John cooked up a simple website dedicated for the sale of Burt with price, detailed specs, pictures of interior and exterior, and some mood photos of the travel.

Please take a look by clicking on the link below (or above), and/or feel free to pass it on to friends and people with travel bugs. Give us a bell if you are interested, if you have any comments or questions or just fancy a chat. Our contact details are at the bottom of the Sale site. (it takes a few seconds to load)


We would like to hear from you.

Warm regards, Betti and John


Since my last post (Argentina -Cordoba. ahem a year or so ago) we have traveled another year and a bit, visited the Antarctic, shipped across the Atlantic to Dakar, Senegal (West Africa), traveled through Senegal, Mali, Mauritania and Morocco (in 4 months) before we arrived back to Europe.

Now we are back to the UK where John has successfully re-imported our truck BURT. In these few weeks we have visited family, partly sorted our belongings and have been researching our future. To keep our costs to the minimum, we are staying with mother for these weeks until our new adventure begins. Which hopefully will be a home in a warm and sunny place where we can settle for a while running a small business involving living in a more natural way, working with and healing animals and plants, welcoming visitors from all over the world.

Details are not worked out fully but we have a strong intention to continue live life the way we learned how to throughout the past 4 years; freely.

Thank you all who followed our journey through this blog (or on facebook “Betti John Burt”) It truly meant and still means so much to us especially in times of challenges and doubts as in the times of happiness.

Gratitude, Betti and John

Portugal August 2016

August 2016

106. Cordoba, Argentina

We are about to mark our 2-and-a-half-years-on-the-road anniversary and this trip was filled with pretty amazing stuff, unbelievable experiences, magnificent places, at times challenging situations and wonderful people. One thing we’ve never been short with was Time. We were given the bliss of time for relaxing and enjoying ourselves on sunny beaches or breezy mountain tops and everywhere between the two for as long as we wanted, so at this point we decided to dedicate some of our time to some people who don’t have as much of it and need help.

Ok, here is the less sublime version what I’m trying to say; we decided to sign up to the workaway website where people, families, organisations are looking for help for building projects, usually organic farming, animal care, wine making, beer brewing, business help and so on. The basic principal of it that travellers (usually backpackers) sign up for a week or few to help with whatever need to be done on a farm or small business in return for accommodation and food (sometimes absolutely delicious local delicates and home-made wonders) Most of the time, the main reason at both sides is to gain cultural experiences, learn the language, make friends and enjoy life while giving/getting help. This felt perfect for us and after a few weeks searching, exchanging emails with a few people we finally found our place and agreed to come to the Cordoba sierras.

The farm was owned by a young family of Italian husband Michele, Argentinian wife Michaela (Mice and Mica!) their twin 5 year old girls and many animals including llamas, horses (one of them Roma thinks she is a human!), dogs and cats and lots of chickens, ducks, turkey and geese. Mica is a herbalist and works with the plants that grow wild on their 2000-3000 acre land at 1600m altitude. She makes tisanas (a sort of dried leaves for tea), bags them and sells them to markets and shops in town. So basically she needed help with this process amongst with odd jobs like fence fixing and building, solar system fixing, help with the animals etc.


In emails we agreed to do a week or so worth shopping (the shopping list was full of many kilos of pasta, pasta sauce and rice -which made John worried slightly as he/we cannot eat wheat or have a heavy carbohydrate diet) also to pick up two other “workawayers” from the last town and bring them up to the farm as well. We reached their farm with a whole day drive from the last town, and when we got there we found out that Michele (the husband) with the twins going away for a week. This took us with a bit of a surprise but what can you do, Micaela is still on the farm and she was going to coordinate us what to do.

When we reached the farm gate she was waiting for us with a warm welcoming smile and was very happy to meet us all. The two workawayer girls (A Scotish and an American gal) were accommodated to a cosy wood cabin overlooking a gorgeous river while John and I choose to stay in Burt and parked up at a good spot not too far from the main house. As it was pretty much the end of the day we just piled in to the main house making delicious tisanas of Mica’s herbs, cooked some dinner, cracked open a bottle of Cabernet and chatted away in to the late night hours.

I fell in love with Micaela almost instantly as we met her. She was so friendly and fun and her love for nature, the animals, the plants radiated through as gentle kindness. I spent the first week with her out on the fields collecting medicine plants, bringing back to the large garage (or galpon as they call it) and prepare them for drying. I was learning more and more Spanish and she was gaining her English. The dry plants were ready to peel and put them in to small teabags. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Las-Tisanas/353551018055582?fref=ts


As days were going by we found out that Mica has a very similar taste and diet to ours -no wheat, no dairy, no sugar, lots of fresh plants, vegetables, eggs, meat and some wine! So she radioed her neighbours, a gaucho family who keep cows and ordered a leg! Two days later Julio appeared with a back leg of a cow, skilfully cut them up and from then we were sorted. Every evening we had an amazing royalty supper with meat, flame-baked pumpkin, fresh green leaf veg from the garden or quinoa. Just as we were running out of our wine supply, Michele returned with more. For the second week Mica had to leave. We had a different experience this time. As “work experience” concerned I enjoyed the first week with Mica’s energy and enthusiasm, her teaching me about the plants and their healing properties all were priceless for me but this week we had some great hiking with Michele who showed us around their enormous land. He is passionate about outdoors and lives and breaths for paragliding

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John re-wired and boosted their batteries and built a new stand for the solar panels for more effective charge, plus built a fence for the llamas and fixed the stone fence for a horse Killa that need to be separated from the others.

Once Mica returned we still had a few days together. She and I got in to the habit to walk up to the top of a nearby hill at sunset with their dog, Diakonos, light a pipa and smoke away some relaxing herbs while quietly sitting and watching the orange sun setting behind the distance hills. I loved this time.

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In the last couple of days on the farm Mica taught me about the basics of making wine and sugar-free marmalade and how to make our own tincture of medicine herbs. It was some of the best days of this travels.

Mica and Mice packed us up with all sorts of goodies, jars of jam, pig fat(!) (which we learnt to love for cooking) bags of Algarroba (a natural and traditional in this area substance made out of the seeds of algarroba tree and used instead of flour -makes heavenly pancakes) and our beloved bitter tinctures of anti-parasetic drops that we started having while there. As we were leaving they said to go to Capilla Del Monte a quirky, small town at the feet of the sierras, about a day drive where they have a small land with a house and we can park up in their garden (the gate is unlocked)

(Mica and Michele built a wonderful mud house as a guest house about 500 meters from their family house. In case you want a quiet, peaceful and extraordinary experience you can stay at their guest house.)

Guest House photo by Las Tisanas

Guest House
photo by Las Tisanas


Capilla Del Monte is actually somewhat a famous town for… brace yourself… UFO landings! According to the stories being told by normal looking locals, Uritorco the nearby peak is an active landing spot for spaceships and such. The stories go way back in the 1930’s where people were spotting strange beings dressed in tight-fitting suit or seing strange lights and objects and regularly spotting them ever since. There are also large burnt circled areas (some 122m diameter, some smaller) in Uritorco. One occasion there were more than 300 people witnessed a “landing” and found burnt marks the following day at the location where they measured that the nearby rocks have been heated to a temperature of 3000C. Hm… Though the official explanation is the good ol’ meteorological phenomena caused by super-charged ions or something.

This was certainly a place we wanted to stop by and look around! So we appreciated Mica and Mice’s offer and headed to Capilla del Monte. We found their property, sqeeeeeezed Burt through the gate (I mean 5mm each side of the gate) and parked up. We though we could stay for a night or two. (we wanted to catch up with emails -no internet for about a month) The town centre was a short 8-10 mins and was cute as a cupcake. The main shopping street is full of trendy or hippy shops, cafes and bars. In each shop window there are little green aliens waving at us and we couldn’t help ourselves and bought UFO T-shirts. It is really a must! We also found retro-looking grand cafe. High ceiling, coffee and tea served in lovely china by appropriately dressed waitresses (white blouse and black skirt) Very friendly people, good atmosphere and Mica’s land is further enough of town that it was peaceful and quiet at nights. We loved it here and eventually we stayed for 10 days!

After our month in the sierra and around, we finally had to leave to meet our friends, the Brit family at the Uruguayan border to say goodbye to them before they leave the continent for Africa.

(unfortunately we lost these 2 months worth of photos so no pictures of Capilla and the aliens…. Spookie, huh?)

Next, Uruguay…






105. Argentina, Atlantic Coast

From the Chilean border (Chile Chico) we took a fairly straight line to the Atlantic coast, for a couple of long and boring days. It was pretty uneventful throughout arid, dry, oil fields.

When we arrived at the coast, Caleta Olivia (also not an exciting place) we realised that the last time we saw the Atlantic was nearly 2.5 years ago when we shipped Burt from England to Canada. It made quite nostalgic…

From here we headed up north by the coast to Comodoro, a huge city with the option of stocking up on essentials and change our dollars to ARG pesos. It took hours to find a guy who was willing to change dollars at a blue market rate and when all was done, we decided to drive further north not on the paved highway (still rocking donkeys, pretty boring) but on the dirt coastal road in the desert which was far more entertaining.

Spent a night in a dry riverbed in the desert surrounded by rheas (very similar looking big birds to Emu) and Guanacos but the real deal was the night sky and at one point we saw the biggest, most brightest meteor-fall which took absolute loooong seconds and lit up blue and purple flames as it was crossing the dark sky above us. It was extraordinary.

The next day we headed on but (quite disorganised as we are) needed water. In the desert. A 20-30 something km on our way we knew there was a village -or at least we thought it was a village, and planned to ask for water there. As we turned off from the main dirt road towards this little town Bahia Bustamente we approached to a gate. This must’ve marked the edge of the village, according to our map. It read on the gate in English that “Mortorhomes are welcome”. That was reassuring so we opened the gate and entered.

We found ourselves in a village looking place with a few larger tin buildings and many smaller cookie-cutter type houses, then a sign saying “Reception” arrow this way, and “Restaurant” arrow that way. In front of the restaurant there were a handful of Northern American tourists with their super high-end cameras and big lenses climbing in to a Land Rover with a German guy saying goodbye to them. As we approached and stopped the engine the German guy asked the driver to wait and turned to us asking if we wanted to join them? Eer… this was unexpected and we asked what this was about. He said they are going on boat trip to the nearby islands to watch sea birds and the sea-lion puppies, then he added that we can stay for the night or as many days as we wanted and we don’t have to worry about paying for this boat trip and we should just go because it is very special. Then he said goodbye to us as he was going away for a couple of weeks right then and assured us that we will be taken care of by his assistant.

We didn’t think twice, said thanks to this mysterious nice guy and followed the Land Rover. We had a spectacular afternoon with some very interesting people. 3 lovely couples were there (one guy worked for NASA the other guy was a photographer film maker worked for National Geographic and so on) And these were only the guests. In the boat with us was a marine biologist, our guide who was very passionate about his subject. It, indeed was very special.

On our return, we were a bit confused and not sure who we need to talk to, we entered the restaurant/bar which was so cool and sort of rustic chic and stylish. Very unexpected. In there was a delightful lovely young lady who knew we were coming and reassured us that his boss filled her in about our situation and offered us to stay wherever we wanted as long as we wanted. Then she said that we can take water as much as we needed and that it was spring water coming from the nearby mountain. Wow! This all was very nice. However we knew that the stay will be very expensive so we thought we will just stay one night and move on tomorrow. After we filled up with the water and we found our spot we asked for the price for the camp. She said that the camping is free and we are welcome to use the shower and facilities if we needed.

Wow. We were very happy and grateful for this amazing place and their generosity. At this point we felt we want to pay something and booked dinner at their restaurant. It was all very lovely and formal that we felt we should dress up neat and nice for the dinner. This was literally the first time in 3 years that we were eating in a nice restaurant with white table cloth and everything. Now this was something. We found out that for every season they hire a fantastic and talented young chef to take care of the restaurant. We were in for a treat.

The mystery guy we met earlier was the grandson of Don Lorenzo Soriano the funder of Bahia Bustamente who came here in the 1950’s looking for seaweed which he did find here and begun to harvest with his family. When the seaweed business went huge over the years and decades, the family built the town with school, church, police station, and houses for the over 400 employees. By the end of the century the family eased off from the seaweed business and replaced it with sheep farming, plus they have decided to offer a wide range of tourism activities such as hikes, horse riding, boat tours, trips to the million year old petrified forest or to a huge canyon and so on. Now it is a private village, a very special and intimate place. They thank their quiet but high profile reputation to a New York Times journalist who visited the place about 10 years ago and printed a very attractive article about it. And the place and its people live up to all expectations until today.

BAHIA BUSTAMENTE http://www.bahiabustamante.com/home-en.html

Needless to say we spent 4 days here, taking hikes and a couple of tours (we paid for those of course) and spent every evening in the restaurant enjoying the fantastic 3 course meal (where somehow somewhere there were a little seaweed smuggled into) with gorgeous wine and great company.

From here we headed to the Peninsula Valdez to meet our friend, Laura (the daughter of the family we spent 3 weeks in El Bolson) When we left the family a month and a half ago Laura said she would catch up with us when we get to Peninsula Valdez. And here we were and there she was coming.

She surprised us with bringing her friend and the 4 of us spent a very fun few days together. They came with their pickup with a pop-up tent at the back so camping was possible. We found ourselves a fantastic and quiet spot on top of the cliffs and spent the days walking around, chatting and eating well.

Peninsula Valdez Argentina

Peninsula Valdez


A few days later they had to head back home but John and I decided to stay for a day or two. We haven’t even seen the killer whales yet. One evening we went for a little walk along the cliffs and found another beach. There we bumped into a US couple who were also overland travelling with their Ford motorhome for about 2 years. We asked them if they fancied to camp on the other side where we were so we can have a glass of wine and chat. We had an absolute ball with them, Erica and Sam for about 4 more days and not just finished all our beer, wine supply but we even opened the world’s cheapest, worst most undrinkable rum we bought in Venezuela a year ago and finished that as well. During the day, with the two vehicles we drove to the north side of the peninsula in the hope to see the whales.


Here a motorbike couple Michele and Brian joined us as well for a couple of days and had a great time. It was super windy so the bikers’ nights in their tent were a bit more eventful but they stayed with us for 3 days.


Well, every fun comes to the end and after many days at this fantastic spot we all said goodbye and one by one we left the peninsula heading different directions.

John and I were in contact (through the workaway website) with a family for a couple of weeks now, who were seeking help on their farm in Cordoba. We decided to drive up and have a look at this place and work away a little bit.

Next, Cordoba, Argentina.






104. Chile, Patagonia

It’s been almost 5 months since I last posted anything due to simple laziness. Though the past few months weren’t uneventful I just couldn’t pull my finger out, sit down and write about it.

Since February we’ve been to Chile, back to Argentina where we did a few weeks work on a family farm, then said goodbye to our friends in Uruguay, travelled up north on the coast of Brazil to Sao Paulo where I flew out from to Europe for 3 weeks to see my family and back to Brazil. SO loads to catch up on…

CHILE:  After our glorious month in El Bolson we finally piled ourselves away from the warmth of the loving family and headed to Chile. Despite our lack of research we, by chance crossed the border at a great place, Futaleufu where we ended up staying for a week. A very sweet and charming little village full of outdoorsy opportunities. Here we had a chance to hike and walk a little each day and as Futaleufu has few of the World’s best rivers we took on for a day rafting tour which was absolutely excellent fun. NOTE: if you consider doing the same, please use these guys (much better value than other companies, highly skilled English/Spanish speaking guides, lots of fun and their office also a study centre for environmental research for keeping the rivers clean -fascinating conversation with the first-a-bit-grumply-then-very-friendly and very enthusiastic scientist) Please support them if you can:  http://www.exchile.com/

Apart from the well needed exercise and good air, we of course visited each bar and tasted all types of beer in town, besides as it is a little touristy place it has a good mix of nationalities -ex-pats, travellers, holidaymakers we met a few good eggs so no wonder we forgot to leave for a week.

Futaleufu, Chile February 2015

Futaleufu, Chile
February 2015

After we left we had a couple of weeks of Patagonian boondocking heaven. We found the best places to camp mostly by crystal clear rivers and lakes throughout as we were travelling south on the Carretera Austral.

As the “highway” mostly wash board dirt road we had a bracket cracked and needed a good welding place just by the time we got to Coyhaique, a reasonably large town with shops, banks and cafés. This was also handy as this town will be our last town  until we get back to Argentina so besides the welding job we could stock up here with food and essentials but most importantly change money for Argentina. *Those who are not familiar with the situation in Argentina: The best have dollars -physically, and change on the blue-market with a much better rate than sticking your credit card in to an ATM and pull out ARG pesos at a very bad rate. So in Chile we have been taking large amount of Chilean cash everyday with an intention of change it to Dollars before we cross the border. This town seemed our best bet to change our Chilean pesos to US dollars as they had proper banks with reasonably good exchange rate.

Spent a few days in this town and once the welding and shopping was done we were ready to leave, only had to pop in to the bank to change the cash. That’s when the crap hit the fan for us. We were robbed. In the bank. By the cashier guy! This was a proper “first world” bank with standard equipments, security cameras, white shirted polite bank assistants and so on. We handed the large amount of pesos which was about 2.5 inches thick batch of bank notes (counted out the exact correct amount we wanted) The guy took the batch, stepped aside (out of sight) for 40 sec and on his return he counted US$1000 (worth of pesos) cash less that we handed to him less then a minute ago.  You know, first you just think he made a mistake so asked him to put the notes back in to the counter machine and count it again. (He had the wooden face of a cold blooded criminal that some of the excellent Hollywood actors can imitate so well in those Blockbusters)  Then very quickly it dawned on us that we undoubtedly just have been fucked. From this moment it was our words against his. We did everything we could -made a scene, asked for the manager, insist to look at the cameras, went to the police and so on. But we knew… the money was gone.

We played the scene over and over again in our heads, we analysed it inside and out, we looked at it from a thousand point of views but what we have been left with was a stinging, stomach-sinking feeling that we knew time will fade. My only “positive” view on it was that if we had to loose this money, I’m glad it didn’t happen at a gunpoint in Venezuela or somewhere like that.

As soon as we realised that there’s nothing anyone can do about this, we pack up and got out of there. We headed south with the intention to cross back in to Argentina in the next day or two.

We reached Lago Gral. Carrera and for our surprise we spent a week around this beautiful lake choosing different locations each night. As much as we wanted to leave Chile asap, we found this area and the people quite soothing and friendly. I guess we just had to go with this natural timing of process.

Puerto Guadal near Chile Chico Chile February 2015

Puerto Guadal near Chile Chico
February 2015

Chile Chico February 2015

Chile Chico
February 2015

Next, Argentina, Atlantic Coast….


103. Argentina #2 El Bolson

Back in Mexico, a year and a half ago we met a truly wonderful and fascinating couple -a Swiss husband and his beautiful Aztec (Argentinian) wife. They have been married and travelling for over 11 years up and down on the American continents. Back there they invited us to a very special event, an Indian Gathering in Zacatecas, Mexico that was insane and quite magical at the same time.


This time they were back to Argentina for a couple of months visiting her mum in El Bolson. As we were in touch, we knew that they were going to be around when we are so we were in contact with each other to see if we can come and visit them. We thought we would come for a jolly lunch for a couple of hours but we ended up staying for 3 weeks. It was one of the highlights of our journey.

It turned out that Mama’s water tank and its stand was broken and damaged a few months ago leaving her without water every evening, meanwhile the roof of her back house has rotted away and was falling down. The job was too much for the family and mum could not afford hiring someone to do all these so John offered to do the roof and build a new water tank-stand.

John absolutely loved the job, he remade the whole shed with the new roof and built a beautiful new stand for the water tank.


Within these three weeks we had a fantastic time with them. We got to know the rest of the family, the other sisters and their family, even a cousin and some friends came and stayed for a few days. Mama took wonderful care of us with delicious home-grown and homemade food and every day there was a special something to do, make, enjoy or visit. We made trips to El Bolson for on market days, visited a friend who lives in the woods like hobbits, went to a festival with one of the sisters who is just adorable and mad as a hatter, or when the sisters came over we had wonderful dinner together had a few bottles of local beer and stayed up talking till 2AM.


Once the jobs were done, our friend, and son-in-low for Mama and who was trained by the Lakota Indians 30 years ago, set up and performed an ancient Lakota ceremony that lasted one whole day and a whole night, and which wrapped up our stay here so beautifully and was very special. An unforgettable experience.

It took 3 days to say goodbye as we just didn’t want to leave. John kept finding more jobs to do we kept coming up ideas why we should leave this morning. Maybe later, in the afternoon… then “OK, one more dinner, but we are leaving tomorrow”. Then, something else came up… and so on. We even got a beautiful leaving presents from one of the sisters. Eventually the day came, and we really had to say goodbye and move on. It made us all deeply moved when we realised the love and the bond that developed between all of us. We don’t know how the future unfold itself for us but we would like to put our intention out there for coming back and visit our Argentinean family.


Next, Chile…

102. Argentina #1


During this trip I developed this new excitement when we’re heading to a border to cross to a new country. I was very excited to cross to Argentina -even that the Bolivia-Chile-Argentina crossing was a bit of a shamble (at Paso De Jama) and caught up for the whole day.


Northern Argentina is beautiful and quite Southern Bolivia-like in scenery so didn’t look very different but the atmosphere and the people were very different.

We didn’t have much time to spend (still trying to get down to Mendoza -over 2000km by Christmas), it was the 1st of December, and John discovered a major issue that the bushes that hold the driving cab were broken -well, one was lost and the other one was broken so we needed a solution asap.

It’s been probably happening for months and with all those expensive workshops we visited, no one noticed it. But now, we knew it so we had to stick with paved, mainly highways to stay on the safe side and not to put too much strain on to the broken part until we find a solution. For a while John had been feeling that the cab has been slipping downwards and pushing-pulling things to the wrong ways, such as the gear stick and the steering wheel just to mention a couple.

In Jujuy, a bigger city we found an official Mercedes service. There where we had the first shock of the Argentina lunch time. OK, we are not the earliest risers in the morning so didn’t really rush to get to the garage first thing in the morning, but we got there by 11.36 where and when we found out that it is closed for lunch till 4.30 PM!! We missed it by 6 minutes and now we have to wait for 5 hours just to find out if they could at all help or have the parts. So John and I had a fed-up and stressed fight about nothing till it was open again. Turned out that they did have the parts which we bought but said they can’t do the job as they don’t have the capacity to service trucks although they could recommend the Mercedes service in San Miguel de Tucuman (about 450km) where we might have more luck. We headed off but first we wanted to stop in Salta, a city about 100 km south from here for a couple of days to sort a few things.

There we met some quality travellers; the famous pawsontour.com travelling with two woofers, (we heard of them, over a year ago, travelled parallel with them, read their website and I believe we were even friends on facebook but until now we haven’t actually met in person), a sweet Belgian couple and, an unhinged, excellent Polish family with 3 tiny kids (last one was born on the road!) and an awesome South African family with two teenage kids. This campsite was not very relaxing or beautiful in any stretch but was one of those places where we can meet fun people then we don’t want to leave for a few days -despite the extreme heat 35C here, we actually stayed 5 days and got good lessons of how to BBQ Argentinean fillet steak, aka LOMO. A South African surely knows the tricks and secrets about BBQ-ing. So we kept practicing to have the best ASADO (BBQ), pretty much every evening. (after we stuffed our faces with delicious homemade ice-cream at the bakery every day + with free wifi)

All good things come to an end, and eventually we had to leave -the cab problem was still hanging over our heads, plus we had to sort out a vehicle insurance somewhere as we have been driving all this time in Argentina without it. We headed south for another 300-350 kms to Tucuman (through a fantastic 2 days drive on the stunning and epic Gaucho Trail)


Once in Tucuman, we found the recommended Mercedes service where they said they can’t do the job and, once again we were directed to another garage in town. Though were more aware of the siesta time now we still ran in to it. It is almost impossible to avoid the inconvenience of the siesta as it lasts for most of the day.

After a few hours wait we eventually rolled into the garage and they started the work on the cab. They let us stay for the night and said that we will be done by midday the next day. It was our hottest night ever with 36C all night and no breeze. But the next morning they fixed everything, even a small extra job was done too and we were on our way again.


It was great that Burt was fixed and healthy again and we found a very cool place for the night just outside of town by an impressive looking viaduct. John loved it. And surely we had to climb on top of it.


After Tucuman, knowing that everything is good we headed to Mendoza on the “backroads”. Hundreds of kilometres through dense cloud forest, dry hot desert, by lakes and rivers, hot springs, and coloured mountains, by the 22nd of December we arrived in Mendoza where we meet the family who we last saw in Colombia 9 months ago.


We stayed a couple of days in Mendoza to sort out shopping, washing and insurance. The plan for Christmas was to go somewhere nice, not that campground in town. We headed out from the city to a lake where we also met the paws-on-tours guys and we prepared for Christmas. The boys collected the wood supply we will need for the BBQ for the next 2-3 days, we made a Christmas tree and prepared some treats -like apple pie.


The two girls were so excited on Christmas Day. They were up at 7AM and singing, shouting, banging on Burt till we finally got up and got out to have tea and coffee together around the Tree while the girls are handing out presents but most importantly opening them. The weather was wonderful and balmy warm and we were chilling while Steven was taking care of the 6 kilos of meat on the BBQ and opened a few bottles of wine.


On Boxing day Michel and Ursi (and the Paws) headed off early morning, then shortly after we all packed up and moved on together as well. We were heading to San Marcos de los Andes for New Years Eve. As Steve and Gilly said it was a real “chichi” town with cute cafes, bars and restaurants which is a promising place to spend NYE so we had a plan.

On our way we stopped at a couple of national parks, volcanoes and lakes. Once we got the San Marcos we found a very convenient spot for the night and headed out for look-around in town. We (the girls) all dressed up, I even put make up on! And went to book a night somewhere swanky. It started raining, then pouring and we all got soaking wet and cold. We found that all restaurants were closing for the night! The couple of places that didn’t had only a set-menu for ridiculous price and they were all booked up. At the end we found one small delicatessen shop (minutes before closing) we bought the best locally brewed beer, pate, cheese and stuff, we had lomo and veg and decided to have a New Year’s Eve Party at home. Gilly and I threw everything together, while sipping on Argentina’s finest Malbec, while the boys were sipping on the artesian honey beer and while the girls were watching the 3rd movie that evening and we actually had a fantastic time.

From San Marcos, there’s a famous road through lush green hills and mountains, by lakes and rivers. It’s called the 7 Lakes Route and it leads to Bariloche. We took this together stopping at a couple of lakes and rivers just to continue the fun and lomo BBQ’s.


Bariloche is Argentina’s Lake District’s principal city on the shore of Lago Nahuel Huapi and surrounded by snow peaked mountains. It’s a very handsome looking town with Alpine-style wooden houses, famous for summer, winter, water and outdoor activities, for its chocolate and its home brewed beer.


We stayed two nights here camped by a fast flowing ice cold river just a few km’s out of town. And spent a day walking around in the centre, change money, had a couple of overpriced coffee and tried the highly-priced average chocolate. Though I loved the look of the town especially on the lakefront but the atmosphere wasn’t too special and everything seemed to be set up for visitors with sky high prices and the locals seemed slightly fed up with the tourist flow that only just started in the season.

From here we continued south towards El Bolson, a small hippy town with handcraft/artesian/ organic food market selling homemade cheese and honey, smoked trout, locally brewed beer and delicious things like these.

We stayed in a campground/brewery with the family for the last time -they were heading off the following day while we were planning to stay.

Next, El Bolson…

100. Bolivia

It’s been AaaaaaRges since my last post so I’m just going to jump right into it.


So, Bolivia…. For Johnny’s regret we had to compromise to only visit the south-west part of Bolivia and for only 2-3 weeks as time was rushing us to catch the Brit family for Christmas in Argentina. Which was absolutely fine by me as it involved the Uyuni Salt Flat, the place and a picture of it that instigated this whole Americas travel back in England 3-4 years ago. The Salar was a MUST visit place for me.

Our 3 weeks visit included lots and lots of salt, wind, desert, llamas, vicuñas and alpacas and it lacked in seeing people.

Once we crossed the border at Pisiga Bolivar we headed to the Coipasa saltflat with a little help from the local military laughing boys. One of them jumped in to a jeep and lead us through the first part of the desert, for about an hour to the edge of the Coipasa salt flat where he set our biological compass (i.e. our eyesight) towards a pointy peaked mountain in the distance to follow that for a day or two then once we reached it find and ask someone for further direction.

So we were set free on the salt flat and headed where we were told to. The salt felt wet and mushy and were lots of dugouts, and it was a little scary as all horror stories we heard about being stuck on the salt were flooding back in our minds. Though it was really nice and felt quite spooky with the whiteness and setting sun.

We travelled a couple of days through the arid, epic desert with howling wind and burning sun at around 3000m above sea level. No wonder we didn’t see anyone except alpacas and llamas.


The tire tracks we were following kept disappearing so we were pushing through the sand blindly guessing our direction. We kept it cool as we knew we have enough water and food for a few days, in case we would get lost.

At the end of the second day we found ourselves at the edge of the famous Salar de Uyuni. Where we were welcomed by an impressive looking volcano, Vulcan Tunupa. We spent a couple of nights here and climbed on the top of it where we had the first class view of the Salar.


Salar De Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat with over 12.000 sq km flat, blinding-white surface, sitting at almost 3700m. The mightiest nothingness imaginable. If you stand in the middle, all you can see is the blue sky and white ground with blurred horizon. If the wind wasn’t blowing you could spook-out of the lifelessness of it all. Quite and extraordinary place.

And finally it was the day of the driving through the saltflat. We investigated the conditions of the salt and after asking a few locals in the small village of Coqueza and a couple of guides who were just arrived from the saltflat we decided it’s good to go for us.


We pushed through the entrance -it was covered with water which didn’t look very promising at first but then we were on the track that was leading to Isla Inchuasi which is the more touristy island on the flat. For 15 minutes we stopped and walked around. To me it was somewhat comforting to see other people. I don’t know, maybe the over 10 days drive in remote, otherworldy places, practically without seeing another human being, then driving in the endless whiteness spooked me out a little. So it was nice to see goofy youngsters wearing signature Bolivian colourful woolly hats taking fun photos on the salt.

Then we peeled off and headed into the nowhere on the salt. Boy, sometimes when you have the infinity of parking place, you just don’t know where to park and which angle and direction…. so weird. At the end we managed to just stop the engine and wait where the vehicle ends up stopping and that was our spot for the night.

I imagined this moment before… camping on the saltflat, drinking a cocktail, enjoying the sunset and the stars… So much that I even dug out the horrible cheap rum we bought in Venezuela and fixed an un-drinkable bad BAD rum-hibiscus “cocktail” and took out the camping chairs and forced myself to sit outside to enjoy my awful mix. It was so windy that my chair was moving, me sitting on it! then the glass and bottles were flying all over the place and were freezing our arses off. SO sat inside and watched the stars through the salt-covered windows.


It was still an experience. It was MY saltflat experience and I loved it, even that I didn’t, and it was uncomfortable and cold, and sitting on the salt made our pants wet and stinging the skin. But it was all good. And we took the MUST HAVE “John small BURT BIG” or “me leaning on small Burt” photos. Because this is one of the few places where you can do that and I wasn’t going anywhere till we had some of those!


So after the salt, i think we had enough in the past 10 days-2 weeks of it. So needed a good wash. I don’t know how, but every traveller (been to Uyuni) told us that the town is full of car/truck wash places. We hardly found the one who scheduled us for the next morning coz he was super busy washing real working trucks and cars, so the playful tourists will come last.

We spent the night in the even spookier (John loved it) train cemetery just outside of town.


Burt got a good scrub the next day then we scooted off south towards the national park of the coloured lakes.


Absolutely stunning drive! Reserva Eduardo Avora is a real overlanders playground of ever-changing scenery, colourful hills, rocks, lakes, flamingos, vicuñas, foxes and other high-desert animals. We took it slow, took the desert tracks and took our time to get through it trying to enjoy this tremendous place that certainly did not look or feel like any place on Earth.


In a few days we arrived to our exit of Bolivia. We were ready to warm up in lower elevations and actually, well…. breath properly for the first time in 2 weeks so was looking forward to get to Argentina.

Next, Argentina…


We are still due and want to see the Brit Overlanding family for Christmas but have a little time and we want to visit the Northern Chilean and Bolivian highlands.

So as we got our new tire we shot off from Iquique and with a little backtrack we headed back up north on the PanAm. From there we are tending to head East through the desert visiting a few places we heard of from other travellers, our books don’t really cover these places nor our maps so we were taking a bit of a risk to find them but the places sounded fascinating and were so happy to be back on the road again.

Our first night was in the desert where we found a weird open-air, desert church thing next to a canyon. We parked up between this church and the canyon and had a wonderful peaceful, dark, starry night. The next morning, surprisingly the police found us. They were actually very friendly and turned out they were just curious. They pointed us the right direction towards the place we wanted to go and after we asked if this was a church they told us that it was more like a sacrifice place. But they were very easy and open about it!


After a few miles down the paved road we turned off to a dirt road and drove all day through ever-changing scenery from dry desert to highland pasture with llamas and alpacas grazing. At the end of the day we found ourselves a spot next to a small brook. We suddenly found ourselves at nearly 4000m so got some high altitude issues.


The next morning we both were so tired due to the lack of sleep. As we were backing out we got stuck and spent the next couple of hours digging and jacking up Burt.


We finally got ourselves out and faced a 4-5 hours journey through beautiful highland dirt roads to the National Reserve we were aiming to get to at the end of the day.

Amazingly we found the hot mud place we heard about. (from another traveller who has been but had no idea to show us on the map) This absurd place was an ancient seabed with salt deposit left behind, surrounded by high mountains and at the far end a large pool of rich with minerals hot water. This place also is home of the wonderful James Flamingos and the highland mammals the vicuñas.


This area was also reserve of the vicuñas and had an entrance. Though it was free we had to register at the rangers’ office. They told us where we find the hot mud and gave us permission to camp there.

The area of the hot pool was breathtaking. A large pool of bubbling hot (60C), turquoise water, from where the water created a meandering way through the salty flatland. We parked up and stayed for 2 full days.


Although the recommended time to stay in the water was 15 minutes we just couldn’t come out for 2 hours. We packed our faces and bodies with rich healing mud, sat and enjoyed the water watching the sun setting behind the hills. And did this the next morning then the evening again, then the following morning. It was just wonderful. All our stuff stank of sulphur for days!
We saw 4 tourists coming down to visit this place but only stopping for 15 minutes for a few snaps they the place was our again.


On our second day when we were quiet and still a vicuña family came over to the pool and bathe in the hot water. It was very special to see them so close chilling out. It was so special that we didn’t even bother take the cameras out, we just sat and watched them for hours.

The nights were almost frighteningly quiet, dark and lonely. The wind picked up at the early hours of the evening and howling till very late which added to the spookiness. Though I have never seen a clearer night sky before with zillions of stars that sparkled so bright. It was magical.

On our third day it felt right to leave and after a quick dip we packed up and headed South over the hills and through the desert towards Bolivia.

We didn’t expect to cross the border the same day but it just happened.

Next, Bolivia…..

98. Chile

I know I said at the end of the last post that “Next, Bolivia…”but that is not how it happened. This kind of shows how we don’t plan.

After we said goodbyes to our travelling friends of few weeks, we hit the Panamericana and headed south.


A few days later driving through desert we were at the southern part of Peru, and against our “plan” -which was to enter Bolivia the following day, visit La Paz and, the Highlands and the Salt Flat, we actually decided in 10 seconds to cross to Chile instead.

We were so not prepared for the sudden border crossing that we had to ether cook up a lot of food and stuff ourselves or throw good food away as Chile doesn’t tolerate any fresh veg, fruit, meat, cheese, honey etc to bring across the border. It was a shame as turned out the border officers were in a laidback mood and had a very brief look at our truck and let us through. They couldn’t be friendlier and more helpful.

I loved Chile already. It was sort of refreshing to be in a more organised country. Which came handy when we left our credit card in a cash machine in Arica and the next day at the bank had proper costumer service for these kind of accidents and we got it back. Wifi everywhere, great wine for peanuts (otherwise everything is quite pricey here) we even found Waitrose Finest in the supermarket! English Breakfast tea, English mustard, shortbread biscuits and a few more stuff. What a treat!

We stuck with the PanaAm and headed to Iquique to the tax-free zone to get a new Michelin tire that we lost in Venezuela back in May. In Peru we found the right one for us but was insanely expensive so this was our main motivation to get to Chile instead to Bolivia -at least for now.

Iquique is a coast town with a character. It has a tax-free zone where apparently one can buy everything from used cars through sunglasses, camera and computer stuff to designer socks. It also has lovely purpose-built town beaches, wooden buildings and wooden footpath, cafes, bars. Iquique is also a favoured surf spot and one of the best paragliding places in the world. It wedged in-between the desert and the Pacific Ocean with the biggest sand dune that is famous of its Dragon-like look and for not moving for hundreds of years. (which is good news for the residents)


As far as our non-planning goes we, of course arrived on Saturday when everything was closing (nothing’s open on Sunday) so we had to wait till Monday for sorting the tires. We found a spot on a public beach just north of town (not too bad but lots of rubbish sadly) and spent Sunday in town.


On Monday we visited all truck tire places and got quote (all Chinese or Korean tires) but at the end we ended up at Michelin where we met one of the most sweeties, Roberto who helped us enormously.

At Michelin was where John discovered another(!) crack on the chassis. Not even my eyelids moved (though I was crushed inside) Roberto pointed us to the right direction to get help. Which was the Mercedes service who sent us to this company in town who deals with chassis welding, repair etc. We booked-in for the next morning.

For that night we decided to stay at the Paragliding Club and where we met 4 Brit paraglide pilots who just arrived from England to warm up in the next few days before their students arrive. They were so friendly and happy to meet us. They provided dinner and wine for us and we ended up chatting till 1AM. Shame we had to leave early the next day due to the bloody cracked chassis but it was something we had to sort it out ASAP.


The 4th guy is so hungover the next morning, he fails to attend for the group photo

So, another workshop… In the place they directed us to our spot. They begin the work and with John’s supervision disconnected the box from the chassis then removed the whole living-box and placed it on work stands.


It was a busy shop with lots of welding and metalwork, and despite we thought we will have to stay in a hotel in the next few days they let us stay. Which was very helpful but it was a nightmare. What we didn’t realise was that they have night-shifts that love to put the bloody radio on all night full blast. I could’ve cried! But was still appreciating the cost-saving side of it and just had to use earplugs. (when I politely asked to turn the music down a bit, they refused)
And of course we hit a weekend (again!) when, on Sunday they don’t work (except the nightshift with their beloved midnight-hour Top 100 of Chile) so we were there for a whole extra day doing nothing. Well, actually on Friday I managed to get their wifi code and we were shamelessly downloading stuff all Sunday, plus I made good friends with the three -otherwise vicious guard dogs (enormous German sheps) -after a few well directed beef chunks they became sweet little lambs and they provided entertainment for Sunday afternoon.

Finally, on Monday they finished the job and by the end of the day they replaced the box onto the chassis. It was stressful and frustrating though. They had good equipments but loved hammering the bolts when using the air-driver would’ve done the job in minutes without damaging the bolts themselves. John asked them to use the driver but they refused and kept lump-hammering. It took hours when they finished (forgetting placing a few bolts back that we will have sort out in time)

Having said all that they did fix the crack very well. They fixed and reinforced this part of the chassis but they did a sloppy job with the other stuff involved that we will have spend some time and money to fix. Plus, including the Sunday it took 2 more days that predicted and caused a fair amount of stress. So after we paid we were happy to leave, even it was already 8PM. We found a snug place in the desert and took an early QUIET night.

The following day we headed to Michelin to pick up the new tire we ordered. It was so nice to see Roberto and his smiley face again.


It turned out he looked at our blog and recognised the Moroccan family (who we made such good friends with in Cusco) He said they were here a few months back and how nice people they were. Which is absolutely true and I was wondering; isn’t it funny how the wonderful cosmic misfits gather in the same place…?

Thank you Roberto for your help and kindness.


Next, Northern Chile….