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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.