Visit Chile home to volcanos, deserts, sea lions... and a hitchhikers paradise!

By Ela Bader

Our adventure in this country started when we crossed the border from Argentina and the city of Valdivia was our first destination. There, we've seen the sea lions which come near  the fish market where people feed them. Later we went to Pucon for the pools with natural hot water coming from the geysers. The pools were beautifully situated in
the mountains. Our next destination was Santiago, the capital of Chile. We were hosted by a friendly couple who made a crevice party the day we arrived. In Santiago we went to the local market and couple of museums. The most impressive was 'Museo de la memoria' - the museum about the Pinochet dictatorship, probably the most difficult period in Chile's history during which millions of people died, disappeared or was tortured because they were considered political enemies.

After Sanitago we went to La Serena, the beach town where we were hosted by the British guy who was a chef of Scotland Yard and now he moved to Chile as he married here. The city was close to Valley Elqui - amazing desert valley, with many sky observatories and pisco factories (pisco- grape brandy produced in Chile). From La Serena we went far north, to San Pedro de Atacama. We were very lucky with hitchhiking as we met Ronny- a friendly guy who gave us a ride and also spend a day showing us amazing places around the area. We went to Valle de la Luna, the valley which resembles moon surface and Valle de la Muerte- death valley- so dry that nothing lives there. We also tried the dust boarding on the sand dunes, which was a lot of fun. In San Pedro we were hosted by a young couple from Chile and England. With them we went to other hot pools (as there are a lot of volcanoes and geysers in Chile, there are also a lot of hot streams and pools with natural hot water).

From San Pedro we crossed the border to Bolivia.  Chile was a fascinating place for us. The country is very diverse geographically, ranging from  glaciers and snow-covered volcano peaks in the south to dry and hot desert in the north. The desert part is especially interesting as it seems like another planet. We met a lot of friendly and helpful people, and we managed to visit all the places we wanted by hitchhiking, which in Chile works very well. We've never waited for a ride more then 15 min. We've learned from the drivers that hitchhiking is very popular in Chile as all the university students travel with their backpacks to explore their country and often hitch a ride.  Chile is also very similar to Europe in terms of culture and lifestyle so we felt like home. We could easily mix in the crowd and feel like locals. When we crossed the border and arrived in Bolivia we encountered a completely different reality, but this will be a subject of another post:


BRAZIL - Felicidade e Carnaval !!!

By Ela Bader

Visiting Brazil was an incredible experience!

This vast country is full of diversities, dance, music, exotic fruits and  beautiful landscapes.

After the initial 4 days in Rio de Janeiro we headed north to Porto Seguro. We spent two weeks hitchhiking 1100km along the cost and stopping  at many beautiful beaches and small non-touristic towns. Each one (some less than 40km apart) offered a new aspect of this diverse country. We made a 13 km hike through the sandy beach, with our heavy backpacks from two small towns of Corumbau  to Caraiva (where all the streets are made of sand and the whole village looks like a beach).  It is very rewarding to carry everything that is needed to survive in a backpack and surprisingly it is not as exhausting as it may seem.

This was an incredible adventure in the tropics. Which was followed by returning to Rio in time for carnival. Every day of carnival was full of street parties (Blocos) happening in every district of the city, and every street was crowded with people. It was fun but also very hectic. We have spent a lot of time navigating through crowds of people that last up to 12 blocks! It is interesting as congo lines naturally formed so that people can move trough the crowd.