Chile Travels

By Alex Timofeev

Alex Timofeev

Alex Timofeev

One of the most exciting parts of my first year as a McGill undergraduate was a unique trip held every year by the Earth & Planetary Sciences department at McGill, the Willy Trip. We choose a country each year to visit in order to appreciate its geology, along with its culture and natural beauty. This year the country chosen was Chile, and what a trip it proved to be!

Getting to Chile itself proved a challenge as a snowstorm in Atlanta caused our flight to be cancelled and started a five day travelling trip that had us spend two days in Miami. Even though it was not where we wanted to be, there are worse places to be stuck than right near Miami Beach.

As we landed in Chile, I got to see a completely different landscape than the one I am used to. Large mountains in all directions with sparse vegetation make a spectacular impression.

The first half of the trip was devoted to exploring the northern part of Chile including the Atacama Desert. This is the driest desert in the world and yet there are still sparsely located cities in its midst. The desert is so dry that in many regions no life exists at all!

We visited a geyser field at 4200 meters with a pool of water, fed by a small geyser that was warm enough to have a comfortable swim in. Another visit was to a salt flat with flamingos living on the only water in what otherwise seemed to be an alien landscape. And great geological outcrops were present anywhere we drove.

The second half of the trip was spent south of Santiago, where vegetation quickly got thicker as we proceeded south. We visited a winery on the way down and eventually went as far south as Puerto Montt. Right as we reached this region the huge earthquake that dominated the news hit, and we had to leave through Argentina in order to return back home.

The experiences that I had on this trip were unique in many ways and reinforce my belief that travelling is worth the effort of making a trip happen. I look forward to travelling more, and hopefully attending another Willy Trip!

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