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Published: April 18th 2013
14/3/13 Purmamaca to San Pedro de Aticama, Chile
Ate breakfast off the table, said our goodbyes and walked up the road to the bus stop point (it was just a bit of gravel in front of a hotel sign), soon we were joined by a young French girl and an older lady originally from Canada who literally never stopped talking!, it was quite a relief as we reckoned we couldn’t all be wrong about where the bus would stop.
10 minutes after the time the bus should have arrived another young couple ran up the road to join us, guess they overslept! And 45 minutes late the bus turned up.
So we settled in for the long haul – about 10 hours, with a border crossing. The road wound its way backwards and forwards, higher and higher up into the mountains and the scenery was stunning. The mountains were all different colours, reds, greens, oranges, blacks – just incredible and the rock formations were equally fantastic.
We came over the pass and could see what looked like a lake in the distance, but it was the salt flats stretching on for miles, all brilliant white. Then up
over more mountains and on a high pass (about 14,000 feet) the bus stopped and we all got out to get stamped out of Argentina, at what must be one of the world’s highest border posts and with a gigantic volcano virtually next door!
Then it was down into the desert and we eventually pulled into the immigration post at San Pedro de Atacama, we all had to line up to get our passports stamped and then line up again to get our bags scanned – which seemed a real half- hearted operation but that was good as once they got started it was quick.
By now my head was pounding, I was really tired (hadn’t dared let myself go to sleep on the bus in case that awful not breathing started again) and felt really rough. Unfortunately the directions to the hostel were from the bus station which wasn’t where we were and said head towards the mountains…..there are mountains everywhere! Howard hadn’t been able to find the road on any map, so we walked into what we thought was the right area, asked a few people and no one had heard of it. All the while
we were thinking that the town looked like a right dump. Eventually we found the main road in the town and just as I way saying ‘this is bloody crazy’ a young lass came up and asked if she could help. She took us to one of the many travel agents and finally someone had heard of the hostel.
So armed with a map with directions we walked all the way back we had just come and found the hostel not far from where we started!!
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