New Decade New Continent

During the first four years of our retirement travels, we visited destinations already familiar to us. Esther was born and raised in the Netherlands, I was reared in California, and together we had already done some traveling in Spain and Mexico. Now, at the start of this new decade, we are stepping into totally new territory on the continent of South America.

Faro sign family

Hiking to the southernmost lighthouse on the South American continent

We will begin our trip in the southern part of the continent in Patagonia, where it is now summer in the southern hemisphere. For this part of our journey, we will be joined by our younger daughter Cassie, who is enjoying a gap year after graduating from college last May.

Torre del Paine island

Pehoe Lake, Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile

Patagonia is a vast, mostly treeless plain divided like a spinal cord by the Andes Mountains. Amidst the monotonous landscape, Patagonia includes some incredible natural highlights, including crenulated coastlines, broad chunky glaciers, and stabbing massifs of solid rock.  

Lakes Dstirct

Lake Todos Los Santos, Lakes District, Chile

Toward the end of summer, we will migrate north to lower latitudes and settle for a month in the Lakes District of Chile. Besides its sparkling lakes, this verdant area is also renowned for its active volcanos, cascading rivers, and well-fed waterfalls.

Santiago skyline

Santiago Skyline (taken during layover)

Upon autumn’s arrival, we will stay a full month in the Chilean capital city of Santiago. We expect this to be a more typical month-at-a-time travel experience, as we plan to settle in, and explore the city’s sights, culture, and surroundings.

SteppesTravel Atacama

Atacama Desert, Chile (credit:

For the final month of our trip, we will visit the driest place on earth in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, and the historic capital of the Inca Empire of Cusco Peru. From Cusco, we will conclude our first South American adventure with a 5-day trek to the icon of Inca civilization of Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu 2 (Fodors)

Machu Picchu (credit: Fodor’s)

Admittedly, our first visit to South America and the southern hemisphere will be our most complex and exotic trip yet. As the new decade unfolds, we hope that every strange location and novel experience expands our understanding and confidence as we resume our month-at-a-time travel adventure.

Lago Grey family

Hiking to Glacier Grey, Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile


Feature Image:  Monumento al Sur (To the South Monument), Punta Arenas, Chile, (latitude 53.13 degrees south)

Blogger’s Note:  In the three weeks since we left home on February 16th, we have had six flights, six long-distance bus rides, two rental cars, and eleven different accommodations. Finally, we have slowed our pace, found a reliable internet connection, and taken a day off to catch our breath.

15 thoughts on “New Decade New Continent

    • Thanks, Janis! Your happy dance has me spinning around with joy. Traveling with our daughters is always a pleasure. They have an unlimited supply of energy, which activates my own happy feet. Now that we are through the fast-paced part of our trip, I expect to have more time to write about our adventures. Hopefully, my posts will inspire you to stay out on the dance floor.

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    • Hey Neil! Thanks for the encouragement and book recommendation. Before this trip, I had never been south of the equator. When we finally arrived in Punta Arenas, Chile, we were only 900 miles from Antarctica! I will try to find a copy of “In Patagonia”. I like to read while traveling, especially about the places we are visiting. Currently, I am reading “Turn Right at Machu Picchu” by Mark Adams, in anticipation of our visit there at the end of our trip.

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    • So far so good, Ann. Since Chile is the most economically prosperous country in South America, it has been a good place to start. A lot of people speak English here, and the culture seems more European than Latin. It was interesting to cross the border into Argentina for a week, where it has a more laid-back feel. At the end of our trip, we will be visiting Peru, where I expect to see more of the indigenous influences. I’ll try to post some good pictures.

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  1. Looks like I returned to reading blogs again at the best time. Your itinerary is really amazing, Joe. I’ll be most interested in the Lake District posts because that sounds incredibly interesting and beautiful. Do you know where you’ll be headed specifically in the Desert region, or is that something you’ll plan just before you go? I’m suspecting you have a mix of both planned and spontaneous visits.

    BTW, I am struggling to tell which is Esther and Casssie, which is ultimately a compliment to Esther, I guess! – Marty

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    • Congrats Marty, I think you are now Esther’s favorite blogger! We arrived in the Lakes District a couple of days ago, and it is stunning. From our apartment, we can see the Osorno Volcano, known as the Mt. Fuji of South America. I am behind on posting, so it may be a few weeks before I write about this area. In the Atacama Desert, we will be based in San Pedro de Atacama. Since we will have an AWD rental vehicle, we should be able to improvise pretty well. It is a high plateau region with many salt lakes, flamingos, and hiking trails. The stargazing is also suppose to be excellent. Take care! ~Joe

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  2. Joe, I was so pleased to receive this post. So exciting to know that you have made it to South America. Visiting Chile is no doubt an excellent choice and a place I am Keen to visit. How lovely that your daughter is traveling with you guys, very exciting. I can’t wait to hear more about your trip. We are currently in Vietnam and getting to the end of our 10 weeks adventure, it has been amazing.

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    • Thank you for the morale-boost, Gilda. I have been such a slacker with my blogging, that I didn’t even realize that you and Brian are traveling in Vietnam. I will be jumping right over to your blog to see what you guys are up to. We spent two week there in 2016, and it is on the top of our list when we someday return to southeast Asia. Safe and happy travels!


    • No Guts, No Glory, Dave! Since Chile is relatively civilized, we actually feel like we are just dipping our toes into the possibilities of the South American continent. I have heard that a lot of the pools down here are stocked with piranhas. Best not to be too brave!

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  3. Don’t let it go to your head, but I was so happy to find you in my email folder. Even happier to find you have a great trip in the works, meaning more great posts to come!
    As said above, Patagonia by Chatwin is a lovely read — though it might be out of print. I think used bookshops are your best bet.
    Oh! And I’m really really really looking forward to your post on the Inca. (No pressure. 😉)


    • Hey Christi, I am just astonished that such a well-read and accomplished writer such as you would be happy to find one of my humble travel posts pop up in your in-box. I am also very grateful for the book confirmation. If I can find a copy, I will surely enjoy it, especially now that I have seen a little bit of Patagonia. I too am looking forward to the Peru part of our trip, and sharing some photos of the famous Inca sites. Hopefully, you will find them interesting.

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