Within an hour I replaced my hostel in Valparaiso for a hostel in the beachtown of Viña del Mar. This town has boulevards and is a popular summer destination for the Chileans. During the cold and cloudy mornings I walked around the town. The Pacific sea is freezing cold in Viña del Mar, but it didn't stop me from getting some beachtime in the afternoons. I joined the weekly asado (BBQ) in the hostel and had some drinks with the other backpackers.
I had doubted to go to Patagonia but I wanted to do some scuba diving. The sea had been too cold for me to dive so far and the Caribbean seemed a better area to make some nice scuba dives. That's why I booked myself a ticket to Nicaragua. Another chapter of my backpacking trip in Latin America was about to start.
Valparaíso is just a two hours busride away from Santiago. The city is located on several hills (Cerros) next to the Pacific ocean and it used to have an important harbour until the Panama canal was established. Because of the beautiful setting on the hills and the colourful houses Valparaíso is popular by poets, painters and would-be philosophers. The whole of Valparaíso is an Unesco heritage site. Though being a harbour city makes it a little rough around the edges as well.
'Valpo' is famous for its street-art and beautiful murals can be seen around every corner. I joined a graffiti tour to see some of these murals and to learn about the graffiti art on the Cerro Concepción and the Cerro Alegre. After the tour I went with some other backpackers to the Cerro Polanco where in 2012 an international graffiti festival was hosted. The open air graffiti museum on the hill kept my camera busy.
I crossed the Andes mountains on a beautiful bus ride from Mendoza (Argentina) to Santiago, the capital city of Chile. This convenient capital with a metro system hosts almost 6 million habitants. I stayed in barrio Brazil, explored several neighbourhoods and watched the city from the Cerro San Cristobal. In the afternoons I battled the temperatures at the swimming pool in the hostel.
I guess this is one of the most modernist cities in South America. A Colombian guy who was living in Santiago showed me some interesting cultural sites. I stayed in Santiago for five days and came back for another two nights after my trip to Valparaíso and Viña del Mar.
The Uyuni tour in Bolivia ended in the Andes at the border with Chile. From there we were taken by bus to San Pedro de Atacama. This town is situated in the Atacama desert and is surrounded by a spectacular scenery. That's why San Pedro de Atacama has become a big tourist hub in the desert. Cejar laguna is a saltlake, where tourists love to float on the salty waters and Valle de la luna (Moon valley) deserves its name because of the moon-like landscapes. It was all beautiful, but the sceneries could not equal those in Bolivia.
It was time for a change. Instead of going south in Chile I crossed the Andes again to visit Argentina. When I took a bus to Salta I told myself I would be back in Chile.