A picture is worth a thousand words. In our case, some of those words are ‘Over-exposed’, ‘Badly framed’, ‘Not even Photoshop can salvage this one’, ‘Take some photography classes’ and ‘Get a better camera’. Regardless, we’ll plough on with this month’s selection of holiday snaps. For past months, click here.

 


 

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The Chilean city of Antofagasta enjoys a dramatic setting on the Pacific coast, hemmed in by looming hills that dictate its long, skinny shape. High above the port, a giant anchor was long ago embedded into one of the peaks to show approaching ships where to dock; you can get an idea of its size from the figure walking along the hilltop above it. By the time the town’s bigwigs had spotted that the minion charged with the task had put the anchor upside down, it was too late to fix it.
Antofagasta, II, Chile
1 February 2014

 


 

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The next day, we thought we’d go and cheer on the local football team, but were astonished to find home shirts outnumbered at least ten-to-one by supporters wearing the dark blue or hi-vis yellow of the visitors from Santiago, Universidad de Chile. (The balding chap with his arms folded in the middle of the picture is wearing a home shirt. He’s surrounded.) When we asked whether the team from the capital was the country’s Manchester United, with fans everywhere in the country but Manchester, we were greeted with chuckles – but everybody really wanted to talk to us about Manchester City, whose progress under their Chilean manager is being keenly followed.
Antofagasta, II, Chile
2 February 2014

 


 

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Wandering along the beach after the match, Ruth joined an exercise class, dancing along to guidance hollered and then demonstrated by a quintet of identically dressed instructors. Will found the whole thing deeply sinister and went off for an ice cream shortly after taking this picture – missing the moment when Ruth was awarded a pair of Coke-branded flip-flops for being the best dancer.
Antofagasta, II, Chile
2 February 2014

 


 

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If we were going to build a golf course, we might choose to build it somewhere other than the world’s driest desert. Still, the fake plastic trees are a nice touch. Philosophical question: can you call them greens if they’re brown?
Tocopilla Golf Club, 22km north of Tocopilla, II, Chile
6 February 2014

 


 

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We find it difficult to walk by a heladería without stopping for an ice cream, so we surprised ourselves by twice strolling past Iquique’s Heladería Campanario before succumbing. Talking with Ricardo, the softly spoken but plainly proud owner, we asked him about the four handsome photographs of traditional British ice cream vans that decorate one wall of his shop. ‘It is my dream,’ he said, slipping briefly into English as his eyes lit up. As far as he can tell, he explained, there are no ice cream vans in Chile, and certainly none as beautiful as the vintage model he clearly has in mind. We hope his dream comes true; but until it does, you can find Ricardo and his quite excellent ice cream at Avenida Playa Brava 2118 in Iquique.
Iquique, I, Chile
9 February 2014

 


 

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Much of the traffic in north-west Chile consists of middle-management mining professionals driving between towns and mines in identical red pick-up trucks. Mining drives the economy here; but for visitors, the area’s most interesting mines are a pair of isolated saltpeter plants that shut more than half a century ago. A couple of kilometres apart, Humberstone and Santa Laura opened in 1872, closed in 1960, were left abandoned as ghost towns and are now preserved as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Neither held solely industrial buildings: both provided homes for substantial communities of workers and their families, with up to 1,200 residents and a full urban infrastructure (hospitals, schools, churches, shops, even a theatre) that remains just about intact. On the left is the main works building at Santa Laura; on the right, some of the decrepit residents’ housing at Humberstone.
Santa Laura & Humberstone, I, Chile
10 February 2014

 


 

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At the top of a 1,250m climb out of the small Chilean town of Cuya, an enjoyable morning’s work that ended with chorizo and avocado sandwiches at the roadside, Ruth chalked some encouragement for any cyclists who might be following us up the slope.
Ruta 5 (Panamericana), XV, Chile
12 February 2014

 


 

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Our arrival in the northern Chilean town of Arica coincided with the city’s carnival, three days and nights of dancers and musicians from Chile, Peru, Argentina and Bolivia parading their traditions through the city centre. We feared that a little of this might go a long way, but the dazzling costumes, formation dancing and vast brass bands made for such an irresistible spectacle that we went back for seconds the next evening.
Arica, XV, Chile
14 February 2014

 


 

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From Arica, we had two choices: go straight on into Peru; or turn right and climb 4,500m towards Parque Nacional Lauca and Lago Chungará, before carrying on into Bolivia and on to La Paz. The storms forecast for Bolivia made our decision for us; six weeks later, after the rainy season has ended, we’d have headed into the hills without a second thought. However, although we couldn’t ride the route, we wanted to see the landscape, and so signed up for a day-long bus tour from Arica. It reminded us why we don’t take bus tours more often, but the road was spectacular and the landscape breathtaking. We’ll probably think of this ride as the one that got away.
Lago Chungará, XV, Chile
15 February 2014

 


 

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Still, at least Ruth managed to buy something by which to remember it.
Putre, XV, Chile
15 February 2014

 


 

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We’re not certain that our bicycle helmets are designed to withstand this sort of attack.
near La Joya, 04, Peru
21 February 2014

 


 

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Like most Latin American cities, Arequipa is done little credit by its messy outskirts. The centre, though, is a different matter: understandably popular with tourists, it’s a lively, likeable city blessed with many terrific restaurants (more on those anon) and modestly beautiful buildings, some of which have survived for centuries despite the earthquakes that regularly hit the city. Dating to 1579 and still inhabited by nuns, the Monasterio de Santa Catalina is an extraordinary, indoor-outdoor labyrinth, beautiful during the day but still more atmospheric at night.
Arequipa, 04, Peru
25 February 2014

 


 

from Yanque, 04, Peru