I got back from Chile three days ago, and now I'm sufficiently caught-up with the goings-on of the past four weeks, it's time to summarise what I did on this World Challenge expedition.
The expedition was split into four different phases: acclimatisation, project, main trek, and rest and relaxation. After flying into Santiago (via Paris), we did our acclimatisation in La Campana National Park, climbing the eponymous mountain and camping for three nights. Climbing La Campana was tough, and in hindsight, probably tougher than the main trek up Guane Guane.
Our project phase was in Iquique, where we re-painted an old people's home, then part of the school in which we stayed. It was quite fulfilling, but somewhat longer than it could've been; we spent several days wandering around Iquique relaxing, when we could've instead had a longer main trek.
The main trek was in Lauca National Park at high altitude; we had to spend several days acclimatising to 3500masl in Putre before we could ascend to our base camp at Parinacota (4500masl). At Parinacota we had to spend more time acclimatising, before we attempted (and succeeded) a climb up Guane Guane. The views up on the altiplano were fantastic, and I've got (perhaps too?) many photos of llamas, alpacas and vicuñas.
Our rest and relaxation phase was a little short, but we managed to pack in most of the things San Pedro de Atacama offers, including sandboarding, a trip round the Valley of the Moon and a trip to see the El Tatio geysers.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone who has the time, money and driving force. Some of us are already thinking of going back to have an attempt on Mount Parinacota!
I'm slowly putting photos up on Picasa before I go off on holiday again for a week on Monday.