Chile – Pt 3.

Daydreaming in the desert.

The third and final part of my holiday in Chile was a week in San Pedro de Atacama. This was the relaxing part of my vacation after 8 days on horseback. San Pedro is an oasis in the desert, and is a real tourist hotspot. As such it is well set up for those who want to take bus trips to see all the big attractions, and there are numerous companies all offering basically the same tours to the same places.

So I took a bus up to 4300 m to see the El Tatio geysers at sunrise (you have to see them at sunrise otherwise the steam doesn’t really show in the heat). These are nice, but not a patch on Yellowstone, and the circus of hundreds of buses is a little, well, offputting. On the way down all the buses stop at Machuca Village where you can get an overpriced lama kebab… or not.

I also took a bus tour of the valle de la luna (valley of the moon) and mars valley, to view the impressive rock and salt formations and the great dune. This one involved a fair bit of walking around so was quite enjoyable. A lot of people do rent bikes cycle up to the valle de la luna from town, but it was awfully hot, so I was actually really happy to pay for the air conditioned bus!

Finally I took a bus tour to Lagunas Miscanti and Miniques, which stopped to see the flamingos at Laguna Chaxa in the Salar de Atacama on the way back. IMG_3645 IMG_3665

I did manage a couple of things that weren’t bus tour based. A lovely couple I met in the hostel I was staying in invited me to join them on a day trip down to Laguna Tuyajto, a totally amazing place. Turned out to be a very eventful trip as their rental car blew a tire on the dirt road going down there, but we made it, and lived to tell the tale. Tuyajto is almost at (or above depending which website you believe) 4000 m in the Altiplano, so it was cold despite the clear skies and bright sunshine.


I also went mountain biking in the Quebrada del Diablo, which was pretty amazing (and the only active thing I did all week). Hot hot hot, and so short of breath exercising at altitude!

Something I don’t have a photo of is the night sky, I never saw so many stars!

San Pedro was a really easy place to be alone, because there were so many organized tours and also many other travelers around. That said, I was missing R by this point, and looking forward to being home. Some tense moments on the final day as a strike by airport workers threatened to ground me in Calama, but that was resolved and I was on my way home.