Chile is a long country, an entire 4630km from north to south. But the country at its widest is not more than 430km. Like the majority of South America, the official language in Chile is Spanish. Dropping by Chile was considerably shorter than planned. As a result of delays in Peru, we unfortunately did not visit Santiago either. Santiago is the capital of Chile and houses just short of 5 million inhabitants and is located in central Chile.
As you can see in the pictures, Stig has now passed through a large part of northern Chile, very dry and dominated by desert landscape. It is the driest nonpolar place in the world, the Atacama desert. The average rainfall for the whole area is 15mm compared to Bergen with 2250mm- it is no wonder that several weather stations in the desert have never recorded rainfall at all. Atacama desert is so unique that NASA among others use the area to test Equipment intended for expeditions to Mars. Because of the low rainfall, there are almost never any clouds, with more than 300 cloudless nights a year. Atacama is therefore a very popular spot for stargazing; ESA and NASA have consequently a number of important observatories in the area.
Stig talks about his journey through the Atacama and the Andes to Bolivia. We will return to the Andes at a later date, when Stig goes on his journey around South America. He has to cross this vast mountain range several times.
"If you get stopped by a policeman, never try to give him money! This is Chile, it's not like Peru."
We stood on the border between Peru and Chile when a pleasant and interested customs official told us that Chile is a country with low crime and no corruption. Not like their "poor neighbours" in the north and east. Good to know ... Because of the delays with the car, we unfortunately couldn’t spend as much time in Chile before we had to start climbing over the Andes to Bolivia, but we managed to go to a carnival and otherwise got a very good impression of the country. Chile is far more developed than Peru. Their GDP is almost 2.5 times over the Incan north country and a whole 6 times more than Bolivia.
Chile’s desert is the world's driest. We crossed part of this before the Andes lay ahead. The car had to work hard to travel upwards, although saying that, both the driver and passenger were breathless too. At the highest, we drove over 4353 metres above sea level, and not too many miles from the coast. The roads in Chile are very good- however this can not be said for all the roads in Bolivia. Admittedly they are building "everywhere" and it will probably be good when they are finished, in a few years ... Unfortunately for us, we are a few years too early and have been on so many bad roads.Do you have tips for Stig about places he should see or visit, or restaurants he should try? You can send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Click here to follow Stig's route in Google maps.