BootsnAll Travel Network



Atacama

From La Serena it was a long overnight bus ride to San Pedro de Atacama where I spent the next few days. The town is really small with only about 2000 people living here, and a lot of tourists. The main street in the town is full of tour agecies offereing trips to the local sites and restaurants. I found a really nice hostel to stay in, with traditional style buildings made of mud bricks and a thatched roof around a central courtyard. I spent a while walking round the town trying to decide which of the main tours I would do the next day, but in the end gave up and went on got a bottle of wine with a couple of girls I had travelled up from La Serena with. After a good nights sleep I decided not to do any of the tours and instead hired a bike for the day. So I set off into the desert by myself with a sketch map of the area, a lot of water and suntan cream. I decided not to be put off by the name and went to see the valley of the dead. Here I cycled along a track in an enclosed rock valley until I reached an area of sand dunes where the local sport of sand boarding is popular. I decided against trying it and headed back to the main road and on to the moon valley. This was a difficult ride in the hot weather and up a lot of steep hills, but the effort was worth it. The place was amazing. It is one of the most popular tourist sites in the area but all the tours go there for sunset, so I had the entire place to myself. Cycling through salt flats, sand dunes, past strange rock formations, it as like nothing else I had seen before. After climbing up a sand dune to get better views over the whole area, I managed to find a bit of shade to have lunch before cycling back into the town. Luckily the way back was mostly down hill so it was relativly easy going. Later in the afternoon I cycled out the other side of town to an oasis for a swim to cool off. Then in the eveneing I went out for dinner with a group of people I had met the day before. We went to a really nice restaurant in a courtyard with the tables arranged around a fire in the middle. It does get really cold here at night, so the fire was greta. THe next day I had a very early start, 4am. I went on a trip to the Geysers del Tatio, the highest geysers in the world. Apparently the best time of the day to go is at sunrise, as when the temperature difference is greatest the geysers look most impressive. Very strange to see the boiling water right next to frozen ice. Spent a while looking at the geysers then had breakfast. Thankfully the sun started to reach us then as it was absolutly freezing. To warm up we went for a swim in a hot pool, this was really nice until we had to get out back into the freezing cold air. Then it was a really nice drive back in to town where we saw llamas, guanacos, flamingos and nandus. The following day I got the bus back to Salta, Argentina. This was one of the best bus journeys I have been on as it went up over the Andes, past salt flats, volcanoes, oasis. At one point I think the road is up at nearly 5000m, so there is snow by the side of the road. Arrived back in Salta late in the evening and just spent a few days there getting ready to go to Bolivia.




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