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3rd April
written by Hazel
After our night at Termas Socos we headed up to a really unique piece of land, the Bosque Fray Jorge National Park.  This park is a large area which includes a steep ridge of land, just inland of the coast.  The clouds get trapped coming off the ocean and rain falls only on the top of the ridge, forming a cloud forest which is overcast almost all of the time, but is surrounded by desert on the inland side, and ocean on the other side.  It was hard to get a good picture of this phenomenon, but I gave it a shot.

The top of the ridge

Looking down to the ocean

We hadn't seen so many trees for a while!

Mossy plants

We also were able to see a bird of prey that my dad had wanted to see for years.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember what it is called, but maybe he can chime in with a comment.  It sat posed for us to get some good pictures (which will be even better when I can mess around with editing them).

Posing for the camera

The drive to get up to this forest involved a very steep dirt road filled with large rocks and lots of warning signs.  Our rental car handled going up like a champ with Justin’s careful driving, but it was a pretty crazy ride.  On the way down a guy leaped out of a car that was coming up and was full of 6 or 7 people, including little kids, and frantically explained to us that there was another car stuck further down.  We took him back down to his friends and gave them some water for their car, which had overheated.  They said they were fine and would be able to get it going again, so we went on, but I hope they made it out ok!

That night we stayed in a cute coastal town, Los Vilos, at Cabañas Mar y Sol, which had a beach view from the patio outside our room and we saw a pretty sweet sunset.

Sunset at Los Vilos

This town was pretty interesting.  It seemed a little more run down than some that we had stayed in, but at the same time, seemed prepared to cater to tourists.  On the streets people would stop you and try to get you to come to their restaurants and it was much easier to feel targeted as an outsider here than other places we’ve traveled.  That first night we went to a Parillada (grill restaurant) run by an Argentinian man.  It seemed like he was the waiter, cook, cleaner, all in one.  We had a very pleasant meal and my dad got into speaking spanish by asking the owner who his favorite Argentinian soccer player was…Diego Maradona (who managed to get England booted out of a World Cup in the 60s) or Lionel Messi (a current star).  He was surprised to discover that the answer was DEFINITELY Maradona and in future research it seems that a lot of Argentinians feel that way!

The next day we wanted to go on a boat around some of the islands just off the coast to see if we could see some more birds.  We knew this was possible because it was mentioned in our guide book, so we set off towards the docks.

Los Vilos dock

With the help of one of the guys advertising a restaurant we were able to hire a boat to take us out and we set off for the islands.

Boat ride

The ride was fairly choppy with some pretty big waves, so it was tough to take pictures, but we saw quite a bit of wildlife.

HUGE pelicans

Humboldt Penguins - sorry they are blurry!

We were impressed these guys could get up so high on the rocks

Very ugly sea lion


Booby colony

Colorful boats

The boat trip lasted over an hour and we saw a few new species of birds.  I was really happy to be out on the water since I love being out in a boat.  We had a tasty lunch at the restaurant advertised by the guy who helped us get the boat and then headed out for our next adventure, down south.

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