Horse Party – Paraguay 

Well after finding ourselves in Chile with no idea what to do with our last month we ended up on a 32hr bus (?!) crossing 3 countries (Chile/Argentina/Paraguay) to try to find a volunteering place with horses and a pool for the last month of freedom!

After a slight detour to a conservation project with a load of hardcore scientists who had no aversion to angry wasp stings/mosquitos/scorpions in their shoes/frogs in their bags we found ourselves in Caacupe. A city outside of Asunción with a heavy German/Austrian influence and a huge church where every year people from all over South America make a pilgrimage to, some on foot for miles and miles.

We ended up as workaways on the last part of the trip so free bed and food in turn for 5hrs work a day. So horsey heaven for me! 13 horses to work with, round pen, riding arena with barrels and little cross bar jumps, rides around the property and palm trees and sunshine on hacks out. Oh and a pool to relax in when I wasn’t riding a horse! Unfortunately it wasn’t so much fun for John who doesn’t like sweating profusely from waking up to going to bed, shovelling horse poo and wee, picking up weeds or cutting grass as to be fair what are his gains……but luckily for him (and unluckily for me!) it was only 2 weeks.

Stella is an Austrian lady who owns the complex, she has pigs, cows, ducks, chickens, dogs and horses as well as 3 homes which are rented out to people as holiday homes as her income. The whole set up has rather opened my eyes to the possibliltes of living in the sun and riding horses everyday and still being able to afford to live!

The horses are various ages and stages of their learning but all beautiful!

Apollo a beautiful but nervous pinto boy-

Paschecko a handsome little speedy roan gelding-

Paloma a bossy little grey mare who has no fear at all-

Fortuna another little bossy boots with lovely paces until you ask for a canter-

The rest of the horses I did various things on the ground with as they weren’t fully broken and I felt they needed a person with longer to build up their confidence to ride.

Canela (who I called chilli for the whole trip) was a very sweet baby girl who I fell a bit for as she was just very clingy but so sweet. Other babies were Chilli, Gina and Aladdin who all got groomed, in hand schooling and cuddles.

So I got to play with horses all morning then hang out in the pool in the afternoon before hopping on again in the evening for a schooling sesh at sunset. Certainly an eye opening experience as to what is out there and what is possible. I have no doubt I’ll be back! (John not so much…..!)


Navimag – Fjords of Southern Chile

Originally Navimag was a transport service used just for goods and livestock. Over the years more and more tourists were interested in the journey; with the chance to see wildlife and and beautiful landscapes more and more people were attracted to the journey.

Tourism is now a major part of the service that Navimag offer. It is not cheap but it gives you the chance to see Whales, dolphins, penguins as well as good experience on board.

The service is available between Puerto Natales to Puerto Mont. It takes 3 nights on the ship which takes you though tight fjords…


and over the open sea. Motion sickness pills recommenced for the sea part.


It did get really cold out on deck on the southern part of the trip so it’s best to wrap up warm.



There is no internet connection so it was a relief to be able to switch off.


There was a guide on the ship who was a biologist that once worked for the Chilean Navy. He told us that they have spotted blue whales as well as Orcas. He claimed to have seen the biggest blue whale he had ever seen just 2 weeks before. We did manage to see whales but sadly not the big blue, there were many Minke whales along the route. They were tricky to get a picture of I managed just a few good ones.



Just got the end of the tale in this one.


On route the captain had a tradition of sounding the fog horn three times when passing a statue of the Virgin Mary for luck on the trip.


The fjords were very difficult to navigate before modern times and many ships have beached themselves. This in particular is actually sitting of another more ancient wreck, 2 4 1.

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This ghost ship was actually beached on purpose as part of a insurance scam! However, they did not get away with it obviously as I would not be telling you this story. The ship now as become a sanctuary for many seabirds. You can see that there are even trees growing on the thick soil which has form from bird poop.

On deck there was also a giant chessboard up the top deck.


The food on board was really good, in fact there was too much of it.

On the 3 day trip we only saw two other large boat


We did also spot a small sail boat, must be an amazing trip on on of those.

We managed to spot loads of dolphins but once again not many good photos.


Amy did manage to get this video

As well a things in the sea we also spotted many different types of seabirds including albatrosses with their huge wing spans.



Loads of random sealions



The times in between seeing sealife was spent just taking in the views.





It was well worth the trip I would recommended it to anyone, although it is down to luck if you will see any whales or not 🙂




Tierra del Fuego – King Penguin Colony

A visit to the King Penguin colony on Tierra del Fuego from Punta Arenas is a whole day trip. We went with a tour operator and started our trip from the port in Punta Arenas on a ship headed acorss to the Porvenir. This was a short journey across the Strait of Magellen where we were lucky enough to spot three whales.

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Before heading for lunch we visited a the museum of Porvenir. We saw lots of information about the lifestyles of the indigenous people followed by the evidence of colonisation and artefacts from Spanish, British, French and German people all coming and making Tierra del Fuego home for a period of time in history. 

After a quick stop for lunch in one of the local eateries (yummy!) we then headed to the town square which was on the piece of land used by the original indigenous tribe as the center of the area too. From this local tribe sadly the last members only actually died out around 50 years ago.

We were back on the road again heading south towards a King Penguin colony which had established itself about 9 years ago.

Before we reached the colony we spotted a lake where some flamingos were feeding. We jumped out to get a closer look.

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It was amazing to finally see king penguins. At this point I had only seen them on TV on in a book, their colours are amazing.

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It was easy to see why they had been called king penguins, not just for their size, but they have a regal air about them. Heads held high.


It was amazing to see them stretch up almost like a human.




Also spotted this guy among the bigger birds,  really reminds you just how different penguins are compared to other birds.


On the road back home we visited a wool processing building which had been in use since the 1940s, this was originally setup by a British firm so all the equipment was from London. It was like stepping in to the past. Most modern wool producers now use modern techniques, however some families with a smaller flock still do it the old fashioned way. The guide showed us how the sheep would be sheared and how the wool would then be processed and sorted in to different grade.

After visiting the wool processing place we headed back home via another ferry where we were lucky enough to see some commerson/panda dolphins swimming alongside the ship. No photos as they are speedy little things but these are the guys borrowed from google! 


Monumento Natural Los Pinguinos

Twenty two miles northeast of Punta Arenas is an amazing Island filled with penguins who have no fear of visitors.


Monumento Natural Los Pinguinos is a protected breeding island for over 60,000 breeding pairs of Magellanic penguins.

The trip is taken by boat which takes 2 hours from Punta Arenas and travels across the strait of Magellan where it is possible to see whales, dolphins and sea lions. On the way over we were lucky enough to spot some Dolphins we had never seen before they were called commerson dolphins..

Even before boat had lowered the walkway we could already see hundreds of penguins on the island though the doorway.


It was shocking how close you could get to the penguins; it was a sign that these penguins had not seen any bad treatment by human visitors; penguins were even bold enough to dig their nests on the human walkway. There were many guides on the island making sure people followed the rules so that this trust was not broken.

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It felt like we needed to take pictures of everything! After the photo frenzy had died down a bit, it was good to just take it all in. It was a great experience, if you like penguins and don’t mind the cold.

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It was hour as we were ushered down the humans paths by the guides. One thing we noticed is that this track only covers half the island, and their is a huge part of the island which must be covered in even more Penguins.

We got back on the boat, penguined out and ready for home



Exploring Chile – Puerto Varas

Next stop Puerto Varas which has a similar reputation and feel to Pucon but a bit more German from the settlers who still have long family ties to German language, schooling and food.

Orsono Over the bay

It was a lovely city on the edge of lake Llanquihue with the imposing volcanos of Osorno and Calbuco at the other side. Volcano Calbuco also erupted in April 2016 but caused much more devastation than volcano Villarica did in Pucon. For this reason it is now closed to tourists until the routes and tracks are improved again.

We opted for more horse riding (of course) followed by a full day of kayaking under the volcano the next day.

The horse riding was in two bits. In the morning we rode with Florenza and Claus a lovely couple who have recently bought a little slice of heaven just outside the village of Frutilla. It is in a protected area of forest which they have permission to open a small eco tourism centre, inviting tourists to walk or ride through the protected forest with these guides who are both passionate and knowledgeable about the area.

P1080146 P1080136 P1080129 P1080148 P1080173 We both rode the 2hr ride and learnt about the maki berry eaten raw by the indigenous people, the ulmo tree used for honey bees as it gives the honey a rich and creamy flavour, we stood in the middle of the forest surrounded by birds singing and insect noise and felt like we were in a different world.

We headed back through the farmland with the volcano Osorno in the background and enjoyed every minute of the ride.

Then I stuck around for a second ride in the afternoon to see the volcano and the lake from the other side of The Valley. Another amazing experience where each hill top opened views of the beautiful lakes and surrounding mountain range.

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After 5hrs on a horse I’d had my fix and headed backwards for an ice cream and early night for the next day of kayaking.

Kayaking was done through an agency called Jass. The agency was great and at a good price compared to others. We decided to go for the whole day kayaking; this trip took us 2 hours out of town to Estero Reloncavi, where the Petrohue river joins the Pacific ocean. This body of water is effected by tides and winds.

We started further south down the Estero  just past Cochamo and worked our way North. First heading towards the peninsula where lunch was waiting for for us. The water was choppy at parts and we were working against the winds.

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We stopped for lunch after 2 hours and 45 minutes on a peninsula owned by a farming family. To get to this peninsula by car from the closest town takes an hour and half. Then after this it is a long walk across the fields, the owners of the farm sustain themselves mostly with what they grow. The keep livestock and had orchards. Lunch was one of the best I had hand in a long time, I was told it was down to the water used to grow the crops which come from a glacier. We had lamb and with a mix of vegetables.

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After the lunch we headed out again, this time Amy and I switched our single Kayaks for the ‘divorce boat’; a 2 person kayak, with Amy driving at the back and and John at the front paddling. Our guide told us it should take about 45 minutes to an hour to finish. When we got out on the water we found the wind had really picked up and was heading right towards us. The waves were much bigger, as we rounded the end of the peninsula the wind funnels down this tighter spot making larger waves. The guide was not expecting this, one of the other kayakers was taken by the strength of the waves and wind back down the river! The guide had to rescue them. We were told to just paddle on the spot, this was really hard, waves crashing over the kayak. It took us another 2 hours of hard rowing to get to the other end, it was a really enjoyable experience.



Exploring Chile – Chiloe

We only gave ourselves 2 days on the beautiful island of Chiloe which may have been an error as it is so peaceful and beautiful we could have spent a week there just chilling! But we hadn’t given ourselves that time so after a quick wander round Ancud and a fresh fish dinner we settled down to sleep as we were up at 5am the next morning for a sea lion, penguin and whale spotting trip.

We had to travel to the west side of the island to an area called Punihuil where there are sea lion colonies and penguin colonies protected by eco tourism companies so are the best to do the trips with.

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We met up with the rest of the people on our tour, all German and got our first taste of Brexit angst….no one talked to us for the rest of the tour once we said we were from the UK. But our tour guide was great and really animated about the wildlife we would see. We were all hoping to see whales but knew that was down to luck. We set off and we only in the boat for 15mins before 3 dolphins popped up alongside the boat, they did a majestic leap each then off they went, too quick for photos but enough to just enjoy the sight.

Then we arrived at the sea lion colony. Incredible. 25,000 sea lions on the island at the last count. The beaches we covered in sea lions. The big boys with their harem of girls and babies around them growling at the next big boy who was surrounded by his ladies too. We learnt that once the male challenges another male and takes the women, the loser male is banished for a while and the new male kills all the babies and starts again making more.

The males were very impressive with their size and actions and were always on the look out to protect their girls. The girls and older babies were playing in the sea and all the little faces kept popping up to observe us as much as we observed them. Amazing views! We saw 4 different beaches on the island and the noise and smell was incredible. 100’s of sea lions on each beach and amazing sights.

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Here is a video showing just one part of the beach, there were so many sea lions.

Then we headed off to the penguin island and saw loads of penguins. Mostly Magellan penguins but a few Humboldts wandering around for good measure. We saw the babies learning to swim and the adults moulting on the shore before they can all set off for the next 6 months at sea before they come back to land to mate, moult and teach their babies to swim.

There were also some other types of birds:

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Unfortunately it was too cloudy for whale spotting but we had a pretty amazing experience regardless.

We got back at midday and as we were leaving the next morning for Puerto Varas I decided to hop on a bus to Castro the island’s capital just to have a quick look at the history, main cathedral, town square and a bit more of the scenery. I wasn’t disappointed. The town was beautiful and the buildings were amazing. It’s full of artists selling homemade clothes, toys, pictures, chocolates, jams and loads more.

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I wandered round the bay, had an ice cream then headed back to Ancud to get the bus early the next day.

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La Serena – Isla Damas Visit

This trip to an animal reserve was the highlight of our visit to La Serena.

La Serena itself is the second oldest city in Chile. This was the first town in Chile where I thought I could be back home. Everything here is familiar there is the same type of cars, fashion, food and prices that I would expect in a well off town back in the UK. It was easy to feel comfortable here, which felt unfamiliar. With the money also comes the arrogance and envy something I did not miss. Overall people were very kind and helpful.

The bay to access Isla Damas is a 2 hour drive out of the city across the desert. We stopped along the way when we spotted some desert foxes and llamas.

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When we arrived at the port we found our boat, Argos II.


On the way out we were very lucky as we spotted a whale, we saw its tail and then appear on the right hand side of the boat. It was exciting as well as scary as it could easily overturn the boat to if it wanted. We did not manage to get a good photo.


After the whale we headed over to where the sea lions bask, much easier to get a clear photo.

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We spotted a marine otter as well having a snack.


All the penguins spotted were Humbolt penguins which are found down the coast of Chile and Peru. The number of Humbolt penguins has been declining due to a combination of over fishing and changes to the environment; they currently have a conservation status of vulnerable.

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There were also a number of different birds.

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This was a great day trip for the city and not too expensive.


Exploring Chile – Pucon 

Well mixed feelings for Pucon. I fell in love with the place at first sight. On the road in it was impossible not to feel the presence of Volcano Villarica. It was enormous, and breath taking, and always in eyesight and just spectacular. 

Pucon itself was a little quiet town, built entirely of wood and surrounded by countryside. My idyllic location, horse riding or trekking offered at every corner and hot springs available day and night. John however felt it was a tourist honeypot which was kind of faceless and had no real history or depth to it. I guess it was sort of in the middle of these two views. It is a far cry from the culture and feeling of Bolivia that’s for sure but that’s what travelling is about after all. 

We hired some bikes that afternoon and planned a 4hr bike ride to see a waterfall in the area, but after John’s bike chain slipped off 3 times we turned around and went back to the bike place for a rethink. By then there wasn’t enough time to get to the waterfall and back so I kindly and graciously gave up my bike (……….) so John could go for a cycle to the river and I forced down an empanada and ice cream instead. Tough times. 

We had booked a trip to the Termas Geometrias at sunset. A hot spring bath system inspired by Japanese baths but fully using naturally hot water from the ground. It was an hour away from Pucon, we got there at 8pm and had 3hrs in the most amazing array of hot baths imaginable. There were cold natural plunge pools and hot pools of differing temperatures ranging from 35-45 deg centigrade. We got to soak in the hot pools as the sun went down, then got treated to an incredibly clear starry night before we had to leave this paradise and go back to real life. I slept all the way back in the bus and barely made it up the stairs to our room before I pretty much passed out from relaxation. Amazing experience! 

Our hostel was lovely and was also a cafe in the daytime, so after a lazy morning we scoffed down homemade bread and scrambled eggs then set off looking for something to do in the day. We’d booked a volcano climb (John) and horse ride (me) for the following day so had been warned by the volcano guys not to do anything to strenous before the 6hr ice hike the next day. We pottered around the town but there were so many places advertising horse rides I couldn’t help but jump on a short one to see a different waterfall as the option was there! 

This was a 2hr starter in preparation for the 4hr ride the next day. Was a bit of a cattle drive with 10 of us in a line to the waterfall. But the ponies were well looked after and happy and that’s my only criteria for horse rides really. 

We got an early night as one of us was climbing an active volcano in the morning. However we woke up at 6am to an overcast cloudy day and really unfortunately John’s volcano climb was cancelled as it would be unsafe to climb in that level of cloud. He was pretty devastated. I set off for my 4hr pony ride at 11am but it was still overcast so I knew there’d be no views of the volcano at all on the whole trek. 

I got to the stables and met Kim, the guide, who is taking a year out from studying veterinary science in Belgium and was so enthusiastic and excited about her job guiding it was infectious! I was asked about my riding experience as she explained they usually tack up a few horses for options depending on the riders. As I said I had about 20yrs experience and had recently broken in a baby her eyes lit up and she pounced on this little bay cutie stood next to me. A 5yo mare who had taken the last few riders on a bit of a ‘ride’ during their treks and needed someone to handle her properly as she needs the experience and miles to improve her trek pony status but was a bit of a handful at times. I glanced at this dosing sleepy girlie and saw how similar she was to azalea from La Paz and immediately fell for her. 

The ride was 4hrs, I’d been searching for another 8hr marathon like San Pedro but couldn’t find any so settled for 4hrs. It was a beautiful ride that took us clambering over rocks, ducking under branches and scrambling over streams (just an average ride with Wendy on Dartmoor!). Sadly the volcano stayed out of sight for the whole ride, but the rest was beautiful. Plus that naughty little girl behaved impeccably and even did her first trek gate! 

After I got back from my ride we met with a Chilean couple who we met in Brazil who popped to Pucon from their home town of Temuco to catch up with us and have a few days on the beach of the lake (one of the many reasons I could have stayed here!). We had some yummy pizza, got jealous of their impending year travels to Australia, had a walk along the beach then went off to bed for the next bus ride and the next city. 

Pucon was definitely a highlight for me. I’m planning on coming back one day for a longer time riding in this area. 


Exploring Chile – Valparaiso 

From sitting in a boat in the Pacific Ocean miles from anywhere our next bus ride took us along Chile’s beautiful coastline to Valparaiso. A stark contrast! Valparaiso is Chile’s boho chic city attracting artists, musicians, actors and of course tourists from all over the world.


The city is a maze of artist’s work on every wall of every jumbled street. It is still used as an active port and area where the Chilean Armada have a base so it’s a permanent hubbub of noise, movement, lights and energy and you can feel it in every corner. The city still has funiculars running from the early 90’s and they are a beautiful and rustic experience with amazing views from the top.



It’s easy to see what attracts artsy types to Valparaiso and we felt quite photography (a word?!) while we were there and embraced the arty hipsters……for about 2hrs……

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then we had an amazing late lunch of Chorallena, the city’s favourite food (scrambled eggs with meat or seafood on a huge pile of chips) and ceviche and by then had our fill of bearded hipsters, the slight tang of urine and weed in the air and ukeleles so headed backing to our hostel and planned the next day on the beach at next door town Viña del mar.

After our pleasant beach morning in what could have been Alicante or Faro we wandered back to Valparaiso with an afternoon to waste. What better way than jumping on a quick tour boat for £2.50 each and seeing the fattest sea lion basking on his favourite buoy and piles of other sea lions just chilling in the bay.

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A few days well spent in the city but I am definitely ready to get back to the countryside!


Climbing Lascar Volcano

With eruptions on record since 1848 with the last in 2007 Lascar is the most active volcano in the region.



We booked a tour in San Pedro with one of the smaller tour agencies. On the day it was just the two of us and the guide in the jeep.

We set off at 5AM from San Pedro to the volcano which was about 2 hour drive across the desert. Our guide to set off earlier than other groups as there was a thunderstorm due later in the day and did not want to get caught up in it.

Before we started the climb we stopped off at the lake near the string of volcanoes. It had snowed over night, it was pretty cold at this altitude; such a change from the dry heat of the Atacama at lower altitude.

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There were some flamingos feeding at the lake.


We drove over to the base of the volcano from the lake and started to ascend.

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The first part was not too steep and we had had some time at altitude so it was not too bad.

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The second half of the accent was more steep and it was slow going, at this point you could really smell the sulphur. As we neared the top the smell got stronger and stronger.



The crater was huge! It has a circumference of about 3m, the other side of the crater could easily be mistaken for another mountain. The eruption that happened here was huge blowing a giant section of the mountain away.


After the crater the summit of the volcano was up the right hand side of the crater, this was much steeper than the previous parts, after a rest it was time to get to the top.

From the summit (5592m) it was possible to get a better idea of the size of the crater. The small dots at the bottom of the picture are Amy and the guide Carlos.



Some more pictures from the summit



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On the way back we also spotted some animals 🙂


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