First steps in Chile

Published: December 5th 2009
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Amazing sunset and its reflection in salt lagoonAmazing sunset and its reflection in salt lagoonAmazing sunset and its reflection in salt lagoon

This is the original photo! no photoshop, no changes, no retouching!
Hi, its Lilach this time -

The Salar in Bolivia, which Omer told you all about, was our last stop in Bolivia. From there we have crossed the border to Chile. Our first stop in Chile was a small town called Putre, which is the entry point to Lauca national park.

Our first steps in Chile were not very positive - first, there was no place to change money in the border point. It went on, with a big surprise we had regarding reaching Putre. When we bought a bus ticket in La Paz to Putre, no one told us, that actually the bus will drop us on the highway junction leading to Putre (Putre was 4km away from the junction...). Not only that we were in the middle of the highway, there was nothing in the junction - no phone, no taxis, no sign with informaton - absoloutly nothing. Before we even understood that we are in the middle of the highway, the bus that dropped us was already way gone.
So, there we were, with no clue where exactly is Putre, how can we get there, and only knew from a comment that the bus driver made
Happy on the lift (at the back of a pick up) to PutreHappy on the lift (at the back of a pick up) to PutreHappy on the lift (at the back of a pick up) to Putre

Yes - we made it, we found someone to take us!
that it is about 4km away...
Tal, was already getting ready to walk into town, hoping to find there a taxi to come back for us, as suddenly a pick up turned from the highway into the way to Putre. We stopped the pick up and actually begged for them to take us. They hesistated for a minute, as they only had 2 seats available at the back - but we managed to convince them, and so the kids were placed in the back seat, and we with all our bags jumped into the open trunk which was filthy and full with all kind of construction materials and oils... But, at least we had a ride into the town center.
Our bad start with Chile did not end then, though! It continued with the hard learning that Chile is double the cost of Bolivia or Peru. We also learned that though it is a tiny town with a fairly large variety of hotels and accomodation, it was largly full “thanks” to a Canadian company tht was filming a commercial in town, with 50 people occupying most of the rooms.... Eventually when we made it to find a room, we also learned that the only ATM in town in closed until 9:00am next morning, as it is Sunday... and there we were - with not even 1 Chilean peso, no food (the Chileans are very strict and do not allow to bring any food across the border), very hungry as we have been on the bus since 5am, the only tour agency that was open on Sunday offered us a trip that will leave next morning at 8:30 (before the ATM opens 9...) and will not accept US$. Eventually we managed to solve it all - we found a restaurant for dinner that was willing to accept US$ for a reasonable exchange rate and with reasonable cost of food (not before we checked about 5 other restaurants); the hostel owner & the tour operator has agreed to wait for payment to be made in the afternoon after we will be back from the tour and we had luck that the hostel and the shop next to it both belonged to the same family and so we got also to buy food for our breakfast and pic-nic lunch without paying until we were back from our tour.
After sorting all these, we could happily leave the next morning on a tour to see Lauca National Park, the one and only reason we for which we arrived to Putre.
It was a beautiful park - we saw some caves, walked up to a view point to see many volcanoes in the park and around it, and many lakes and lagoons in between these mountains. We walked along two of these lagoons and saw lots of birds llamas and Vicunias which are the origin wild animal of Llama. We also saw a few Viscachas which is a kind of a wild rabbit with tail that reminds a squirrel.

From Putre we continued our way to San Pedro de Atacama. San Pedro is a small very turistic town serving as the base for exploring this desert and the surrounding. Our stay in San Pedro was very pleasant, and we had good time and enjoyed some wonderful excursions.

On the first day, we went to an afternoon - evening excursion to Lagoonas "Cejas". These are salt lagoons inside the salt area of the desert. Like in the dead sea in Israel, due to the high concentration of salt in the water, one can float
on the water! The advantage over the dead sea was that though the salt concentration is high, it is not as high as in the dead sea, thus it did not burn any of our scratches. From there we went to a sweet water lagoon, so we could wash off the salt. The afternoon ended near another salt lagoon with an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G sunset, reflecting on the salt lagoon and coloring the skies in colors.
The next morning, we had another great trip, this time to a volcanic area of the desert, with gaysers, steam hols, hot springs etc. The only drawback was we had to be ready for this trip at 4am in the morning, in order to make it in time for the gaysers (wo hours drive) and it was freezing cold. Getting up at 3:30am is something we have already done before, but waking up and finding that the town is disconnected from water during the night, was not so fun.... But, nothing like lack of fresh water can break our family.
At the second half of this long day, we went on another excursion to "Valle de la Luna" - the moon valley. It got its name as the rock formations reminded people of the moon. Many of the rocks are actually salt rocks, and walking through a creek between these rocks or cliffs, we could hear cracking noise made by the rocks which expand and shrink with the changes of temperatures and humidity.
After having this very long day, that started at 3:30 am and ended up after 22:00, we devoted the next day to doing nothing! well, except some schooling for the kids.

We left San Pedro the next morning on our way to Argentina (Salta), knowing that we will get back to Chile in a few weeks.

The pictures I have included in this blog are only a glimpse into the many photos we took. To view them all, hit the following links::

All our photos from Lauca National Park

All our Atacama photos

Hasta Pronto,


Additional photos below
Photos: 9, Displayed: 9


Amazing sunset in AtacamaAmazing sunset in Atacama
Amazing sunset in Atacama

This is the original photo shot, we did not make any changes! no effects used!

5th December 2009

Hello Sapirs
I'm impressed from your output - in travel, in blogging, in photographing. You are writing faster than I can read :) Looks like you're having a great time there. The pictures are great, places looks awesome! Continue to enjoy, Erez
12th December 2009

חג חנוכה שמח
שלום יקרים חג חנוכה שמח,שיהיה לכם המון כיף בהמשך.נהנים לקרוא את הבלוג,לראות התמונות ועוד יותר לראות ולשמוע אתכם בסקייפ. אוהבים ומתגעגעים סבתא וסבא
14th March 2011
Shachar playing in the salt lagoon

I love this photo!
15th March 2011

Thank you very much!
As the mother of this child, and the wife of the photographer, I can tell you that not only the picture is great - also the kid in it and the photographer who took it are great!!

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