Salty lake and other sights

You can spend days travelling through north of Chile. It is full of attractions, most of them inconveniently inaccessible by public transport :-) So one hot November day, I and Mateusz decided to pedal it to Laguna Cejar, a sink hole lake in the Salar the Atacama, which due to high salt concentration has properties similar to the Dead Sea.

Mateusz made me proud that day. For the first time in his life he cycled over 30 km! In the scorching sun without a single shade on the way! Surprisingly, it was easier to get there than to take a dip in the lake! Although you don’t need to move a finger to effortlessly float in the water, Mateusz ran away from it as soon as he jumped in! A little skin cut on his leg meant that the high salt content was too much for him to bear :-)

La Portada is a beautiful natural arch located half an hour drive north of Antofagasta. In fact, it is closer to the airport so if you fly there, hire a car to see it on the way to the city. We were lucky to have the place to ourselves! Only few stray dogs kept us the company :-)

Mano del Desierto, 11 metres tall covered in graffiti sculpture is a peculiar sight in the middle of nowhere, on the Panamerican Highway as you drive from Antofagasta to Paranal Observatory.

Almost 100 metres high concrete Cross of the Third Millennium is definitely worth the time. After a short visit to the ground floor museum you can take a lift right to the top for the spectacular views of the Coquimbo bay.

Stargazing in Chile

Visiting Atacama Desert, the driest place in the world, could not be complete without taking a peek at its crystal clear skies. And we couldn’t get a better chance to do it with some of the best astronomical observatories located in the north of Chile. Luckily for us, they allow regular tourists inside!

We started with Paranal, famous for its Very Large Telescope, consisting of four main mirrors of 8.2 diameter but only 17.5 cm thick and weighing 23 tonnes each. Due to its isolated location the best way to see the place is to hire the car. Luckily, the daytime weekend visit itself is free! You just need to book it in advance!

Unfortunately, no touching the telescopes policy applies throughout the visit! But if you’re lucky enough, then who knows maybe you’ll even meet James Bond! He was filming Quantum of Solace here only a few years ago :-)

After we’ve seen the big toys of the very serious astronomers we thought it was time to have some hands-on experience as well. One of the places to do it is Collowara Tourism Observatory. It has a collection of 14 inch telescopes which fades in comparison with Paranal but hey, they allow you to touch it, look through it and even take photos of what you can see! And all of it during the night tour! Only remember to email them in advance:

Big trucks, ghost town and a very deep mine.

With the fuel consumption of over 3000 litres per day, more than 8 metres high, costing few millions dollars each these monsters trucks seem more like toys when you look at them from the viewing platform of Chuquicamata, one of the deepest open pit copper mines in the world near Calama in Chile. And for those of you who would like to visit the place a word of advice: don’t go with the travel agency as you can organise it for free (they only ask you for a voluntary donation to a charity that helps disadvantaged children) by emailing Codelco, the company that manages the site. Remember though to do it in advance as were almost turned away after showing up in the office one day before the tour. One more thing: long sleeves, long trousers and shoes covering toes are healthy and safety musts!

The tour began with a visit in the eerie, abandoned miners’ town, which has been preserved in a nearly ideal state. All the miners have been relocated due to safety reasons as the mine grows bigger and bigger.  We also listened to a short talk on Chuquicamata and its mind-blowing copper facts.

It’s a shame that they didn’t allow us to play on the playground, though! Strolling around strictly forbidden!

Is it a boy or is it a girl?

Well, now there is almost no doubt about it :-) Ania has had the second scan done recently and the little bump you can see on the left photo with the small arrow pointing to it, supposedly is the proof of the masculinity of our second child!

If you look closely at the second photo just below the arrow and the word boca you’ll see the blurry image of the face of our son. It requires some imagination but you can do it :-)

Welcome Back!

After having almost settled in a beautiful city of Cochabamba in Bolivia, where we will live until August, it’s time to say sorry to our family and all our friends for not posting anything on the blog for so long! We hope you’ll all forgive us and give us a second chance to re-activate our journey journal! We promise to update you on all our travel adventures! For the time being a few photos from our new home…

Mateusz just before his first day in the new school…

 Waiting for Easter guests to arrive…

No Mateusz! I’m really sorry but we can’t take this puppy with us back to London :-(