San Pedro de Atacama - Quebradas & Pilcara de Quitor

Published: February 5th 2014
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Provincial Government Office for the Conservation of Nacional MonumentsProvincial Government Office for the Conservation of Nacional MonumentsProvincial Government Office for the Conservation of Nacional Monuments

On the outskirts of town. Done in the traditional local Atacaman adobe style.
After several fun-filled days, it was time to say goodbye to Sergio, Miri and Elodie as they left to cross the pass to Salta in the Quebrada Country of North-Western Argentina.

Left to my own devices, I decided to head north-west out of town to visit the Pukara de Quitor (archaeological site)and explore the quebrada country beyond towards El Tunel, as recommended by Elodie. It's also possible to hire a mountain bike and venture further afield and continue through Valle del Muerte and link with the main road to Calama back into town or vice versa. You can also do horse-trekking in the area. However, after "car-touring" for the past three or so days, I felt like stretching my legs and going on foot.

Pukara de Quitor is only 3km out of town, so very accessible. To be honest, it wasn't very impressive to me, as it appeared to consist of a series of newly built stone walls supposedly representing the footprint of various community buildings. In hindsight, I probably should have visited the Archaelogical Museum in town prior to my visit to better appreciate it. However, I'd heard mixed reviews about the displays there. What was impressive, though,
Local Camp GroundLocal Camp GroundLocal Camp Ground

Also on the outskirts of town. FFence and woven gate, also in the traditional style.
were the spectacular views from a variety of viewpoints in the complex, as you can see in the photos. In particular the views across to the Valle de la Luna ( visited in previous days) and Valle de Muerte (didn't get a chance to visit, unfortunately).

After an hour or so, I ate a quick lunch in the shade and headed further down the road to explore the Valle de Catarpe with it's spectacular rock formations, fabulous views from El Tunel and a little play in the Gargantua del Diablo. I'll let the photos speak for themselves......

Additional photos below
Photos: 47, Displayed: 23


Mud MapMud Map
Mud Map

Plan for the day includes a visit to Quitor Archeological Site and exploring the Quebradas Catarpe & Chulacao and enjoying the viewpoint from El Tunel. Definitely not to scale!
Atacaman CultureAtacaman Culture
Atacaman Culture

As you approach the entrance where you pay, there's a series of information boards to get you "in the mood". This one details aspects of the Atacaman culture and how it changed as different influences were imposed on them. Double click on the photo should you be interested at loking at the details.
Welcome tablet Welcome tablet
Welcome tablet

Including a request not to climb or sit on the walls. Annoyingly ignored by a number of visitors- mainly "domestic" tourists as it turned out.
Stone FortificationsStone Fortifications
Stone Fortifications

Modern "reconstruction" of fortifications and footprint of community buildings. Hmmmm.... a vivid imagination in many cases. No explanation......
and another....and another....
and another....

In another direction
Looking across to Valle de MuerteLooking across to Valle de Muerte
Looking across to Valle de Muerte

Death Valley is the translation. Story goes that the Frenchman who "discovered" it got his words mixed up. He meant "Marte" meaning Mars, for the Mars-like terrain. However "Muerte" stuck, and local tourism operators like it that way, I feel!!
A view through the archwaysA view through the archways
A view through the archways

No idea of the original function of these.
Monument to the Original AtacamansMonument to the Original Atacamans
Monument to the Original Atacamans

Apparently there were four different groups and each is depicted by a sculpture of a chief in this wall.
Face of CharacterFace of Character
Face of Character

My personal favourite

14th February 2014

What can I say! Tready these places are beautiful. I can't believe you're there! Same ol same ol here. XXXXX
20th February 2014

Hi from Rio, Spas!
Wait until you see the Salar trip- coming right up very soon... Last Saturday marked 5mths on the road! Can you believe it? My time in South America is half over!!

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