to occupy my time there. There are fishermen that will take you to other beaches that are nicer and 15 minutes by boat. Tyrona park is also near Taganga and it is very popular for tourists. My last day in Colombia we decided to go to a beach that was recommened to one of my friends that we were traveling with. Palmino was the name of the town that we went to. We got on a bus in Santa Marta, which is only 10 min. away from Taganga and headed to this beautiful beach. The bus started driving and after about 15 mintues the money collector came and told us it was $8000 pesos each! We asked him why it was so much, and then I asked him how far away it was, he said it was an hour and a half! We were thinking it was going to be a 15 mintue journey…it wasn´t. We then got dropped off in this tiny village. As soon as we got off the bus we had guys in motorcycles coming up to us asking if we wanted rides to the beach. We asked how long it was to walk and they told us 20 min. The motorcycles were cheap they were only charging us $2000 each, so we got on and they dropped us off, they were nice enough to tell us that they could come back when we wanted because there was nobody on the beach! So they came back promptly at 5pm to pick us all up. The beach was really nice and I didn´t mind the scenic hour and a half ride.
Colombia was great and I´m sad that I wasn´t there longer, I will miss it for sure!
I arrived in Bogota late on May 9th. It was freezing! I got a taxi and met my friends at another friends house who had family in Bogota. I explored Bogota the next day, took a train up this steep hill and got a nice view of the city. We also saw the gold museum which had a Lot of gold! (who would have thought). Other than that Bogota really doesn’t have that much to see, not really a tourist city more of a business hub. Bogota was also too cold for my liking, the next day I booked my ticket and headed to the North of Colombia, Cartagena.
Cartagena is a beautiful city, the old part of town is so nice and that’s right where my Hostal was. Makako was such a cute Hostal and I loved sitting on the hammocks writing my blog posts ;) Cartagena is a safe city as well, we would walk around the old part of town at night and I wouldn’t feel in danger at all.
The next day we walked to the port and got a boat that took us to Playa Blanca, this beautiful Caribbean beach with turquoise water and white sandy beaches. It was an amazing Island and we rented a hammock and slept right on the beach for $2.50. They have great snorkeling there apparently but I didn’t do any of that, lying on the beach tanning in the sun and sleeping in the shade was good enough for me. I met a guy riding a horse up and down the beach and he said early in the morning I could ride his horse if I wanted, I asked how much it would cost and he said “however much you want to give me”. 5:30 am I woke up to a stray dog kicking sand in my face, all over my stuff and on my hammock, I decided to get up as I waited for the cowboy to come I got to see all the fishermen in there little tiny canoe like boats going to catch some
Fish before the heat of the day. My cowboy came and he gave me the reins to the horse and told me to go explore. I hopped on the horse with my friends pants and my flip flops and took off along the beach. This horse was testing me and started galloping as soon as I got on, eventually the horse realized I was in control and slowed down. That is also when I realized I don’t know any commands to give to horses in Spanish! Lol. I was relying on my body weight the reins to control this horse! It was amazing nobody on the beach and I was up early enough to see the sunrise. I am now back in Cartagena, staying here a couple more nights before I head to Santa Marta and Taganga. It’s hard to leave this beautiful city…
Well my trip has really begun!
First I´ll start with some helpful tips on how to do Galapagos as cheaply as possible.
I traveled May 2nd and Airfare round trip from Guayaquil to Galapagos and back was $430 with Aerogal.
Once you arrive on either San Cristobal or Santa Cruz (Baltra) you must pay a $100 park entrance fee.
San Cristobal is a nice Island, one of the bigger ones, taxi from airport to center should only cost $1.00.
You can find accommodation for $15-20 dollars per person per night.
Food is pretty expensive but you can usually get a lunch for about $6 dollars.
Day tours are what I chose to do since cruises cost normally $600 or more.
I did a day tour which allowed us to snorkel in 3 different areas and a lunch for $50. It was worth it to see the marine life along with hammerhead sharks if your lucky.
The next day we paid a taxi $50 for the day and he took us into the highlands. We saw this really neat tree house which included beds, toilets, kitchen! The owner will rent it out if you want to sleep in a real tree house for $20 per night. Really neat idea and definitely worth taking a look. It cost $1 to go in and see it, because it´s private property, but it´s worth it. They also have a bedroom below the tree!
Then the taxi takes you to the Tortoise breading center in the highlands, it´s a nice walk and you see all different size turtles. Then they take you to a beautiful beach, bring bug repellent because the horseflies are relentless.
Boats from one island to the next cost $25 one way and the afternoon boats sometimes cost $30. They leave at 7am and at 2 pm (really inconvenient times). It takes about 2 hours to get from San Cristobal to Santa Cruz as well as Santa Cruz to Isebella.
Santa Cruz is the middle island, it is more expensive than the other two. Santa Cruz is also the best place to book tours to islands that are farther away. Although tours to islands such as Floriana are about $85 just for the day.
I recommend seeing the lava tunnels in Santa Cruz. You take a taxi and ask them to take you to the ones that also have the tortoise breading center. There are lava tunnels that are closer to the center of town, but they are not the same. The taxi ride is about 30 min there and will cost you $30 there and back. The taxi driver will stay with you the whole time. Once you finish looking at the giant elephant tortoises they take you to this lava cave, VERY COOL! It takes about 15 min to walk through it, with a small part where you have to get down on your hands and knees and army crawl. You get a little muddy, but it´s a really neat experience. Total cost for the Breading center and the cave is $3.
Isebella is the 3rd island and the biggest. It was by far my favorite. You can see all types of animals on this island as well as two volcanoes. Volcano trip which includes lunch costs $35. It´s about a 4 hour hike, but a fairly mild hike.
Biggest recommendation is Las Tunneles. They were formed by the volcano millions of years ago. Tour costs $60 includes a snack. You take a 45 min boat ride to one side of the island. These tunnels are unique in the world with crystal clear water and not very deep. As the boat drives through these amazing tunnels you can see everything in the beautiful turquoise water. Tons of different fish! Then they stop and let you climb on the tunnels. You see perfectly,huge marine turtles swimming beneath you. Fishes of all different colors. Then they take you to another spot where you get to snorkel with the Turtles as well as white tip sharks, penguins, manta rays, sea lions. It´s an amazing tour! For my travel budget this $60 was the best I ever spent!
Isebella is also famous for it´s beautiful beaches. Go see for yourself.
When I booked my flight I was flying out of San Cristobal both arriving and departing. If possible, it´s better to book your arrival on San Cristobal and Departure on Baltra. That way it saves you a $25-30 boat ride back to the original island. I didn’t have that option so once I arrived I went and I only had to pay $10 to change my ticket. It saved me $15 and lots of time!
Diving is definitely a popular activity in the Galapagos and it is highly suggested. A dive that starts at 6am and goes until 1pm cost about $150.
The Galapagos is an amazing place to visit, I highly recommend it, although I tried to do it as cheaply as possible it does add up. People on the islands are very friendly and helpful.
Great place! I already miss it!
Now I´m off to Colombia
It’s been a month since I’ve update my blog, but I promise I have been extremely busy. So much happens all the time it’s so hard to keep up. So where to start…
I was unfortunately able to experience the lovely Taxi Express while here in Guayaquil. But I knew the risk I was taking when I got in the car. I took the Taxi with a girl friend of mine and we were cautious about which one we got into, we were late for a birthday party so we decided to take a taxi from the street, and yep, we got in a yellow Taxi. Long story short, another taxi pulls up with a man yelling out the window with a gun telling our taxi to pull over. Two men got in our taxi with guns and robs us of everything we had, including my rings :(…then they left us with our sim card from our phones and 5 dollars and dropped us off in a dark road in the middle of nowhere. We got a ride to the bus terminal from some random people who were closing up there shop, and we took the city bus back home. Not the best experience, definitely don’t want to re live it… so lesson learnt, I call taxi’s all the time now, even when I’m late for birthdays.
About three days later after the taxi indecent I noticed my head was extremely itchy, I had to get my friend to look and yep, I had lice. I have never had lice in my life, and it’s safe to say I freaked out. Now I realized that lice isn’t the end of the world, but I have LONG hair. I went to the pharmacy and bought two different kinds of lice shampoo, I went a little over board…My friend stayed up until 4:30am picking out my hair.
Now that I was lice free, I had a week were things were alright. Then about a week later my stomach started to really hurt every time I ate something. I found out that it’s common here for everyone to take Parasite medication about every 6 months because they all get Parasites from poor water and such. So I went and bought Parasite medications and my stomach was feeling much better the next day :)
Yesterday was my last day of exams and papers. I’m officially finished my University Degree. Feels good! I am now on my way to work in a small beach town for a week. Then coming back to Guayaquil for a day, then going to the Galapagos for a week, after that I am starting my real travels all around the rest of South America.
Start in Colombia, I have lots of friends who are going to be there, so I don’t have to worry about traveling alone. Then I am going to fly to Peru, then Bolivia, then Chile, Argentina, and then Brazil :) I’ve been doing my research trying to find how I can get my Visa for Brazil since they really don’t make it very easy for Canadians, but I’ve found a loop hole I think ;) Guess we will find out if it works.
I don’t know how much access I will have to the internet on my trips, I know some places of course, but so far in Ecuador…It has not been that easy to find if I’m not at my own house.
Can’t wait for the Adventure I have ahead of me. :) I’ll try to write as much as I can while I’m traveling. As for now, I’m off to a going away party.
Well I’ve been home for a week now from traveling the coast of Ecuador and I feel so behind in everything already!
This sickness that I have is slowing me down as well, but I think I’ve started coughing so I think I’m on the recovering stages now.
The coast of Ecuador was beautiful as always. I started in Esmeraldas then Monpiche, then Same, then Pernales, Canoa, Puerto Lopez, Montañita and home to Guayaquil.
My favorite beach is still “Same”. It had the nicest sand to lie on, nicest water and waves to body board and I liked the people there.
Since we did most of our traveling during the week things were quite inexpensive which was great! Hostels were $5 a night! :) Man it’s going to be hard to go back to Canada where things are so expensive!
All in all it was a great trip along the coast of Ecuador, now I can’t wait to go to the Galapagos. Lots of my friends went during the break and so I have some great advice and tip on where to go :)