Paso Los Libertadores and Mendoza

Pictures from last year’s trip over the Andes from Santiago to Mendoza. It was probably the second most scenic bus ride I’ve taken (first place goes to the Cardinal Samore pass)

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Atacama

The Atacama Desert is known, among other things, for having lithium-yielding salt flats, consistently clear skies for astronomers, and the world’s driest climate. What was supposed to be a quick stopover on my way from Santiago, Chile to Salta, Argentina ended up being an extended stay due to the area’s heaviest snowfall in twenty years. The town of San Pedro is not a bad place to be stranded – I enjoyed the expansive views of badlands (including the Valley of Death, where JPL tested Mars rover prototypes), sandboarding, and flamingo tours. As the forecast for the opening of the pass over the Andes kept worsening, I decided to admit defeat and take the 23-hour bus ride back south to Santiago.

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Chuquicamata

Chuquicamata, in the north of Chile, is the world’s largest open pit copper mine. Built up in the early 1900s by the Anaconda Copper Company, the highly productive mine is a major contributor to Chile’s important copper exports. I visited the mine 30 years after it was nationalized by President Allende and 3 years after the company town of Chuquicamata was completely abandoned, with residents moving to nearby Calama to allow the mining pit to continue to grow. The scale of the place was daunting; trucks that looked minuscule at the bottom of the mine seemed larger than life when the rumbled by up close.

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Hiking in the Andes


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Pictures from an afternoon hike in the Maipo Canyon are below. Relying on public transportation precluded reaching some of the popular destinations higher up, such as Embalse del Yeso, but the sights we ended up seeing were still spectacular.

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Valparaíso

Pictures from a weekend trip to Valparaíso:

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Pochoco Hike

Seeing condors was a fun surprise on this quick hike near Santiago.

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Sights of Santiago

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Cardinal Samore Pass

The bus ride I took from Bariloche, Argentina to Osorno, Chile, was the most scenic bus ride I’ve ever taken. The route along the Cardinal Samore Pass (named for the Cardinal who helped negotiate a peaceful end to the 1978 conflict between Argentina and Chile) winds along Nahuel Huapi Lake and through the Andes. A couple weeks after I traveled through the pass, it was covered by three feet of volcanic stones ejected from Puyehue-Cordon Caulle.

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