Published: June 4th 2010June 4th 2010
After a 24 hour bus ride we ended up in San Pedro a dusty oasis town in northern Chile. San Pedro is famous for the nearby Atacama desert the highest and driest on earth.
The town itself has a laid back feel and is tiny just one square and one major street, made up of whitewhashed buildings and a plaza with a beautiful church as the centre piece. It is a very dusty place with dirt streets, you expect to see Butch Cassidy riding through the main square, it has a real frontier feel about it. Travelling in this vast and empty northern desert of Chile, where a brutal sun gives way to a freezing night, has an eary feeling without any vegetation around, it is likened to the surface of the moon.
San Pedro is located at the foothills of the Andean cordillera, which reaches an altitude of 6,100 meters in this area. It is surrounded by volcanoes with the majestic Volcano Licancabur (5,916 meters above sea level) situated in front of the village.
The main reason you visit San Pedro is to see the amazing local attractions so we booked ourselves onto a trip to the
Geysers of El Tatio, where more than 40 geysers, thermal wells and fumaroles blast up into the chilly early morning air. We had to leave the hotel at the ungodly hour of four am, and endure a drive over the worst washboard rutted, curvy, hilly painful road you've ever seen (it rivalled the roads of Africa), but to see these natural wonders going off as the sun comes up was worth it all. Although because they are located at 4300m and we were in the winter time the outside temperature was a ball numbing -17 oC and the wind chilled you to the bone. Later we watched people swimming in the very hot pools heated by this steaming water coming from deep below the desert although it didn’t look very inviting so we chose to decline that adventure.
The nearby valleys all have an out of space inspired name continuing the analogy. We took a tour to the valley of the moon, death valley, and Mars canyon which were some of the most desolate place on earth. We ended the tour by watching the sun set over the valley of the moon which was beautiful if a little bit
Our final trip was a full day trip to the nearby Salar de Atacama and Atacama desert as well as the Laguna Cejar which is a beautiful lake on the high plane. The trip was fabulous we travelled through the desert stopping at remarkable rock formations as well as dried up salt lakes and empty dessert, the scenery was stunning and really got us hungry for our next trip to the Salar de Uyuni, which was probably the most amazing place we have every visited!!
There are more photos below