March was an adventurous month as we travelled in Bolivia, Chile and got a glimpse of Argentina.
We rushed a little bit through Bolivia because we were too excited for Chilean Patagonia. We’ve tried downhill biking on famous Death Road near La Paz which wasn’t a very exciting experience (read below). Visiting Salt Flats in Bolivia was the highlight of the month.
Then we travelled across half of Chile to the beginning of Patagonia to camp and hitchhike along one of the most beautiful roads in the world – Carretera Austral. We consider this the highlight of our whole 8-month trip so far.
Travelled: 5100 km
Hitchhiking only: 981 km
Spent: 6 days in Bolivia, 22 days in Chile, 3 days in Argentina
Average spent per day per person: 47 USD (43 EUR) in Bolivia, 60 USD (55 EUR) in Chile, 70 USD (65 EUR) in Argentina
Slept: 15 days camping, the rest in hostels
- 5 buses
- 1 train
- 2 boats
- 11 cars (hitchhiking)
The most challenging experience: crossing Chile-Argentina border. From Villa O’Higgins, the end of Carretera Austral, we crossed a lake by boat, then carried all of our stuff (2 backpacks each) through the forest for 22km, crossed another lake by boat and finally hitchhiked to El Chalten.
Definitely, the most exhausting border crossing we’ve had, it took 1,5 day. The scenery and quietness of Chilean-Argentinian Patagonia we’ve experienced were well worth it. But doing it once it’s more than enough.
Fun at train cemetery in Bolivia
One of the most popular places in Bolivia is a little town of Uyuni. Because all the Salt Flats tours depart from here. Train cemetery is one of the stops and since it’s only 10 minutes from town, we’ve decided to visit it before the tour.
We confirmed with locals that it’s completely allowed to spray anything you want on the train. This is no vandalism, trains are at the junkyard (called cemetery as it sounds more appealing to tourists). Many locals and tourists are leaving their messages written on the trains. It was more fun than we thought.
Salt flats in Bolivia
During 3 days, we’ve visited Salt Flats, played with optical illusion, saw more than 5000m high volcanoes, colourful lagoons, desert-like landscape and hundreds of flamingos. This part of Bolivia is unbelievable. We stayed in owe several times looking around if it is real.
Travelling by bus through half of Chile
Why is travelling by bus in our highlights? Because it’s the most comfortable and cheapest way to travel in South America. Maybe not in every country, but definitely in Chile. For the half price of a flight ticket, we travelled across Chile in a bus with reclining seats to full bed, snacks on board and private little TVs with a huge selection of movies.
From San Pedro de Atacama to Puerto Montt, it took 35 hours and 2 buses, but we saw the changing landscape from desert to the mountains while travelling very comfortably.
Scenic road Carretera Austral, Chile
Carretera Austral is one of the most beautiful scenic roads in the world. And the best part? It feels as if you were off the beaten path still (if you visit off season). We thought we’ve seen all the shades of blue when we moved to Canada. But Chile proved us wrong. All the glaciers, lakes and rivers along the road are incredible.
We chose the less conventional mode of transportation – hitchhiking. As we’ve heard a lot of young Chileans do this during their holidays and we wanted to try it ourselves. Best decision ever. Not only it was easy because we were hitchhiking during off-season, which means less competition. But the amount of incredibly nice people we’ve met was a humbling experience.
Downhill biking the Death Road, Bolivia
One of the most popular attractions in Bolivia is exactly that – attraction. It is not dangerous or adventurous experience since the guides force you to stop every few minutes, wait for others and take a group picture with people you really don’t want in your photos anyway. The bike ride alone was nice, but if you really want downhill mountain biking, there are plenty of other options to do that in Bolivia.
San Pedro de Atacama – the driest place on Earth, Chile
This place is overflowing with tourists which mean prices are higher than they should be. Hostels are expensive and in horrible conditions. Since we saw almost the same landscape that the Atacama offers in Bolivia and didn’t want to ruin our budget, we skipped this place and moved on to Patagonia.
El Chalten in Argentina
It is called the trekking capital of Argentina with several days and multi days options for hiking. And there are many that are great. We just couldn’t get any food to bring with us on a trek. Restaurants are crazy expensive, think 20 USD for a small pizza and small grocery stores that carry only very basic supplies.
Even grocery stores along Carretera Austral, which is considered a remote area, carry much more options of dry food. We enjoyed a hike to famous Fitz Roy and moved on to a place where we can fill our bellies.