Because the bus strike was still in effect we had to take a secret bus from an undisclosed location that could only be paid in cash from Argentina. When we arrived at said location the workers threw our bags under the bus and quickly hurried us on as they worriedly looked behind their shoulders for protestors. Apparently earlier that week another Chilean bus tried to leave for San Pedro de Atacama and got pelted with stones. To avoid another mishap like that, companies began changing the locations and times of departure. Luckily, we had no problems and 12 hrs later arrived in San Pedro de Atacama. The trip from Salta to San Pedro Atacama is probably the most beautiful scenery we will experience on our trip. It went through so many ecosystems, from tobacco fields, to incredible mountains, to salt flats, to lagoons to deserts. Once in San Pedro we checked into our hostel and found a warm restaurant to eat a Chilean meal.
|Our "collectivo clandestino" as the Chileans called it.|
|My Chilean beef Cazuela|
|Nate´s lomo con huevo y papas|
San Pedro is in the Atacama desert, the driest in the world, with incredible natural beauty all around it. The town is very simply covered in adobe-style hostels and houses with dusty streets and firepits that are all lit at night. However, it's charm quickly disappears due to how touristy the town has become. Prices for hostels, food, and drinks were outrageous for the quality of service.
Our first full day in San Pedro we walked around the town, checking the different tours and decided that we would take a shot at sand boarding. Once before, Nate and I attempted to go skiing and almost split-up due to the stress it caused that day. Haha, but seriously. So we were a bit nervous how the day would pan out, luckily we had a great guide and fellow sand boarders. We set out in the early afternoon to La Valle de la Muerte and went down the dunes about 6-7 times each. It was quite a trek to get to the top each time. Nate was of course a semi-pro by the time we finished, and I was able to stand up the whole time by the time we left. So in my book a great success. We then took a drive over to La Valle de la Luna to see the sunset over the valley with some pisco sours, the national Peruvian drink, I guess due to the proximity of San Pedro to Peru the cultures really mesh. La Valle de la Luna, looked exactly that, like the moon. Just breathtaking and also freezing once that sun goes down.
|Like a Boss!|
|Valle de la Luna before sunset|
|Valle de la Luna after sunset|
Our next day we took it chill, because that's really the only speed in San Pedro and in the early afternoon took a dip in the salt lagoon (Laguna Cejar) which are borded by cristalized salt and is located within the Salar de Atacama . The salinity of the lagoons are 9 times that of the ocean! It was incredible how buoyant our bodies were in the water, even when we were trying to swim it was difficult since you couldn't put your legs under the water. As soon as we got out of the water the salt would immediately cake onto our skins and clothes. It took days to wash all the salt off of our gear, we still find it in some places. After our bath in the lagoon we went to Los Ojos del Salar (the Salt Lakes eyes) that were formed by fallen meteroites in the 40s. There we jumped in to wash off some of the salt, since it was "Agua Dulce" as our tour guide called it. We ended our day by visiting the Laguna Tebinquiche which is also borded by hard salt, which was so white and cold it was hard to believe it wasn´t snow, to the see sunset and flamingos. The view was just magnificent as the water in the lagoon reflected everything around it and created cool illusions. Our guide had set-up a table as we were taking pictures and when we came back to the van were greeted with some snacks and pisco sours to further add to our enjoyment of the views.
|Apparently this lagoon has a higher salt content than the Dead Sea|
|Can you believe there is no float underneath me?!|
|The caked salt on my skin, which actually burned after sometime|
|Los Ojos del Salar (two perfectly round, naturally formed, wells located between Laguna Cejar and Salar de Atacama)|
|Pictures before we jumped in and froze|
|Laguna Tebinquiche at sunset|
|You cant help but wan´t to jump, jump!|
We only spent four days in Chile and don't feel like we got a good representation of the country, since our time spent was only in the far north. From the southern-most tip of Chile to the northern-most part and everything in between, we hear its just one of the most diverse and naturally gorgeous countries on the continent. Heck, they have glaciers, hot springs, wine country, deserts, forests, cities, etc. Just a plethora of things to do and see, we feel lucky that we got to see a small sliver of such a beautiful country. Now onto Peru!
Till next time.