Wicked Campers: Chile Road trip
After a month of suffering in Patagonia, we decided to retreat north to Santiago to lick our wounds and edit some photos. Winter was quickly descending upon the Southern Hemisphere and it seemed high time to take advantage of the great restaurants, bars and indoor plumbing that Chile's capital city has to offer.
As much as we enjoyed catching up on some editing, writing and relaxation, our minds quickly turned northwards and to the adventures lay ahead. Chile is a country of extremes and it seemed appropriate that we ended this chapter of our South American adventure in the Atacama desert, the driest place on earth, having started in the wet and windy southern Patagonian regions.
After a sketchy start negotiating Santiago's hectic traffic, we made it onto Ruta 5 - the delightful Chilean stretch of the Pan American Highway that runs all the way from Alaska to Patagonia. The highway is beautifully maintained by South American standards and there is barely a stretch that doesn't offer spectacular views of the Pacific ocean to the West and the jaw-droppingly large Andes Mountain Range to the East.
The hardest decision to make was not where to go, but rather how to get there. Chile is an impossibly long and thin country, with some amazing (and remote) locations lying between Santiago and San Pedro de Atacama. Neither an expensive flight or a 30 hour bus ride would cut it, so we started looking around for other options. It turned out Wicked Campers, a camper van rental company, had recently opened up a South American operation, with the option to pick up a van in Santiago and drop it off in San Pedro.
We contacted Wicked Campers about the possibility of gaining their support towards producing a new film. To our delight, they provided us with a great set of wheels with which to explore the Chilean coastline, Andes Mountains and everything in between.
We allowed ourselves what seemed like a possibly over-generous 11 days to complete this most epic of road trips, but boy were we glad we did. It proved near impossible to drive more than a few miles without stopping the van to take a photo. We alternated between staying in tiny Andean mountain towns and cute little Pacific Fishing villages and even capped our trip off with a chilly night spent watching the milkyway sweep over the Atacama Desert at 5,000m altitude. It simply wouldn’t be feasible to recount every sunset, starscape and stunning vista we encountered along the way in writing, so here is the film we made for Wicked Campers, that should paint the picture a thousand cliches simply can't: