Around the Altiplano

On July 27, 2022 by keirobyn

[July 2022] We had a one month holiday between school years.  I spent a week in Madison with my mom (91!), which was nice.  Then I returned to Chile.  We spent 3 weeks driving a 6000km “look through”. We drove through northern Chile, into Bolivia and then south to and through Argentina and finally back to Santiago.  Northern Chile and Bolivia were beautiful!  So many amazing National Parks and wilderness areas:  Atacama in Chile,  Parques Lauca and Vicuñas in the far north.

In Bolivia, the Uyuni Salt Flats were amazing and lots of fun to drive on.  We spent time exploring the high desert just over the border from the Atacama area we had been in, in Chile.  Lots of beautiful places and fun!

Our entire vacation took a turn for the worse as we left the Salt Flats.  We had 8 days of drama in our travel home.  Our very computerized pollution emission system failed at 4300m while we were 200kms from the closest town.  We managed to get back to Uyuni (town), but we couldn’t find a mechanic, at first, that could fix the electronic problem.  When we finally got that resolved we drove for the Argentinian border.  We encountered a ‘blockade’; the residents of the border town were blocking all entry points to the town with shattered glass, fireworks, bats, etc…  After about 6 hours we managed to get through that only to encounter a 7 hour border crossing that was completely painful.

Then we drove in the dark to the closest Argentinian town to discover that it was school holidays and there were zero hotels available (seemingly in Argentina!).  So, we camped in -8C weather, nearly freezing to death.  The next few days we drove quickly through some beautiful towns and areas that we struggled to find hotels in.  Then we tried to return to Santiago but discovered that the border pass had been closed for 10 days due to snow, and might be closed for weeks!  After waiting unsuccessfully for 3 days, we bought plane tickets back to Santiago for the day before school started, planning to leave our car in Argentina.  However, on our way to the airport we got a message that the border had just opened!  So, we cancelled our plane tickets and drove straight home!  We were very glad to be home!

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