Blogs from Atacama, Chile, South America


South America » Chile » Atacama » Cerro Paranal September 4th 2023

It was cold at night. The typical desert weather – almost zero humidity, the days are hot, nights are cold; especially in the winter times. I made a mental note of turning on the propane tank heater at night when I would be back after the day trip. Yes, it would be a busy day; I knew that. During my planning stage, Daniela, the Manager from Ckoi Lodge made it a point we visit Piedras Rojas salt plain. It is located high above the sea level, over 4500m. Daniela chalked out the plan - on our way, we should visit the Laguna Miscanti and Minisque in the altiplano (high plain region of Andean region) of Atacama Desert. On our way back, we must stop in Laguna Chaxy. So, it was an all day busy, busy schedule ... read more
Ckoi Lodge
Lunch stop - a roadside Andean village
Near Miscanti lagoon

South America » Chile » Atacama » Cerro Paranal August 29th 2023

The driest desert at the highest altitude in Chile where some places have not seen rain in hundreds of years! Yes, that’s Atacama our next destination! Our flight from Punta Arenas to San Pedro, Atacama was scheduled to depart in the wee hours – close to 3 am. We didn’t have much choice. Punta Arenas is in the deep south of Chile – it is the gateway to Patagonia. And Atacama Desert is in the north of Chile. One needs to cross over 3000 km in the middle. One of my friends who has spent considerable time in Chile told me, “Are you crazy that you wanted to cover everything in Chile in one go – Patagonia to Atacama? Just in 10 days?” I just smiled...”Yup, ‘Crazy’ is my middle name”. So, there we were, sitting ... read more
Captured from the plane - Aliens!
Windfarms at high altitude
City Center at San Pedro

South America » Chile » Atacama February 17th 2023

As said in Firesign Theatre.... it's the stinking desert! There are those of us who prefer the verdant greens, the lush vegetation, abundant colorful flowers, and a plethora of animal life. While we have come to enjoy these types of venues, we also love to admire the desolate, bleak, stark and wind-swept environs of the desert. This seemingly inhospitable environment possesses its own beauty but displays it differently. Sunrise and sunset are particularly enjoyable. Now, this is one dry desert. Wait….what does that mean? Well, technically by definition a desert is an area of land that receives less than 10 inches (25cm) of rain per year. Pretty dry, yeah? Well, the Atacama is the second driest desert in the world, bested only by a patch of land in Antarctica. The Atacama Desert is the result of ... read more
We love Flamingos!
Atacama Desert Beauty
A Geologist's Happy Place

South America » Chile » Atacama » Caldera March 8th 2022

From Fodor's: The Atacama Desert meets the Pacific Ocean in the Antofagasta region of Northern Chile. Rich in history, the desert-scape is peppered with abandoned nitrate mining towns and active copper mines around the Pan-American Highway. Dramatic cliffs drop to long beaches formed by the Pacific Ocean’s belting waves. Dry and arid winds have resulted in salt basins and lava flows throughout the Atacama Desert, lending it a moon-like landscape. The Valley of the Moon in Los Flamencos National Reserve is an exceptional spread of dunes, rugged mountains, and distinctive formations. At this remote location by the Pacific Ocean, dark skies offer some of the world’s most beautiful and clear star-viewing. I am reposting a funny story from our visit to the Atacama: After a few days on the coast of Chile, we rapidly tired of ... read more
Snow near the desert
Wine tasting in Chile

South America » Chile » Atacama » Caldera August 1st 2020

I can't say I have been to many remote places in the world. They may have seemed remote, like the Atacama, Siberia, or the Arctic Circle. But check this out! Looking to really get off the grid? Welcome to Point Nemo, which gives a whole new meaning to the term “middle of nowhere.” Officially known as the “the oceanic pole of inaccessibility,” Point Nemo is the oceanic point that is the farthest from any shore — you may actually be closer to astronauts in the International Space Station than you are to any human on Earth. Located in the Pacific Ocean, Point Nemo got its name from the Latin word for “no one,” as well as the fictional sailor from “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.” When drifting at Point Nemo, you are surrounded by well ... read more
The Atacama

South America » Chile » Atacama » Caldera May 30th 2020

Have you ever visited one of the oldest and driest deserts in the world, the Atacama in Chile? Well, on the long drive through the "Thin Country", we spent a few days in the Atacama before heading south. They say some parts of the desert have not seen rain for over a hundred years. As I recall, Mr. Mike and I were there during the early spring. The nearest town, San Pedro was a cold and windy frontier town, on the edge of the Atacama. But on the few occasions it rains, the desert transforms into a beautiful cascade of wildflowers. NASA uses the Atacama to mimic Mars. The Valle de Marte resembles the red planet. The unique colors have also provided landscapes for Hollywood movies. The desert is also ideal for stargazing, with cool, clear ... read more
Breakfast at Tatio
Tatio geysers

South America » Chile » Atacama October 29th 2018

Nächster Halt auf der Reise war San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. Diese kleine sehr touristische Städtchen erreichten wir mittels einer 11 stündigen Busfahrt, welche sich aber relativ kurz anfühlte da die Aussicht auf der Fahrt auf die umliegenden Berge einfach fantastisch war. Der Grenzübertritt von Argentinien nach Chile war dann dagegen weniger fantastisch, da alle Gepäckstücke geöffnet und durchsucht werden mussten. Dies auf einer Meereshöhe von ca. 4200 Meter, was man beim atmen auch bereits merkte. Schlussendlich sind wir dann aber doch noch abends in San Pedro de Atacama angekommen. Am nächsten Morgen sind einige der Gruppe in die nahegelegene Atacama Wüste gefahren um Sandborden zu gehen. Ich verzichtete, da ich dies bereits vor einigen Jahren in Namibia gemacht habe. Am Nachmittag stand dann ein Ausflug ins "Valle de la Luna" an. Dies ist wie ... read more
Sonnenuntergang in der Wüste
Die grosse Sanddüne

South America » Chile » Atacama » El Salvador August 18th 2018

I was reading an issue of Travel and Leisure today at work. I had a choice of You Tube, doing a few hours of Continuing Education, or reading. I did all three to be exact, but this caught my eye. This article made a few good points, and missed a few as well. First, we need to define responsible tourism. In other words, how do we affect the locations and businesses we visit? Are we helping the community, and helping their businesses through our actions? Basically, our objective should be "making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit." Next, does it make a difference to us travelers? Yes, a better informed traveler helps make it easier to connect with locals, creating a more authentic experience. The idea is to ... read more
Is that you???

South America » Chile » Atacama July 26th 2017

Save all to OneDrive - Personal These are on everyone's list. I have been to each of these, or very near in many cases. Atacama Desert, Chile When url= needs footage from Mars, they film in this ethereal landscape stretching some 600 miles across Chile. With less than one inch of average annual rainfall, it’s the driest non-polar place on the planet. Certain regions in the Atacama are so inhospitable not even a plant or insect can be found. Surprisingly, url= read more
We got a flat tire here!
Death Valley, the lowest place in the US
Everest, enough said!

South America » Chile » Atacama » Cerro Paranal May 31st 2017

Enjoy the open road? Jack Kerouac might have said it best in his famous novel On the Road: “I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future.” His words serve as a testament to the power of a road trip; how the process of packing a car and driving long distances has the ability to transform us. Yet, what about the roads themselves? What makes this form of transportation more life-changing than, say, flying in an airplane? Or taking a url= The answer could be in the old chestnut: It’s not the destination but the journey that matters I always think of the old Willie Nelson song, "On the Road, Again" when... read more
The road less traveled?
Love our National Parks

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