Four days' sail from Valparaiso is Antofagasta, Chili, from which port there is the narrowest of narrow-gauge railroads, crossing the Occidental Cordilleras to Ororo, Bolivia, 575 miles. This will soon be extended to Lake Titicaca, and will command magnificent views of Mount Sorata (21,490 feet) and the Illimani (21,190 feet). Lake Titicaca is about a hundred miles long, 12,540 feet above the sea-level. From Lake Titicaca the railroad runs to the prehistoric city of Tiahuanaco and to Alta la Paz, where an electric railway descends to the city of La Paz, the highest capital city in the world. Eventually the railroad will be extended south across Bolivia, to connect with the Central Northern of Argentine at Tupiza. From the lake the rail again crosses the Cordilleras at an altitude of 14,800 feet to the Desert of Islay (famous for its moving sand crescents, one of the most remarkable natural phenomena of the world), and on to Mollendo, a small seaport of Peru. From this port steamers leave for Callao, Peru, three days' sail.
Callao, the port of Lima, the capital of Peru, presents a pleasing picture, backed by the ancient city of Lima with the Andes in the distance. The present town is comparatively modern, as the old city formerly stood on a tongue of land opposite, but was submerged by the earthquake of 1746, when nearly four thousand of the inhabitants perished. In calm weather one can row a boat over the site of the old city, and see the ruins in the water below.
The chief export of Peru is of course cinchona bark, better known as Peruvian bark, from which is obtained the alkaloid, quinine. Here one can see that curious animal, the llama, used as a beast of burden. The city of Lima, the capital of Peru, is six miles from Callao, with which it is connected by railroad. Lima has much to remind one of a Moorish city. It was founded by Pizarro in 1535, and here he was assassinated in 1541. Lima suffered pretty roughly at the hands of the Chilians in the late war. The population in 1903 was 30,000. The history of the city reads like a terrible nightmare. The cathedral, built about 1540 by Pizarro from spoils of the Incas' temples, cost a fabulous amount, and contains the remains of its founder. The city is laid out in rectangular form, the central point being the Plaza Mayor. Here are the palace and government offices, the bishop's palace and the cathedral, the town hall and senate- house. In the Plazuela de la Independence still stands the old Palace of the Inquisition. The University of Lima was the first seat of the higher education established in the New World. About twenty miles south of Lima are ruins of the prehistoric Temple of Pacha- camac, which is supposed to have been destroyed by the Incas, and from which treasure was taken by Pizarro.
The railroad from Lima to Oroya, built across the Andes by Henry Meiggs and his Lieutenant Malinowski, is still considered one of the engineering wonders of the age, and culminates in the Galera Tunnel, 15,565 feet above sea-level. Sometime the line will be extended so as to follow the ancient Incas' highway over the summit of the Cordilleras to Quito, Ecuador, in the north, and to Lake Titicaca in the south ; but at present it is only a dream of the Pan-American Railway enthusiasts.
Guayaquil (the chief port of the republic) is five days' sail northerly from Callao. The railroad to Quito, the capital, is another wonder of engineering skill. The scenery is perhaps the finest in South America, and includes Mount Chimborazo (20,498 feet) and Mount Cotopaxi (19,613 feet), the rail actually climbing Mount Pistichi at an elevation of 10,648 feet.
From Guayaquil, Panama is reached by steamer in five days. The rail across the isthmus to Colon is about forty-four miles. From Colon to New York by steamer is about ten days, and Southampton, England, is reached in nineteen days by the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company.
Travelers desiring to proceed to Europe from Valparaiso will find fine steamers to England and to the Continent, via the Straits of Magellan, the voyage occupying about thirty -two days. Talcahuano, Chili, is the first port of call, being a great coaling station. It is about seven miles from ConCEpcion, the one-time capital of the country. Should the traveler prefer, he can go from Valparaiso to Concepcion via Santiago, by railway through the Central Valley of Chili, and connect with the steamer at Talcahuano. Fire, flood, earthquake and the ravages of war have made Concepcion an interesting city. The Arancanian Indians wiped out the early city again and again, and are still an unconquered people. In 1835 the city was laid in ruins by an earthquake, followed by an overwhelming tidal wave. In fact, earthquakes are of such frequent occurrence that little notice is taken of them here, and in spite of them Concepcion is a growing city.
The voyage through the Straits of Magellan, named after the intrepid Portuguese navigator who forced the passage in 1520, is a unique experience to the world traveler. The entrance at the Pacific end is marked by Cape Pillar, and is only about a mile in width. On the starboard is Terra del Fuego (Land of Fire), and, on the port side, Patagonia — both dreary, uninviting countries inhabited by uncivilized and fierce aborigines who are apparently oblivious to the cold and sleet. The passage is an intricate waterway less than four hundred miles in length, and of varying widths. Steamers generally take about thirty-six hours in making the passage.
At the Pacific end Mount Sarmiento is conspicuous ( about 7,000 feet in height, and covered with snow), from which descend a score or so of miniature glaciers, making it an impressive sight. About half-way through the strait is Punta Arenas (Sandy Point) , the most southerly town in the world, which has some 1,500 inhabitants of mixed races and nationalities. The Atlantic end of the straits is about twenty miles across, having Cape Espiritu Santo on the starboard side and Cape Vergins on the port. From the Straits of Magellan the voyage is continued to Rio de Janeiro, and thence back to Europe or America, taking about thirty-two days from Valparaiso to Liverpool by direct steamer.