Published: March 26th 2012March 22nd 2012
The overnight bus was basically awful. The first driver would floor it and slam on the breaks and threw us around turns constantly. We did not sleep much. Upon arriving in Antofagasta, and after much discussion of pros/cons/budget, we decided San Pedro de Atacama would be our next destination. We had heard so many good things about the place from other travelers and seeing as it is Chiles number 1 tourist attraction, we could not just pass it up. So, a few hour break at the Antofagasta bus station and we were off to San Pedro.
About 4 hours from Antofagasta we went through the town of Calama. It is a big mining town. They have tons of quartz and copper. And my guess is, with copper being as expensive as it is, there is a lot of money flowing through the town. They have statues made out of copper.
We stopped at the main bus terminal in Calama. The bus was broken, so we used that time to try and figure out a bus to Arica. The bus was fixed pretty quickly and so we did not get a chance to book anything, but we had a general
sense of how to get to Arica, our destination after San Pedro.
The landscape in this area is unbelieveable. Literally no life anywhere. Except when you would get close to a town, or sometimes on the sides of the roads. Even after living in the desert of Palm Springs and spending a lot of time in Mojave, they had nothing on this place in terms of a barren landscape.
So, hours after hours of nothing, and then in the distance we started to see some white. And as we got closer to San Pedro, the magnificant volcanos in the Andes on the east side of San Pedro started to come in to view. Could that really be snow? No way, it was like 100 degrees and it was the desert. Sure enough, it really was snow. The tallest volcano outside of town towers to about 6,800 meters (20,000 feet+). So, despite the nothingness that surrounded us, the mountains climbed high enough to be snow capped. Truely a bizzare view.
There are more photos below