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Pisco Elqui, Chile 🇨🇱 

Cumulative Daily Spend: £9,574.02 (average: £162.27) 💰 

Daily Steps: 18,767 (15.2km)👣 

Day 59
The first thing James said when he woke up was “did you feel the earthquake last night?!” I said I must have slept through it and that I didn’t believe him! However, we checked online and sure enough there had been an earthquake measuring 4.2 on the Richter Scale in the Pisco region. How cool! This tallies with what we were told in Valparaiso. 

By the time we had finished breakfast (just cereal) it was 11am. We seem to be getting up later and later these days- a product of doing perhaps a little too much every day! We left our bags in a wooden outside compound at the hostel, and made our way onto the side of the road - this time attempting to hitch hike to Pisco Elqui (where we were meant to be staying!) 

10 minutes later and we had been picked up by a family, two of which were driving all the way to Pisco Elqui. A result! We thanked them, and got out at the main square. Pisco Elqui was a very small town and there was barely anyone there.

The main square was in fact beautiful, with a little church and a fountain. There were many posters, all advertising star gazing tours. James’ first comment was that ‘the photos these tours offer are so much better than ours’ (they weren’t). This pissed me off - given it was me that had organised our tour the previous evening. Due to a mixture of extreme tiredness and anger, I curled up on a bench and decided to sleep, much to James’ embarrassment. 

We half made friends, and set off walking up the hilly streets, in search of a Pisco distillery which we had been recommended to go to. I suggested we rent bikes, but we soon discovered no one was offering this service in town. So on we went by foot.

After 30 minutes or so, we spotted Dona Josefa Distillery - at the bottom of a winding road. We could see a few people there, so started to wander down. Once there we were offered a free tour of the distillery, which was so cool. The woman showing us round was so friendly, had a wonderful smile and was a huge fan of Harry Potter (@tolehp ). She had a cool tattoo of the Deathly Hallows too.
Rivadavia, Chile 🇨🇱 

Cumulative Daily Spend: £9,515.46 (average: £164.06) 💰 

Daily Steps: 11,515 (9.3km) 👣 

Day 58
After a 5 hour bus ride, we finally made it to La Serena at around 11pm. Despite the hostel only being a 10 minute walk, we caught a taxi on the recommendation of the hostel. I guess it must be dangerous at night there, like many places in South America. The hostel in which we were staying was called Hostal Luna Del Mar - costing around £25 for a private room. 

We went straight to bed and had a decent night sleep, although I woke up feeling very tired still. We ate breakfast (included) and checked out. Checking out took WAY longer than expected, due to an overly enthusiastic man who spent about 30-40 minutes recommending us things to do and see in La Serena. He also pissed me right off as he bluntly told us that star gazing would be rubbish in Pisco Elqui (where we were headed) as it was not a new moon. He laughed about it as though it was something amusing - so I said “it isn’t funny that we’ve wasted money coming here for something that’s going to be shit”. I stormed off and told him to do one. Good riddance. Just goes to show that there is such a thing as being ‘too positive/happy/‘kind’. James of course had more patience with him, and indulged in conversation for 5-10 minutes more.

Despite this news, we made the executive decision to catch a bus (£6 each) straight to Pisco Elqui (the place for star gazing) which was 2 hours from La Serena. We had originally planned to explore La Serena for the morning and afternoon - but the weather was dull and it seemed a good idea to get to Pisco Elqui well before night time. 

We had a hostel booked called Hostal Cosmo Elqui Valley, which we had wrongly assumed was in Pisco Elqui. It turned out however to be in a place called Rivadavia - literally in the middle of nowhere - but on the road at least. It was only when we literally passed the hostel on the bus, that I said to James ‘we need to get off, I swear that’s our hostel!’. The driver stopped a few hundred meters down the road, and we walked a short distance back to the hostel.
Valparaiso / Vina Del Mar, Chile 🇨🇱 

Cumulative Daily Spend: £9,421.52 (average: £165.29) 💰 

Daily Steps: 16,264 (13.2km) 👣 

Day 57
Another day in Valparaiso…after checking out and leaving our bags in the hostel, we headed back out to the sights we failed to see the day before. The weather today was no where near as nice, however it was much more quiet in the city- which was a good thing. 

We first went to the graffiti steps, which we both had a go sliding down. There was a large group of tourists watching as I sped down, and they gasped as I shot down onto the wet floor at the bottom 🤣Afterwards I smelt of cat piss - not good. 

We walked past many other staircases, all with interesting street art. James took us up and down the many hills of Valparaiso, as if we had all the energy in the world…not! Today it was a special day in Chile (Cultural Heritage Day) so all the funiculars were closed!

In the early afternoon, we decided to catch a short bus to Vina Del Mar- which is a city around 15 minutes from Valparaiso. The bus cost 500 pesos each (so 50p). 

We had been told that Vina Del Mar does not offer much, but seeing as it was the Cultural Heritage Day - we imagined a lot more would be going on. We were right. Near the main square (where there was a clock made from flowers), there were people dressed as Star Wars characters. 

We walked from here to a viewpoint over Vina Del Mar, and then continued to the Presidential Palace. Today was the only day it is open to the public, in the whole year. The queues were insane. We decided against waiting, as we didn’t want to waste the whole day. 

Instead we walked to Brunet Castle which had a much smaller queue. We were lucky as only 10 minutes after we arrived, men (dressed in traditional Chilean clothes) and women (in princess dresses) performed a number of Chilean dances. We watched for a while, but the dancing became very same-y!

After this, we walked along the coast to the main beach, Playa Acapulco. However, the weather wasn’t exactly nice, so we quickly departed and caught the bus back to Valparaiso.
Valparaiso, Chile 🇨🇱

Cumulative Daily Spend: £9,336.88 (average: £166.73) 💰 

Daily Steps: 17,303 (14.1km) 👣 

Day 56
After a mini lie-in and a shower, we inquired at reception regarding the free walking tours which were available in Valparaiso. Luckily, the man running the tour happened to be staying over at the hostel and so gave us all the necessary information (where to meet, what time etc.) It has been a while since our last walking tour, which we had enjoyed - and it seemed the perfect place to do another. Valparaiso is famous for being built on many hills as well as for being very colourful.

The walking tour was due to start at 12, so we had a bit of time to kill. We decided it was a perfect time to get our laundry done - so we called up a local number who said if we arrived in the next 45 minutes, they could get it back to us within the same day. A result. Once we dropped off the laundry, we walked into the main square. 

Before starting the walking tour, we called into a supermarket in a large shopping centre to get some breakfast - croissants, vanilla muffins and orange juice. We stuffed ourselves, whilst waiting for the walking tour to start. 

The guy doing the walking tour (I don’t remember his name which is terrible) was amazing and so informative. Truly passionate about the city and everything it has to offer. We walked around the two main touristic areas - Concepcion and Cerro Alegre. The main highlights were: the many funiculars (which are essential for the functioning of the city) and the amazing street art on literally every corner.

Some interesting facts we learned about Valparaiso:
💎 The education system in Chile is run privately, even for primary and secondary education
💎 There is currently a lot of political turmoil in Chile, as they are in the process of re-writing their constitution
💎The historic quarter of the city was designated a UNESCO site in 2003
💎Valparaiso (in fact Chile in general) is susceptible to many earthquakes. The government have a policy in place, whereby any damage caused by an earthquake above 9 on the Richter Scale, is paid for by the state. Anything less and you have to cover yourself
Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Chile 🇨🇱 

Cumulative Daily Spend: £9,230.46 (average: £167.83) 💰 

Daily Steps: 27,515 (22.3km)👣 

Day 54 & 55
Our last full day on Rapa Nui … sad times 😞 We had a lovely lie in, as we’d seen most of the main sights over the past few days. There was no particular rush. We ate the last of our eggs and cereal and walked out into town.

We had been told the day before by our guide that in Hanga Roa, turtles could often be seen, just off of Pea Beach. We had been there on our first day, but had not really been on the lookout. So we decided that spotting and hopefully swimming with the turtles, would be the focus of our day!

Before heading to see the turtles however, we stopped by at the Artisanal Market. Here there were thousands upon thousands of wooden, stone and volcanic rock Moais. After browsing for about 15 minutes, we selected a medium sized stone Moai. It cost £20…let’s hope the quality lives up to the price! We buy souvenirs from each country we go to, so this would be our representation of Chile ☺️

We also called into the Information Centre, as this is where you are able to get your passport stamped with ‘Rapa Nui’. We were told that the nexr day (annoyingly when we were leaving) that there would be a half marathon held on the island! Just up our street (not literally) 😂

After arriving at Pea Beach (more of a stone platform) it took us all of 5 minutes to locate at least 5 turtles- both mummies and babies! There were some people surfing and asked if it were safe for us to swim. They looked at me as it to say ‘obviously - what do you think we’re doing’! I only asked as the waves were very full on, crashing against the rocks.

After getting confirmation, I stripped off and changed into my bikini. The water was freezing as the temperature wasn’t as hot today and there wasn’t much sign of sun. James guided me to where the turtles were and I swam alongside them. Honestly one of the best experiences of my life- and for free!
Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Chile 🇨🇱 

Daily Cumulative Spend: £8,253.05 (average: £155.72) 💰

Daily Steps: 11,642 (9.5km) 👣

Day 53
After eating our usual breakfast, we headed back out in the car, which was ours until mid-afternoon. We had planned to do something more active (for example - a hike to the highest point on the island), however we realised that in reality, we really just wanted to relax. So we took a trip again to Anakena beach. It was just so peaceful there and the whole point of this little ‘break’ within our travelling had been to recharge. 

The weather was amazing, so we sunbathed and went snorkelling in the sea. We saw many fish, some more tropical than others. There was actually a local there too, who was catching fish with a spear 😳 True island life! After spending the whole morning here, we drove round the coast a little more and parked up at a little secluded beach, which is popular with the locals. Anakena beach was definitely nicer, but the cove was cool as it was so private!

At around 1:30, we drove 20 minutes or so back to town, where we dropped off the car. We had arranged to meet here a guide named Alex (who had been recommended to us by our Airbnb host). We had booked a half day (3.5 hours with him) to see the main sights. This set us back £80. As mentioned, it is very expensive here - hence why we only hired a guide this once. He had his own car to take us round in, so at least that was something. 

The first sight we visited was called Rano Raku. Interestingly, this is the quarry in which all of the Moai were originally made. For this reason, it is often called the ‘home of the Moai’. From here, the structures had historically been transported across the island to their Ahu (stone platform). Many were lost in transportation due to the sheer weight and size of them though. To this day, 397 out of the 887 Moai on the island can still be found at the quarry - ready to be taken to different points around the island.
Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Chile 🇨🇱 

Cumulative Daily Spend: £8,046.05 (average: £154.73) 💰 

Daily Steps: 22,745 (19.2km) 👣 

Day 52

We woke up at around 9am and as per our new routine on Rapa Nui, ate cereal followed by scrambled eggs. James always says “you make the best scrambled eggs” to get out of ever making them himself! James in exchange, made some salami and Nutella sandwiches to bring with us for lunch. 

Today, we had once again decided to avoid tours and guides. Instead we set off on a walk around the west coast of the island, with the aim of visiting a large volcanic crater called Rano Kau. As this was accessible by hiking, it was a free sight to visit- although many people choose to see this as part of a wider tour. 

The hike itself was much longer than anticipated due to two reasons. The first because we couldn’t find the little path which was meant to be a shortcut. The second because the route was entirely uphill. James fell out with me because I had supposedly deceived him about the incline. I told him he was free to turn back at anytime, and I would happily go alone!

After around 1.5 hours, we made it to the top of the hill where we had views of the little town, Hanga Roa. More impressively however, were the views of the volcanic crater. We had avoided looking at pictures as much as possible, so it was a great surprise. Rano Kau is a 324m tall, dormant volcano, which has a diameter of 1.6km! According to the museum in Hanga Roa, it was the second volcano to erupt on the island, around 2.5 million years ago 🤯

As with a lot of the sights we have visited so far here, we were completely alone.  Incredible! We took a few pictures and sat on some rocks overlooking it whilst eating our lunch. There was a grassy footpath around 80% of the crater, and therefore we walked part way around.