Back home from Chile. Wow – what an amazing country and such lovely people.

Arrived in Santiago for breakfast and met by the ground agents who then took us in the afternoon on a city tour.

Next day we flew to the Atacama Desert and stayed in the Alto Atacama Lodge which was set in a valley surrounded by hills. 12195932_10206440789771573_7531076350405789154_nPleasant 24 degrees here but we had to acclimatise for the altitude. Katarina our guide was excellent and our first walk was in the ‘Rainbow Valley’ so named for the different colours of the minerals in the rocks. In the afternoon another walk through caves (not so much a walk but crawl through some of it!) then on to the Valley of the Moon for amazing sunset. The hills change colour with the setting of the sun.

Next day off to Laguna Chaxa to see the flamingos. The following day we were up at 5.30am to leave12063763_10206441410627094_2880570598471284933_n for the El Tatio Geysers. Arrived at over 14,000 feet, it was hard to breathe and the temperature was Minus 7 degrees! Amazing sights of geysers bubbling and rising up in the air. We had an outdoor breakfast here and the temperature had risen to +1 degree!! Next day we flew down to Puerto Arenas and visited Isla Magdalena to see the thousands of penguins who were not shy of us at all. (I had one very interested in my walking boots!) We were driven down to Patagonia Camp in the afternoon and our rooms were Yurts on the side of Lago Toro and looking at snow capped mountains. Yurts were comfy – central heated and had en-suites too. The view from the room was spectacular. No time to rest as days here were organised for morning/afternoon or all day treks! Christopher our 12122584_10206440991576618_5449781136943018789_nguide graded our treks to our ability (in other words we did easy/moderate – definitely not hard treks) We went to Lago Grey to see the icebergs and had to walk across the beach in 90kmh wind – staggered across was more like it! We also went on a ‘Fauna’ walk seeing Guanaco (llama family) and Condors soaring up high. We came across a Guanaco who was caught in a fence by it’s leg. We managed between us (me doing the videoing) to release it and off it went and we hope it survived and not eaten by the pumas who lived in the area. Our last day here was spent climbing an escarpment to see the Condor nests. amazing birds up close- so large and very ugly! Flew b12109294_10206440956655745_1301390132736638501_nack to Santiago and then we drove to a vineyard for a rest for the last 2 days. Rest?! Barry and I went horse riding (gentle walk only!) around the vineyard and learnt all about the organic/biodynamic way of wine making, while Jenny & Mike went to Valparaiso to see the architecture.

An amazing trip although very tiring and now back home for a rest. Thank you for organising this special trip for us.

Margaret