Backpacking through Peru, Bolivia and Chile

Backpacking through Peru, Bolivia and Chile

South America

Eyes glued to the 5th grade history books, I didn't want to miss any details of the small images of an ancient Inca city. How many Friday nights I spent depriving myself of sleep to enjoy the beautiful landscapes of South America on Globo Repórter. Without the ease of the internet, everything became more impressive and mysterious. “When in my life will I be able to visit these places?”, I asked myself. I grew up with the idea that one day I would visit such places, as if a part of me was there.

I started planning my first backpacking trip to South America. It seems like a cliché itinerary, but I believe it is one of the most incredible in the life of anyone who wants to venture there. I don't know how to speak English or Spanish, but that wouldn't be my problem, I would find a way. I want to visit Machu Picchu, ok. Wow, but so close to there is Lake Titicaca… So let's stretch. Even closer is Laz Paz and the Salar de Uyuni, how could you not see them? Stretch.

Huuum, but can you visit San Pedro do Atacama? Stretch more. Why not take a 24-hour bus ride to get to know Santiago? Of course. Script: ok. Estimated time: 20 days. Holidays for the desired month: ok. A thousand searches on 360meridianos: ok. Money: never. Never? Just press it. And gave.

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I prepared my backpack, separated all the necessary documents and sent copies to my personal email, booked all the hostels through, bought jackets and thermal clothing (after all, I was going in winter), separated some home remedies, hugged and said goodbye to who is entitled.

And I went. I boarded in Vitória/ES, on 07/19/14, arrived in Cusco the next day. Totally lost, I understood that this would be a unique opportunity to change my conception of things and I decided to allow myself to do so. I visited the main tourist attractions in Cusco, walked around and got lost in the city streets.

Accustomed to the 35°C of Espírito Santo, the 5°C was a shock. On the tour to the Sacred Valley, I saw those brown mountains that were nothing like what I imagined. I examined the people and their customs, kind and colorful, very colorful. By train, on a not so exciting journey (because it was already night) I headed to Aguas Calientes. I couldn't sleep, the anxiety was too much.

Machu Picchu - Peru

At 5 am I was already up, and breakfast didn't go down my throat. I was shocked to see that Aguas Calientes is surrounded by mountains almost perpendicular to the ground. Riding the bus up the steep road, I cried. Wow, I was two steps away from what I dreamed of for so long. And Machu Picchu revealed itself to me, imposing, mysterious and energizing.

I isolated myself for a moment in a quiet corner and closed my eyes. After a few minutes, I opened my eyes, and I had this crazy feeling of traveling through my thoughts. I touched the ground and it was real. Allow yourself to walk leisurely, enjoy the landscape and enjoy a unique energy. And, why not, consider it transcendental.

Read too: Machu Picchu, our tips and travel reports

cusco - Peru

On a small boat along Titicaca heading to Isla del Sol, in Bolivia, I came into contact with a shade of blue that I never thought existed. No turquoise, baby, swimming pool… I think it's better to define it as Blue Titicaca. In the middle of the lake, the island appears, half naked and apparently lifeless. Once there, backpack on my back and I climb the hill. Up, up, phew! It doesn't end. But I arrived.

A village built on the slope of an island in the highest lake in the world. There I was at the highest point, enjoying the sunset. For several moments the lake blended in with the sky, in a mix of colors. In the background, the Andes, orange. There I said some prayers and, in my silence, I tried to understand the grandeur of that place. When I woke up early to see the sunrise, I felt like I had accomplished my mission there.

Island of the sun - Peru

In La Paz, the scenario changes. Big city, very tall, soroche back and forth, hellish traffic. It felt more like the 25th of March, or as if I had taken a little bit of everything, put it in a bag and shaken it. Tcharan, La Paz! And that is exactly the key point of the city, a mix of everything. On a street you have the feeling of having walked through the entire city, such is the diversity of people and things. The food is not that good, I don't know if it's because it came from Peru, with impeccable cuisine. You pay very cheaply for things, including food.

I climbed part of Chacaltaya, I couldn't reach the summit because I didn't have the lungs to reach 5,200m of altitude, I stopped at 5,000m, which I considered an achievement. I closed my package of three days and two nights on the Salar, after almost having to abort the plans due to a strike that was taking place in the Uyuni region, preventing bus traffic. I prayed so much that the strike ended the day I closed the tour.

Salar de Uyuni - Bolivia

Perhaps the most unusual lunch I had was at Salar de Uyuni. Sitting in the middle of the white desert, taking a little salt from the ground (salt!) to season the food and having fun with mirages on the horizon. Climb to the top of an “island”, do a 360° turn and get lost in the immensity. What did I represent in the midst of so much greatness? Absolutely nothing.

Contemplating green, blue and reddish lagoons, being close to flamingos, seeing active volcanoes in the distance, seeing white snow in the middle of a sandy desert, a mountain with 12 colors, geysers in the middle of nowhere and facing a cold of minus 25°, things that definitely marked my stay in Bolivia. More than that, it was spending three days in a 4×4 jeep with two Englishmen, a Swiss and two Germans (after the 7×1) cruising around in Porto.

Volcanic Activity

30 minutes from the border with Bolivia, there was an oasis in the middle of the Atacama Desert: San Pedro, with its beautiful temperature of 20°C. As it was already more than halfway through the trip, the initial tension passed and I decided to take things more calmly, after all, people were already chatting a lot. There I rode my bike along the red dirt roads and climbed to a viewpoint with a view of the entire place.

Man, when I came face to face with the Licancabur volcano (which only reminded me of King Arthur and his sword Excalibur) at an altitude of 5,500m and I was only 2,500m away at that viewpoint and this difference was barely noticeable, once again I asked myself who I It was in the middle of this immensity.

An indescribable vibe at sunset over the Tebinquiche lagoon, reflecting the mountains in the inert waters. Incredible geysers, at minus 10°C. Huge valleys, which express our ability to compare with other things. A super pleasant nightlife and a very cozy village. A beautiful sky to fill your eyes. It was like feeling at home, hugged. San Pedro is one of those places that I will return to soon.

San Pedro do Atacama Viewpoint - Chile

I could have gone by plane, but as I was already running out of money, I decided to take the 24-hour bus ride to Santiago, after all it wouldn't be a problem, those who have dramin have everything! Arriving there, I was amazed by the view of the city from the top of Cerro Santa Lucia, a charming, yellowish late afternoon, making the Andes Mountains embroidered in gold.

I biked around various corners of the city, where I could feel closer to local life. Of course I went to wineries to try wines and of course I had a drink of pisco, alone at a bar table. And of course I went skiing. Of the four hours I was at the ski resort learning to ski, I spent 03h59min sprawled on the ground, oops, in the snow (thankfully). It was very gratifying to end the trip there. On August 7, 2014 I returned home.

Santiago, Chile

It was a trip of extremes. From a metropolis to a village on an island. From a nice room to a lodge in the desert. Of positive and negative temperatures. From the giant lake in the middle of the mountain range to a huge salt desert embedded in it. Of snowy deserts. From the lost city. And, most surprisingly, the people are happy and receptive, without antonyms.

There, looking into the distance above the clouds on the return flight, I was sure I had reached my goal.

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