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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Closing the Circles

The Chile-Argentine Circuit

The last ten days have been spent closing the circles by making internet bookings for transport and accommodation favouring chic budget backpackers who have good internet access. In the first loop around the lakes district of Chile and Argentina, we fly Sky Airlines from Santiago and plan staying at Casa Margouya in Puerto Varas, advanced booking on Andesmar to Villa la Angostura where we have beds at Hostel la Angostura, and Puma Youth Hostal in San Martin de los Andes, where we hope to take either the Tromen or the Hua Hum Pass back to Chile, hopefully reaching the Tree House in Pucon before returning north via a flight back from Temuco. San Martin has a very complete multi-lingual site with all these passes.

Green Accommodation

We have also booked for accommodation in the cities we fly into at night, Hostal Forestal in Santiago, the chic artistic Hostal Casa Verde Limon in Valparaiso, l’Auberge-Inn in Quito and the quaintly traditional Hospedaje Casco Viejo in Panama City.

The Ecuador-Colombia Circuit

After this we decided to explore bookings in the Ecuador-Colombia circuit because we have it to make through to Cali to catch the COPA linking flight to Panama and found some racy backpackers with internet or e-mail reservation and booked Hostal Transilvania in Banos, Hostal Rincon del Viajero in Otavalo, HostelTrail in Popayan and are waiting for e-mail replies from A Welcome Break in Tena and Hotel San Sebastian in Pasto.

Please also note that the old main bus terminal in central Quito has been replaced by two new ones on the outskirts, one serving north to the border with Colombia and the other south and most other areas, including Amazonas. We found it very difficult to find bus schedules and companies going the north route to Tena until we found this site, listing the bus company contacts and departure times for Quito-Tena via Baeza. Note that by October 2010 the old Mariscal Sucre airport will be replaced by a new one ten times the size 18 kms out.

The new Quito terminals (blue and red) and the abandoned central terminal (gray)
with local bus/trole links, showing Mariscal Sucre airport mid right.

We also clinched a few key bookings for a Budget rental car at midnight in SF airport, to add to those we have on arrival in Dublin, Rome and Avis Amman because they have an office at the Allenby Bridge. We also booked some further afield accommodation close to times we have to make a plane or ferry connection - Chicago Getaway Hostel, Camping Tiber in Rome, Solfataria in a geothermal field near Naples and several gypsy stops en route to a night at Carpe Diem in Brindisi before we catch the ferry to Corfu. There we have a choice of Dionysus Camping on Corfu and Elena and Kalami Beach at Igoumenitsa, depending on where the ferry stops first in the evening, and on via Delphi (Apollon) and Athens (Camping Athens or Hostel Aphrodite) to Crete.

We also did a rather ingenious thing using Google Earth, prompted by a neat camper van free camping web site called Green Archipelago - Arcipelago Verde - which had a Google Earth file showing the locations of free parks across Italy and neighbouring countries. This led to our own aerial search using street view for discrete free camping hideaways where we could park the car and put up a small tent on small side roads adjacent to wilderness areas while driving across Italy.

Now all we have to do is gather our medicines, international drivers licences, and some foreign currencies and pack! No just kidding there is heaps to do!

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