South America Overland Expeditions, 2007 (Long)

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Jan 9, 2006
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South America Overland Expeditions

I am extending an open invitation to fellow travelers and photographers to join me in 2007 in two outstanding overland expeditions. The Patagonia Expedition will take us into the most southern regions of the American Hemisphere. The Pantanal-Altiplano Expedition will allow us to explore the heart of South America. We will travel in a fully equipped 2006, Land Rover Defender 110, the latest model of this off-road classic designed for those who have a freedom of spirit and a mindset for adventure.

The Patagonia trip will cover approximant 2250-miles (3320 km.) and take us through Chile and Argentina. We will traverse this wild, pristine land of legends with staggering landscapes, tumbling crystal rivers, glaciers, lakes, and forests amid the Andes Mountains. We will encounter a kaleidoscope of friendly people inhabiting this once-forgotten part of South America.

Our expedition starts in Punta Arenas, Chile, with its distinctive European flavor. Punta Arenas is located 3.5 hours south of Santiago by plane on the Strait of Magellan. The city has a population of 115,000 and is the commercial, cultural, and social hub of the Magellan territory. A short stay in Punta Arenas will allow the members of the expedition to get acquainted with each other and prepare for the trip.

Following our visit to Punta Arenas, we will head north to Puerto Natales. On the way, we will explore the Otway Sound Penguin Colony (Seno Otway Pinguinera) home to thousands of burrowing Magellanic penguins. The road continues through the town of Rio Verde, one of the earliest settlements of the region with exquisitely maintained buildings in British style.

By day’s end we will reach Puerto Natales, capital of the province of Ultima Esperanza (literally, Last Hope). Puerto Natales is the gateway to world famous Torres del Paine National Park. The park was created in 1959 and declared Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978. The visit to the park is one of the photographic highlights of the trip and well worth venturing to the end of the world. The Paine Mountain Chain is an impressive joint of mountains governed by steep granite towers, the photogenic Cuernos del Paine (Horns of Paine), and the 3,050meter summit of Paine Grande. The mountainous range is crowned by massive glaciers and surrounded by jewel-like lakes. A microclimate supports a rich flora and diverse fauna. We will spend 2 or 3 days taking advantage of outstanding photo opportunities under a wide variety of dramatic lighting conditions.

From Puerto Natales, we will also visit the Natural Monument of Milodon Cave. In 1896 animal remains were discovered in the cave. Scientists originally believed the remains to be fresh. However, it was later documented that the remains belonged to a very large herbivore, the milodon, believed to be extinct since the Pleistocene era thousands of years ago.

The road now takes us to the Pass of Cerro Castillo, a village and estancia near the border with Argentina. After taking care of the border formalities we head north through the vast and desolate Argentinean Pampa to El Calafate. El Calafate will serve as our base when we visit the massive Ice-Fields of Los Glaciares Nacional Park, one of the most dramatic sites created by nature. Here we will explore Perito Moreno, the most impressive and accessible glacier of the world. Its system of walkways allows us to come almost within touching distance of a cathedral of blue-white ice. The thundering sounds are as amazing as the sight of the glacier's 197ft high ice wall carving chunks of ice into turquoise Lago Argentino.

After spending a couple of days in El Calafate, we resume our journey and head to the town of El Chalten, population 200. Argentina's national trekking capital, El Chalten offers easy access to the Fitz-Roy range with its glorious peaks and glacial lakes. The summit of Mount Fitz-Roy is almost always covered with a cloud that the original inhabitants, the Tehuelche, thought was smoke. This misconception gave origin to the name Chalten meaning volcano.

From El Chalten, we will travel on rugged Route 40 (La Cuarenta) approximately 400kms to reach the Parque Nacional Perito Moreno. Named after Francisco Moreno, the founder of Argentina's national park system, it is possibly the wildest of Patagonian parks. The intensely colored summits of the Sierra Colorada are the backdrop for the lake-laden and wildlife-rich high country of the park. Guanacos and huemules (Andean deer) graze the summer pastures. The pilquin or chinchillon anaranjado, a species of vizcacha unique to southernmost Chile, is also conspicuous. Local predators include the puma as well as grey and red foxes. Notable birds are the Andean condor, the flightless rhea, the large owl nacurutu, Patagonian woodpeckers, and the carancho.

Back on Rte. 40, we head to Bajo Caracoles, a small village 150kms from the park. This rustic village is the springboard for expeditions to Cueva de las Manos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cave’s rock walls are covered by hundreds of stencils of human hands, guanacos, and abstract forms. Some dates back to 7370 BC.

Next, we head west toward the Argentinean-Chilean border. On our way, we will pass Lago Posadas and Lago Pueyrredon with their interconnecting and contrasting blue and green waters. We cross the border via Paso Roballo to return to Chilean Patagonia and reach the town of Cochrane. From Cochrane we head south on the Austral Road bordering the Baker River. Traveling through beautiful unexplored landscapes we come across Caleta Tortel, an isolated village with a population of less than 500 inhabitants. The town sits between the fjords and the hills. It was built on steep, rocky slopes over the water and has no streets or fire engine. Access is provided by a 7km-long system of wooden planks.

The journey continues through Chile’s fjord region to Puerto Yungay where a short ferry ride to Rio Bravo connects us to the last leg of the trip down the Carretera Austral. One hundred kilometers south we find Villa O’Higgins, the last outpost on the road. Villa O’Higgins, with a population of approximately 400, was accessible only by air taxi or by water until 1999 when the new road finally opened. The town attracts visitors seeking good fishing, trekking, ecotourism, adventure, and rest. It is also the door to the glaciers of the Campo de Hielo Sur, the southern Patagonian icecap.

After an overnight stay in Villa O’Higgins, we retrace our steps back to Cochrane and continue north to Puerto Tranquilo on the shores of Lago General Carrera. The area’s best attraction is the Capilla de Marmol, a spectacular string of natural marble grottos carved by the lake’s water.

As we travel to Chaiten we encounter other points of interest including: Reserva Nacional Cerro Castillo with its signature landmark Cerro Castillo resembling a medieval castle; Coyhaique, the regional capital and only substantial city in the region;
Parque Nacional Queulat with its amazing hanging glacier; Puerto Puyuhuapi, famous for its nearby thermal waters; and Futaleufu ranked among the world’s top 10 whitewater rivers.

Reaching Chaiten, our trusty Land Rover gets a break aboard the ferry that will take us to Chiloe. Chiloe is an archipelago of almost 40 islands. Isla Grande (Big Island) is Chiloe’s largest island and the second largest in South America after Tierra del Fuego.

Long inhabited by Cunco, Chonos, and Mapuche Indians, Chiloe became part of the Spanish empire in 1567 when the city of Castro was founded. The region was a Jesuist enclave. The Jesuist left their mark with the 50-plus wooden churches scattered around the archipelago. In addition to the churches, palafitos, stilted waterfront houses with elaborately carved shingles also characterize the local architecture.

The area provides a variety of entertainment with bicycle tours, adventure excursions, fishing trips, and maritime crossings. The Parque Nacional Chiloe also offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy the local flora and fauna.

One more ferry ride will deliver us to our final destination, the city of Puerto Montt, capital of the Tenth Region, (Los Lagos). While in Puerto Montt, we will visit Angelmo port, popular for its handicrafts center and marisquerias (seafood restaurants). We will take time to unwind before catching our flights home.


Pantanal-Altiplano Expedition

Campo Grande (Brazil) will be the gathering point for this 2200 miles (3300 Km) trip. The first stop will be in Bonito, which will serve as our base of operation for the next four to six days, as we explore the southern region of the Pantanal, with an ecosystem unique to the Americas. The region of Bonito and the Pantanal has some of the most exuberant and diversified flora and fauna in the world. The isolation of the Pantanal region, home to more than 750 bird, mammal and reptile species, allows for the easy spotting and photographing of the fauna, which has not been driven away into hiding by hordes of tourists. For its part, the small town of Bonito surrounded by hundreds of waterfalls, fluvial caves, and crystal clear lagoons, offers endless opportunities for underwater and landscape photography.
With our time up in Bonito, we will then head, via the Transpantaneria Highway, towards the Brazilian-Bolivian border, which we will cross at Corumba-Puerto Suarez. From Puerto Suarez, we continue our journey to San Jose de Chiquitos, which will be our gateway to the Jesuit missions of Bolivia. We will visit, among others, the missions of San Ignacio de Velasco, Concepcion and San Javier. Unlike their Paraguayan counterparts, destroyed by the Spanish armies during the disbandment of the Jesuit order, the Bolivian misiones are still operating, thus preserving their exquisite mixture of colonial religious architecture.

After visiting the Jesuit missions, we will continue traversing through the Bolivian Chaco region until we reach Santa Cruz de la Sierra. A multifaceted city, Santa Cruz best encapsulates the frontier experience of the region. A modern, vibrant business emporium rises in this city of the Bolivian plains whose historic center is characterized by its peculiar architecture. The city also has an intense nightlife, with numerous discos and pubs. Following the visit to Santa Cruz, we’ll head to Samaipata, home to the mysterious and undecipherable carved rocks. While at Samaipata, we will be able to admire and photograph its many fascinating stone carvings, depicting jaguars, snakes, and other zoomorphic and geometrical figures. Next in the travel plan is the region of Valle Grande, where we will retrace the final steps of the famous guerrilla leader and revolutionary, Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Going up the mountains of the Andes range we will first stop at Sucre, the constitutional capital of Bolivia and a city declared as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. After a couple of days of walking its cobblestone streets and admiring its colonial splendor, we’ll depart from Sucre to explore another city rich in history: Potosi. Synonymous with silver, every corner of Potosi vividly reminds all visitors of its past splendor, when the city was the largest and, perhaps, the richest in the world.

From Potosi, we will move higher up the mountains until we reach the Bolivian Altiplano Central, or Central Plateau, and the town of Uyuni. From our base in Uyuni, we will spend the next couple of days exploring the region, where desert sands and extinct volcanoes stand in stark contrast next to multicolored lagoons with rare flamingos. The area is dotted with hot springs, fumaroles, geysers, boiling mud pools, and steaming streams, all contributing to create surreal scenery. Wild llamas, vicunas and vizcachas wander graciously through the area, adding to the sense of timelessness and magnificence. The remnant of an ancient, prehistoric lake, the salar is the world’s largest salt mine at 3,660 meters (over 12,000 ft.) above sea level. In the summer, the salar marsh becomes a lake half the size of Belgium; in the winter, the water evaporates leaving a snowy blanket of salt. The importance of salt in the region does not go unnoticed; near Colchani, the Salt Hotel is completely made of salt, furniture and all. Further on, the famous Isla del Pescado (Fish Island) is the largest oasis in the salt flat and has cacti that can reach 8 meters (26 feet) tall. Heading southwest, we will resume our trip towards the Chilean-Bolivian border through a land of unimaginable beauty, with its lagoons, salt-water lakes, and numerous volcanoes, including the Ollague Volcano, topping at 5,865 meters (19,240 ft.).

Once in Chile, we will stop at the small town of San Pedro de Atacama. Despite having a population of only 2500 people, San Pedro has an unmistakable cosmopolitan flair due to the large number of international tourists attracted to the site by its breathtaking views and blue skies. San Pedro is considered to be the archeological capital of Chile. The town is home to a museum collection of close to 400,000 artifacts of various Atacaman cultures discovered over the vast expanse of the Atacama. Using San Pedro as our base, we’ll spend the next days visiting the renowned Valle de la Luna, which, as its name suggests, it’s a veritable replica of the lunar landscape. We will also visit Toconao, the Termas de Puritana and the Ruinas de Tulor. Not far, we will find too the Salar de Atacama with its Chaxa Lagoon, home to thousands of flamingos. We cannot leave San Pedro without visiting the nearby SPACE observatory. During the evening tours, we may observe lunar craters, the rings of Saturn, and many other celestial wonders in the unpolluted night skies of the Atacama Desert.

Our next stop is the Geyser of Tatio and its geothermic camp, located at 4,200 meters (13,780 ft.). An early morning visit will enable us to admire and photograph a fabulous display of steam fumaroles. From the Geyser, we’ll hit the road via the picturesque town of Chiu-Chiu, driving through Calama before reaching our final destination, the city of Antofagasta. Here we can relax for a day or two in the beautiful beaches of the Pacific before catching our flight home.

These two trips are a wonderful adventure that has something for every innate explorer, photographer and revolutionary in the world. The estimated length of each trip is between 24 and 26 days and, while having a set itinerary in place, we shall have some elbowroom to be flexible and explore any site we come across during our journey.

The dates for the Patagonia trip are February 21 to March 18, 2007. And the tentative dates for Pantanal-Altiplano trip is June-September of 2007.

If anyone is interested and would like to have more information, please send me a PM.
Thanks! Jorge :smile:


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Joined
Jan 9, 2006
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Miami
Paul,

I will reserve a seat for you for the next five years :wink:
Thanks for the link that is an amazing works..

Saludos

Jorge
 
Joined
Mar 31, 2005
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Toronto Canada
Oh, be still my beating heart! sorrowfully tempted! I MUST get busy and get some $$ into the savings account for this -this would be an amazing trip!
 
Joined
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Brooklyn, NY USA
ahhh Jorge if only I were retired and could take the time---I'd be with you in a flash!

So tell us about the "blue line" trip---Patagonia--I am even more interested in that, having just been to the fabulous Pantanal this past summer! (although still wouldn't be able to take that much time---sigh--)
 
Joined
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SW Virginia
These both look very interesting to me. And I am retired and have the time. Not sure I could sell my wife on the trip, however.

We went to Chile in January/February, 2005, but only traveled from Santiago south. I have already been dreaming about renting a car in Santiago for our next trip and seeing how far south we could get.

Those who find this trip interesting should look at this site. This young couple modified and outfitted a Land Rover in England and shipped it to Ecuador. They then drove it, camping along the way, all the way to Southern Patagonia and then back north to Buenos Aries. It is a fascinating web site with pictures and diary of their travels.
 
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Messages
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Oh, be still my beating heart! sorrowfully tempted! I MUST get busy and get some $$ into the savings account for this -this would be an amazing trip!

Sandi, Janet

I will have a couples trips a year in both areas and very soon I will finish the write-up about the Patagonia trip and also I will have some estimate in the cost of these trips.. I will be sending via PM more info about these. I have so many people interested to go that I may have to buy a second Land Rover:smile:

Janet: Great photography from Pantanal!

Saludos

Jorge
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2006
Messages
136
Location
Miami
These both look very interesting to me. And I am retired and have the time. Not sure I could sell my wife on the trip, however.

We went to Chile in January/February, 2005, but only traveled from Santiago south. I have already been dreaming about renting a car in Santiago for our next trip and seeing how far south we could get.

Those who find this trip interesting should look at this site. This young couple modified and outfitted a Land Rover in England and shipped it to Ecuador. They then drove it, camping along the way, all the way to Southern Patagonia and then back north to Buenos Aries. It is a fascinating web site with pictures and diary of their travels.


Jim,

Yes, Ed and Sue they have a great site and their trip was even more inspiration for my trip. I'm glad to know that you went to my homeland and enjoyed it. I will keep you inform of the details.

Saludos

Jorge
 
Joined
Oct 20, 2006
Messages
134
Location
Stgo de Chile
Hi Jorge:

being located in Santiago, I think I can squeeze in a couple of days of vacation to posibly accompany you on the chilean leg of your trip.

I have been with friends to the atacama dessert and its quite breathtaking.


here is a lousy pic (the only one I have on my office computer)
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Funny coincidence that I was also into off-roading for quite some years, and we even managed to master "la maldita" cerca de linares :)


hard to believe that this is a regular road, aint it :)

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lets stay in touch on this topic!
cheers
alfred
 
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I have been dreaming of going to Patagonia or deep in south america for quite sometime. I might just have to make it happen soon.
 
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Below you will find the updated information about my 2 trips to South America.

The Patagonia trip will take place February 21, 2007 and will end around March 17-18, 2007. I have ONLY 2 places available. If you are seriously considering coming along, please send me a PM.

Here is a picture of my brother in Chile reciving the keys to my brand new 2006 LR defender 110. Now getting ready for the trip..Roof Rack, Snorkel, extra lights, Winch ..etc.

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South America Overland Expeditions

I am extending an open invitation to fellow travelers and photographers to join me in 2007 in two outstanding overland expeditions. The Patagonia Expedition will take us into the most southern regions of the American Hemisphere. The Pantanal-Altiplano Expedition will allow us to explore the heart of South America. We will travel in a fully equipped 2006, Land Rover Defender 110, the latest model of this off-road classic designed for those who have a freedom of spirit and a mindset for adventure.

The Patagonia trip will cover approximant 2250-miles (3320 km.) and take us through Chile and Argentina. We will traverse this wild, pristine land of legends with staggering landscapes, tumbling crystal rivers, glaciers, lakes, and forests amid the Andes Mountains. We will encounter a kaleidoscope of friendly people inhabiting this once-forgotten part of South America.

Our expedition starts in Punta Arenas, Chile, with its distinctive European flavor. Punta Arenas is located 3.5 hours south of Santiago by plane on the Strait of Magellan. The city has a population of 115,000 and is the commercial, cultural, and social hub of the Magellan territory. A short stay in Punta Arenas will allow the members of the expedition to get acquainted with each other and prepare for the trip.

Following our visit to Punta Arenas, we will head north to Puerto Natales. On the way, we will explore the Otway Sound Penguin Colony (Seno Otway Pinguinera) home to thousands of burrowing Magellanic penguins. The road continues through the town of Rio Verde, one of the earliest settlements of the region with exquisitely maintained buildings in British style.

By day’s end we will reach Puerto Natales, capital of the province of Ultima Esperanza (literally, Last Hope). Puerto Natales is the gateway to world famous Torres del Paine National Park. The park was created in 1959 and declared Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978. The visit to the park is one of the photographic highlights of the trip and well worth venturing to the end of the world. The Paine Mountain Chain is an impressive joint of mountains governed by steep granite towers, the photogenic Cuernos del Paine (Horns of Paine), and the 3,050meter summit of Paine Grande. The mountainous range is crowned by massive glaciers and surrounded by jewel-like lakes. A microclimate supports a rich flora and diverse fauna. We will spend 2 or 3 days taking advantage of outstanding photo opportunities under a wide variety of dramatic lighting conditions.

From Puerto Natales, we will also visit the Natural Monument of Milodon Cave. In 1896 animal remains were discovered in the cave. Scientists originally believed the remains to be fresh. However, it was later documented that the remains belonged to a very large herbivore, the milodon, believed to be extinct since the Pleistocene era thousands of years ago.

The road now takes us to the Pass of Cerro Castillo, a village and estancia near the border with Argentina. After taking care of the border formalities we head north through the vast and desolate Argentinean Pampa to El Calafate. El Calafate will serve as our base when we visit the massive Ice-Fields of Los Glaciares Nacional Park, one of the most dramatic sites created by nature. Here we will explore Perito Moreno, the most impressive and accessible glacier of the world. Its system of walkways allows us to come almost within touching distance of a cathedral of blue-white ice. The thundering sounds are as amazing as the sight of the glacier's 197ft high ice wall carving chunks of ice into turquoise Lago Argentino.

After spending a couple of days in El Calafate, we resume our journey and head to the town of El Chalten, population 200. Argentina's national trekking capital, El Chalten offers easy access to the Fitz-Roy range with its glorious peaks and glacial lakes. The summit of Mount Fitz-Roy is almost always covered with a cloud that the original inhabitants, the Tehuelche, thought was smoke. This misconception gave origin to the name Chalten meaning volcano.

From El Chalten, we will travel on rugged Route 40 (La Cuarenta) approximately 400kms to reach the Parque Nacional Perito Moreno. Named after Francisco Moreno, the founder of Argentina's national park system, it is possibly the wildest of Patagonian parks. The intensely colored summits of the Sierra Colorada are the backdrop for the lake-laden and wildlife-rich high country of the park. Guanacos and huemules (Andean deer) graze the summer pastures. The pilquin or chinchillon anaranjado, a species of vizcacha unique to southernmost Chile, is also conspicuous. Local predators include the puma as well as grey and red foxes. Notable birds are the Andean condor, the flightless rhea, the large owl nacurutu, Patagonian woodpeckers, and the carancho.

Back on Rte. 40, we head to Bajo Caracoles, a small village 150kms from the park. This rustic village is the springboard for expeditions to Cueva de las Manos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cave’s rock walls are covered by hundreds of stencils of human hands, guanacos, and abstract forms. Some dates back to 7370 BC.

Next, we head west toward the Argentinean-Chilean border. On our way, we will pass Lago Posadas and Lago Pueyrredon with their interconnecting and contrasting blue and green waters. We cross the border via Paso Roballo to return to Chilean Patagonia and reach the town of Cochrane. From Cochrane we head south on the Austral Road bordering the Baker River. Traveling through beautiful unexplored landscapes we come across Caleta Tortel, an isolated village with a population of less than 500 inhabitants. The town sits between the fjords and the hills. It was built on steep, rocky slopes over the water and has no streets or fire engine. Access is provided by a 7km-long system of wooden planks.

The journey continues through Chile’s fjord region to Puerto Yungay where a short ferry ride to Rio Bravo connects us to the last leg of the trip down the Carretera Austral. One hundred kilometers south we find Villa O’Higgins, the last outpost on the road. Villa O’Higgins, with a population of approximately 400, was accessible only by air taxi or by water until 1999 when the new road finally opened. The town attracts visitors seeking good fishing, trekking, ecotourism, adventure, and rest. It is also the door to the glaciers of the Campo de Hielo Sur, the southern Patagonian icecap.

After an overnight stay in Villa O’Higgins, we retrace our steps back to Cochrane and continue north to Puerto Tranquilo on the shores of Lago General Carrera. The area’s best attraction is the Capilla de Marmol, a spectacular string of natural marble grottos carved by the lake’s water.

As we travel to Chaiten we encounter other points of interest including: Reserva Nacional Cerro Castillo with its signature landmark Cerro Castillo resembling a medieval castle; Coyhaique, the regional capital and only substantial city in the region;
Parque Nacional Queulat with its amazing hanging glacier; Puerto Puyuhuapi, famous for its nearby thermal waters; and Futaleufu ranked among the world’s top 10 whitewater rivers.

Reaching Chaiten, our trusty Land Rover gets a break aboard the ferry that will take us to Chiloe. Chiloe is an archipelago of almost 40 islands. Isla Grande (Big Island) is Chiloe’s largest island and the second largest in South America after Tierra del Fuego.

Long inhabited by Cunco, Chonos, and Mapuche Indians, Chiloe became part of the Spanish empire in 1567 when the city of Castro was founded. The region was a Jesuist enclave. The Jesuist left their mark with the 50-plus wooden churches scattered around the archipelago. In addition to the churches, palafitos, stilted waterfront houses with elaborately carved shingles also characterize the local architecture.

The area provides a variety of entertainment with bicycle tours, adventure excursions, fishing trips, and maritime crossings. The Parque Nacional Chiloe also offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy the local flora and fauna.

One more ferry ride will deliver us to our final destination, the city of Puerto Montt, capital of the Tenth Region, (Los Lagos). While in Puerto Montt, we will visit Angelmo port, popular for its handicrafts center and marisquerias (seafood restaurants). We will take time to unwind before catching our flights home.


Pantanal-Altiplano Expedition

Campo Grande (Brazil) will be the gathering point for this 2200 miles (3300 Km) trip. The first stop will be in Bonito, which will serve as our base of operation for the next four to six days, as we explore the southern region of the Pantanal, with an ecosystem unique to the Americas. The region of Bonito and the Pantanal has some of the most exuberant and diversified flora and fauna in the world. The isolation of the Pantanal region, home to more than 750 bird, mammal and reptile species, allows for the easy spotting and photographing of the fauna, which has not been driven away into hiding by hordes of tourists. For its part, the small town of Bonito surrounded by hundreds of waterfalls, fluvial caves, and crystal clear lagoons, offers endless opportunities for underwater and landscape photography.
With our time up in Bonito, we will then head, via the Transpantaneria Highway, towards the Brazilian-Bolivian border, which we will cross at Corumba-Puerto Suarez. From Puerto Suarez, we continue our journey to San Jose de Chiquitos, which will be our gateway to the Jesuit missions of Bolivia. We will visit, among others, the missions of San Ignacio de Velasco, Concepcion and San Javier. Unlike their Paraguayan counterparts, destroyed by the Spanish armies during the disbandment of the Jesuit order, the Bolivian misiones are still operating, thus preserving their exquisite mixture of colonial religious architecture.

After visiting the Jesuit missions, we will continue traversing through the Bolivian Chaco region until we reach Santa Cruz de la Sierra. A multifaceted city, Santa Cruz best encapsulates the frontier experience of the region. A modern, vibrant business emporium rises in this city of the Bolivian plains whose historic center is characterized by its peculiar architecture. The city also has an intense nightlife, with numerous discos and pubs. Following the visit to Santa Cruz, we’ll head to Samaipata, home to the mysterious and undecipherable carved rocks. While at Samaipata, we will be able to admire and photograph its many fascinating stone carvings, depicting jaguars, snakes, and other zoomorphic and geometrical figures. Next in the travel plan is the region of Valle Grande, where we will retrace the final steps of the famous guerrilla leader and revolutionary, Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Going up the mountains of the Andes range we will first stop at Sucre, the constitutional capital of Bolivia and a city declared as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. After a couple of days of walking its cobblestone streets and admiring its colonial splendor, we’ll depart from Sucre to explore another city rich in history: Potosi. Synonymous with silver, every corner of Potosi vividly reminds all visitors of its past splendor, when the city was the largest and, perhaps, the richest in the world.

From Potosi, we will move higher up the mountains until we reach the Bolivian Altiplano Central, or Central Plateau, and the town of Uyuni. From our base in Uyuni, we will spend the next couple of days exploring the region, where desert sands and extinct volcanoes stand in stark contrast next to multicolored lagoons with rare flamingos. The area is dotted with hot springs, fumaroles, geysers, boiling mud pools, and steaming streams, all contributing to create surreal scenery. Wild llamas, vicunas and vizcachas wander graciously through the area, adding to the sense of timelessness and magnificence. The remnant of an ancient, prehistoric lake, the salar is the world’s largest salt mine at 3,660 meters (over 12,000 ft.) above sea level. In the summer, the salar marsh becomes a lake half the size of Belgium; in the winter, the water evaporates leaving a snowy blanket of salt. The importance of salt in the region does not go unnoticed; near Colchani, the Salt Hotel is completely made of salt, furniture and all. Further on, the famous Isla del Pescado (Fish Island) is the largest oasis in the salt flat and has cacti that can reach 8 meters (26 feet) tall. Heading southwest, we will resume our trip towards the Chilean-Bolivian border through a land of unimaginable beauty, with its lagoons, salt-water lakes, and numerous volcanoes, including the Ollague Volcano, topping at 5,865 meters (19,240 ft.).

Once in Chile, we will stop at the small town of San Pedro de Atacama. Despite having a population of only 2500 people, San Pedro has an unmistakable cosmopolitan flair due to the large number of international tourists attracted to the site by its breathtaking views and blue skies. San Pedro is considered to be the archeological capital of Chile. The town is home to a museum collection of close to 400,000 artifacts of various Atacaman cultures discovered over the vast expanse of the Atacama. Using San Pedro as our base, we’ll spend the next days visiting the renowned Valle de la Luna, which, as its name suggests, it’s a veritable replica of the lunar landscape. We will also visit Toconao, the Termas de Puritana and the Ruinas de Tulor. Not far, we will find too the Salar de Atacama with its Chaxa Lagoon, home to thousands of flamingos. We cannot leave San Pedro without visiting the nearby SPACE observatory. During the evening tours, we may observe lunar craters, the rings of Saturn, and many other celestial wonders in the unpolluted night skies of the Atacama Desert.

Our next stop is the Geyser of Tatio and its geothermic camp, located at 4,200 meters (13,780 ft.). An early morning visit will enable us to admire and photograph a fabulous display of steam fumaroles. From the Geyser, we’ll hit the road via the picturesque town of Chiu-Chiu, driving through Calama before reaching our final destination, the city of Antofagasta. Here we can relax for a day or two in the beautiful beaches of the Pacific before catching our flight home.

These two trips are a wonderful adventure that has something for every innate explorer, photographer and revolutionary in the world. The estimated length of each trip is between 24 and 26 days and, while having a set itinerary in place, we shall have some elbowroom to be flexible and explore any site we come across during our journey.

The dates for the Patagonia trip are February 21 to March 18, 2007. And the tentative dates for Pantanal-Altiplano trip is June-September of 2007.

If anyone is interested and would like to have more information, please send me a PM.

Thanks! Jorge :smile:


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Joined
May 5, 2005
Messages
24,352
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If anyone wants to see just a hint of what Jorge is describing, you are welcome to look at pictures from the trip to Chile my wife and I made in 1995. The quality of these shots is not exceptional as I had only a Coolpix 5700 and was just learning.

It is a spectacular area, and this looks like an exciting adventure.
 
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Messages
3,945
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God's Creation
Would love to take one of your trips!

Just saw this thread, so missed the February trip
but going to look at your photos of trip right now.
Keep us in mind...
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2007
Messages
518
Location
NC
I would love to go on a trip like that! South america seems so awesome! I went to Tanzania last summer, and obviously south america would be different, but i still really want to do it...if only i had the money...:frown:
 
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