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2020 february: Chile - Desierto de Atacama

Arrived in Chile was 2.5 months ahead of me. The plan was to start in the Atacama Desert and drive across the Argentine part of Patagonia to Tierra del Fuego. Then by plane to Quito in Ecuador and on to the Galapagos Islands. From there again to the Ecuadorian southern Amazon.

On departure there were already strong signs of the Corona pandemic, although at that time only in China. It was anticipated - I then had to cancel Ecuador because the borders and national parks were already closed at the end of March. However, I was able to finish Chile and Argentina almost as planned.

Parque Nacional Nevado Tres Cruces

After arriving in Santiago and acclimatizing for two days, we went straight to Copiapo, the starting point for the southern part of the Atakama Desert, the Nevado Tres Cruces National Park or Ojos del Salado. In Santiago I also met Segundo Calderon, my driver and companion, whom I already knew from my Peru tour in 2019 and had reactivated for this adventure. He should accompany me to Tierra del Fuego. After receiving the rental car, we drove to the Tres Cruces National Park. On the way we met Ercio Mettifogo, our guide for the next three days. He is a real connoisseur of this barren, remote and beautiful region. Without him we would not have been able to explore the remote places of this national park. In the national park are the Lagunas Santa Rosa (in the west), Laguna Verde (in the east) and the Laguna del Negro Francisco (in the south). A variety of mountains and volcanoes over 6000 m high, such as The Ojos del Salado 6,893 m, the Salado Tres Cruces 6,749 m, Incahuasi 6,621 m, el Muerto 6,542 m and the Llullaillaco 6,739 m can be found there. It is a breathtaking landscape in which we constantly moved between 4000 m and 5400 m. I had no problems with altitude during the day, only sleeping at this altitude was a little bit difficult. There are also many flamingos, ducks, geese and vicuñas in this region.

Parque Nacional Pan de Azucar

We continued from the National Park Salado Tres Cruces on the Pacific coast to the National Park Pan de Azucar. It is again at sea level. This is where the rare Humboldt penguins, various species of cormorants, pelicans, nutria and sea lion colonies live. We spent two days there before driving back to Copiapo, dropping off the rental car and flying to Puerto Montt.