Blogs from San Pedro de Atacama, Antofagasta Region, Chile, South America - page 5


Geo: -22.9058, -68.1951That morning as I have left Iquique, I did not know how extreme that leg will turn...A nice early morning ride up onto the Ruta 5,, from Iquique on sea-level up to 2,600 metres within a very short distance...being part of the Pan-American Higway system that comes from Alaska all the way down to the deep south of Chile.First I did make the turn towards Arica, the border town to Peru...My initial plan was to go to Peru and cross over the mountains towards Cusco and into the Amazon region onto Ruta interoceánica Brasil-Perú but for some reason not entirely clear to me, I decided after 50 km driving, to simply turn round and cross into the high altitude border crossing between Chile and Argentina...not sure if I missed anything, I can only say ... read more
Let's get started...Paso Jama...the unexpected...
Up on the plateau in 4000+ meters...Chile
Up on the plateau in 4000+ meters...Chile

We arrived quite early in the morning to Chile and San Pedro de Atacama, a quiet desert town 45 km from the border to Bolivia. Our Salar de Uyuni tour left us at the border where we also got our exit stamps from Bolivia, then we took a bus to San Pedro where we went through Chilean immigration. The border to Chile was probably the most strict we had passed this far in South America, here our luggage was x-rayed while no one seemed to care what we were carrying on the other border crossings we have passed through on this continent. As it had been a quite exhausting stay in Bolivia with lots of activities, we decided to take it easy. During the first three days in San Pedro we mostly sat in the shade ... read more
San Pedro de Atacama - Star gazing
San Pedro de Atacama - the hot spring in Puritama
San Pedro de Atacama - Biking in the desert

Après une après midi d'attente dans la disgracieuse ville d'Uyuni, nous embarquons dans notre dernier bus Bolivien, heureusement. Piste toute la nuit, vibrations et bruit insupportables, nous ne fermons pas l’œil de la nuit, encore une fois. Arrivés à Villazon, dans l'extrême sud Bolivien, nous apprenons sur place qu'il n'y a pas de bus direction San Pedro de Atacama, notre prochaine destination. En revanche, un bus peut nous amener à Salta en Argentine, d'où il est à priori possible de ralier San Pedro. Arrivés au terminal pour prendre notre bus, on nous apprend qu'il faut en fait traverser la frontière car celui-ci part côté Argentin. Grosse course contre la montre, avec en bonus une fouille de nos sacs à la frontière, heureusement peu approfondie. Notre premier trajet Argentin est de bonne augure : c'est le retour ... read more
 ça flotte sec !

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. ... read more
Local Camp Ground
Mud Map
Atacaman Culture

The next day, Sergio offered to take us exploring the Antiplanos Lagunas (high altitude lagoons/lakes) located south of San Pedro. Elodie (my roommate) and I jumped at the chance, but Sergi & Miri decided to give it a miss. So, generous as he is, Sergio offered the spare seats to Ashley and Claudia, two American girls staying at his hostel. So, with a full car, we headed out for another day of adventure. First stop was Toconao, a tiny colonial village 38km south of San Pedro, noted for it's buildings made of volcanic rock (in particular the 1750 built church) and alpaca woolcrafts. Nobody much about at this hour, we spent a pleasant half hour or so wandering the side streets and getting a feel for the local way of life. Stocked up on some homemade ... read more
First stop the village of Toconao
Exploring the side streets
Elodie's new playmates

Valle de la Luna, otherwise known as Moon Valley, is located about 13km west of San Pedro. It is part of the Reserva Nacional los Flamencos which is divided into a number of areas. More about that in the next blog. One of the driest places on earth, it is claimed that some areas of the valley haven't seen a drop of rain in hundreds of years. I was lucky enough to join Miri, Sergi and their new friend Sergio in a private "tour" on two consecutive afternoons. What an amazing landscape and a feast for the eyes!! It's not difficult to see how it got it's name. The myriad of colours & textures, especially with the changing light was truly magnificent. The folded ridges of the Cordillera de la Sal, spectacular formations such as El ... read more
Climbing in Valle de Luna
Sue & Miri
Rock Formations

San Pedro de Atacama- a small village of about 5000 local inhabitants was my next destination. Located in what is considered the driest desert on earth, it's a long, 17hr night bus ride from La Serena. Actually the ride was pretty comfortable (I paid more for the salon cama seat), although I can never sleep on buses or planes. Even got tucked into "bed" by the conductor, who not only allocated blankets to everyone but dutifully fussed with them to make sure everyone was snug as a bug!! The long distance buses here in Chile are terrific! The best part of the trip, was the last hour or so. Early morning in the desert- love it. At the first sight of the Valle de Luna, I knew I was going to have a great time exploring ... read more
....and another!
Roadside Graves
Hostal Rural

Last week was spent in the driest desert in the world, the Atacama, with some other EAPers. As dry and dull as the little city of San Pedro was, the surroundings were simply amazing, and honestly, I couldn't have picked a better group of people to do it with. Salt Flats First day at San Pedro, we went to the salt flats nearby. The Atacama salt flats have some of the saltiest water in the world. A bunch of us that went jumped in to the almost freezing cold water. I just remember the faces of the others who looked on as a bunch of students jumped in to the water. The salt flats reminded me of the Dead Sea, except it was dead cold (pun intended) and didn't hurt as much since our bodies were ... read more
30 foot cactus
Llama meat empanada
Hot Springs

- Flight from La Serena to Antofogasta - 900 km Picking up our big red 4x4 Pickup truck was a piece of cake, finding out how the GPS on my iPhone works was a little more tricky. But soon enough we were on our way into a new and rather unreal world, the desert of the Norte Grande... - Drive from Anotfagasta to San Pedro de Atacama - 320 km We both had never seen so much sand, sand and more sand, but soon we learned that this landscape will follow us for the rest of our holidays. We arrived in San Pedro long after sun-set. The pueblo is a small laid back tourist hub for excursions to the plains of the Salar de Atacama, the massive volcanos and the famous El Tatio Geysers. ... read more
Salar de Atacama
Salar de Atacama

Back in Chile again 14-17th April ’13 San Pedro de Atacama 14th April ’13 continued….. So we finally found the Mamatierra Hostel and were met by a really lovely young lass who appeared to be running the place. She was rather concerned about the state I was in and quickly took us to our room and advised us to drink at least 3 litres of water each a day and told me to start drinking coca tea which they had at the hostel and to rest. As coca tea is supposed to help with altitude sickness I started drinking it straight away and it was actually a nice drink which was good. I couldn’t face walking back into town for dinner that night, in fact I didn’t really want to eat (another symptom of the altitude ... read more
1 San Pedro de Atacama (4)
1 San Pedro de Atacama (5)
2 Valley of the Moon (1)

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