Monthly Archive: October 2014

Cordoba and Oktoberfest

Puerto Iguazu to Cordoba was another long haul bus ride – 22 hours.  We were excited when we when finally got in, especially since it was the first “big city” we’d seen in a while.

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We spent the first day walking around, checking out the sights.  The sights included some cool churches and parks, and that was mostly it.  We also might have found a movie theater playing Gone Girl in English.

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I visited Cordoba when I studied abroad and while it is a nice city, it wasn’t originally on our list of places to visit because there isn’t really much to do in the city as a tourist (at least not compared to other places we wanted to visit).  Cordoba quickly got added to our must see list when one of our roommates in Cochabamba reminded me that there is an Oktoberfest celebration nearby!  Luckily the timing was perfect, so after our first night in Cordoba, we jumped on a bus for a two hour ride to Villa General Belgrano.  Villa General Belgrano is a village of about 6,000 people settled by German sailors in the 1930s and was also apparently popular with Nazis escaping to Argentina after WWII.  The town is adorable with tons of Bavarian influences and it seemed like the village belonged in the Alps instead of the middle of Argentina.  And there was lots of German food and beer!

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We went to the festival on a low key Tuesday about an hour after the gates opened and were some of the first people to arrive, but eventually the venue filled to about half way.  There really wasn’t much German beer, but there were around 20 craft breweries from around Argentina.  In most of South America, there isn’t much craft beer (and if there is some, you probably don’t want to drink it!) so we’ve been drinking a lot of Budweiser-type beer.  While not all of the craft beer we had was great (mint? no thanks), it was at least a nice change from the usual tasteless stuff.  And the day was beautiful  – 70’s and sunny – so we had a great time sitting outside drinking beer and listening to polka bands.

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Iguazu Falls

It was a bit of a journey to get to Puerto Iguazu (town near the falls) from Salta. It took 3 different buses and 25 hours of bus riding before we finally arrived at our destination.

Our main objective for visiting this area of Argentina was to check out Iguazu Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in the world (6th largest in terms of average annual flow). We ended up heading to the national park that contained the falls on our second day in Puerto Iguazu. The park was approximately 30 minutes from town, so was pretty easy to access.

The park contained a few trails which you could take to get different views of the falls and the surrounding environs. Here is a selection of the photos of the falls we took:

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Apparently the water hasn’t always been this brown. The color of the water is a result of deforestation along the river. So when the water level is high, instead of passing over nearby vegetation, it is passing over soil, giving it its brown color. When Erin had visited in 2007, the water was clear. Here are two pictures that show the stark contrast in color, and in general water volume. (Erin’s photo from 2007 is first, and our recent trip is second):

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While ‘soiled’ water isn’t as picturesque as crystal clear water, the falls were still massive and well worth the visit. I was even able to capture a mystical double rainbow on one of the side waterfalls!


We didn’t do much outside of our visit to the Iguazu Falls in Puerto Iguazu. The only other thing we checked out was the ‘Tres Fronteras’, which was a viewpoint in Puerto Iguazu where you could see 3 countries at once: Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil.


Here is me with my hands in Paraguay and Brazil, while standing in Argentina:



After exploring San Pedro de Atacama for a few days, we left Chile and headed to Salta, Argentina.  Since we had to do a border crossing, we took a day bus (we generally try to do night buses whenever possible – long rides go faster when you’re asleep plus you don’t have to pay for lodging for a night!) and were treated to some beautiful scenery!  We had to cross over the Andes to get into Argentina and when we got closer to Salta, there were some very colorful hills.

Road to Salta

Colorful Hills

When I studied abroad in Argentina in college, I didn’t make it all the way north to Salta, so I didn’t know what to expect of the city.  After so much time in Bolivia, the city seemed very western and the architecture a bit European.  There was a nice plaza in the center of town with a cool pink church on one side and tons of cafes with outdoor seating lining the other sides.

Brandon in Salta Church on the Square Outdoor Dinning Salta Street

We spent our time exploring the different neighborhoods, parks and restaurants.  On my list of restaurants to check out was a little place called Patio de la Empañada.  It was sort of like an empañada food court with tables in the middle and different restaurants lining the walls.  When you walk in, every one of the ladies tries to get your attention to go to her booth – it was a little intimidating!  We ended up just going with the first lady we saw and tried a variety of baked and fried empañadas.

El Patio de la Empanada

There was a hill on the edge of town with a nice park at the top that we went to a few times.  One day we took the teleferico up and down but the day we left, we walked it instead – we figured it would be good for our legs to get a little movement before our 25 hour bus trip to Puerto Iguazu.

Teleferico Ride View from the Top

San Pedro de Atacama

We took a minivan from the border of Bolivia to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.  We knew exactly when we crossed over to Chile – the roads suddenly became paved!  We spent 3 days hanging around San Pedro – it was a really cute little town although very touristy.

Main plaza San Pedro

On the first evening, we did a “star tour” out in the desert.  It was absolutely beautiful and it was crazy how many stars we could see. Our guide for the evening worked for the ALMA project, which is one of the biggest astronomical projects in the world. Some of the biggest observatories in the world are centered in the Atacama Desert, since the area is one of the driest in the world (not many clouds) and it has decent elevation.

We also spent a morning biking out to the Valley of the Moon.  It was a really nice ride with weird rock formations and huge sand dunes to see on the way.  We didn’t see many other people on the road and it was cool being all alone in such a striking landscape.

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Jeep Tour of Southern Bolivia – Volcanoes and Lagoons

The rest of the jeep tour was spent driving through some really beautiful landscapes.  We saw some cute animals…

Andean Fox Rabbit/Squirel

some crazy rock formations…

Lion Rock

Arbol de Piedra

and a lot of volcanoes and colored lagoons (complete with flamingos).

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Laguna Verde

Along the way, we saw some steaming geysers and bubbling sulfur pools.

Geiser Boiling Sulfer

We stopped to relax in a hot spring one day to break up the drive before continuing on through snow capped mountains and then the Dali Desert.

Thermal Pool Jeep and the mountains Dali Desert

The accommodations were definitely the most “rustic” that we’ve stayed in so far.  Most of the roofs of the hostels were held down by rocks (and tires!) and the final night, we put on almost everything that we owned to try to stay warm.

Second Night hostel Last night dinner

The tour ended at the border between Bolivia and Chile (which was one lonely building) where we said bye to Roberto and Julia and took a transfer to San Pedro de Atacama.  Overall, our 4 day jeep tour has been one of the highlights of our trip so far!

Crossing out of Bolivia Roberto y Julia