We arrived in Santiago de Chile after spending a length of time on a bus that I had never before imagined was possible and be honest – it was fine. I spent probably half the time staring out of the window at the bleak desert half asleep and the other half watching the dozen onboard movies.
Caracol turned out to be more of an agency than a bus service and we ended up travelling with the excellent Chilean company Tas-Choapa – it seems all the buses in Chile are excellent.
We arrived at the border of Chile in the late morning of the second day. The Peruvian side of the border outside Tacna was pretty run down. We had to get off the bus to be searched for drugs in one building, register ourselves at another and get our passports stamped in another across from that. On arriving in the larger, more modern and cleaner Chilean side of the border outside Arica, sniffer dogs checked our bags we got our passports stamped, passed our bags through an x-ray machine and we were on our way.
Six of the Peruvians on the bus were denied entry to Chile and turned away back to Tacna – which meant the bus was emptier.
The final comment I have to make on the journey was the gradual greening of the country we saw as we moved south. We started with the barren Atacama desert in the north. Then after several hours shrubs began to appear, then valleys of grassland, then finally a fully temperate climate.