Marc & Nora ROUND THE WORLD 2005/2006 - Join us!

Chile-Travelogue  |  Travel time: September 2005 - July 2006  |  by marc and nora L.

CHILE #2: San Pedro de Atacama

After a 24 hr bus journey sat directly in front of what can only be described as a vomit inducing overflowing chemical toilet we arrived in the strange little town of San Pedro de Atacama......fresh air......and BREAAAAAAAATH!......Ahhhhhhh!!!

At fist site this place reminds you of a typical Mexican village which you might see on an old Wild West movie.....single story adobe clad houses forming a little town of corridors (see the photos). It is really quite an interesting place to wander around. To be honest though 90% of the buildings are either restaurants, Hostels or travel agents...what was here before tourism is anyones guess (It actually sits on the old trade route between Bolivia and the Pacific coast of Chile so thats where it all began). Well as luck would have it we needed a hostel, a restaurant and a travel agent.....so clearly we had come to the right place!

surrounding landscape of san pedro

surrounding landscape of san pedro

pure desert!

pure desert!

san pedro - with volcano in the background

san pedro - with volcano in the background

a typical street in san pedro

a typical street in san pedro

another typical street

another typical street

a wild west movie could be filmed here!

a wild west movie could be filmed here!

san pedro's church

san pedro's church

We stayed in "Hostel Florida" at which instead of being greeted by Mickey Mouse (of course one expects such things in Florida) we were greeted by some miserable old git who to be quite honest freaked everybody out. E.g Nora and I along with another 10 guests or so were attempting to leave the hostel at 4am in order to make a trip to the El Tatio geysers. The door to the hostel was actually locked and we were basically stuck inside the dark hostel entrance with no key or light switch in sight. On of the girls went back towards the communal area whispering "Señor, Señor" in the hope of finding somebody who worked there. Next thing there is a scream as the old man, sitting in the corner of the room in complete darkness, switches on his torch, which is aimed at his own face, and just stares at shaking wreck of a girl!......Weirdo! He wasn´t all bad though as he did very professionally (about 10secs) break into our room with a chopped up piece of plastic water bottle (we had shut the door and left the key inside).....sometimes you just have to turn a blind eye to the level of security here in S.A!

Not only is San Pedro a launching pad for trips into Bolivia´s Salar de Uyuni but it has loads to offer on its doorstep....Moon Valley, El Tatio Geysers, Trips into the Atacama desert and the salt lakes, sand boarding and more!

TRAVELLERS TIP: Only one ATM in town and they do not accept VISA cards. Plenty of other places to change cash and travellers cheques though throughout the town....but not the best exchange rates![/i]

Our first outing was to the Valles de La Luna (Moon Valley) for sunset. The guide took us to a few view points on route to Moon Valley to explain the geology and origin of the surrounding desert, mountains and settlements. We then stopped at Death Valley which was mistakenly named so by a visiting French European priest who after being told it was called Valle de la Marte (Valley of Mars - after the planet and due to the rock formations and colour) he got confused and heard it as Valle de la Morte (Morte = Death in French)....and so the the new name of Valle de la Muerte (Valley of Death) was born. We made it to Moon Valley and little late and didn´nt have time to climb all the way up the huge sand dune which gives you the best views of the sunset over the valley but we nevertheless found a pretty cool spot and watched the sun fall behind the horizon.

TRAVELLER TIP: Booked our trips to Valles De la Luna & El Tatio Geysers with Desert Adventures. Good value, good vehicles, multi-lingual and informative guides

valle de la luna - with volcanoes in the background

valle de la luna - with volcanoes in the background

strange rock formations

strange rock formations

marc and me in valle de la luna

marc and me in valle de la luna

like a sci-fi movie set

like a sci-fi movie set

another view of valle de la luna

another view of valle de la luna

strange stone formations

strange stone formations

valle de la luna at sunset

valle de la luna at sunset

marc and me

marc and me

the road that takes us home

the road that takes us home

another view of the road

another view of the road

Next day was an early start (4am) as we were heading up to the El Tatio geysers. At that time of the day in that part of the world and at that altitude (approx. 4000m) it gets pretty cold and during the drive from town to the geysers, which is about 3 hrs, and as the rest of the bus sIept as we drove through the night I watched the windows of the mini-bus literally freeze over thick with ice......brrrrrrrr! On arrival at El Tatio it was about -14deg c.

The reason to arrive so early is because of the certain air pressure changes at that time of the day allow the steam of the geysers to break through the surface of the water. So after a wander through the geyser field we were fed breakfast which included boiled eggs cooked directly in the bubbling waters of the geyser craters!

Next we (the blokes) went for a dip in a thermal pool which was fed from the steaming waters pouring out of a nearby geyser. At first it was disappointingly luke warm but then as you approached the source of the water the arse burningly hot waters came in waves and grown men were screaming like girls as they hopped in and out of the pool. Getting dried, undressed and re-dressed in the open in temperatures of -14deg c had to be the worst part though...not just for the pain but also for the male pride!!

The journey back from the geysers took us through some of the most spectacular scenery we have seen so far on this trip...from barren desert to snow capped volcanoes and old lava flow to lush green valleys and 10m tall cactii through to altiplano full of Alpaca and llama.....really amazing!!!

Back in San Pedro we booked our trip into Bolivia with a company Estrella del Sur and settled down for another early rise.....Adios Chile.....Hola Bolivia

5am - the geysirs

5am - the geysirs

highly active

highly active

some more

some more

it is getting more and more active round here...

it is getting more and more active round here...

strange colours from different mineral deposits

strange colours from different mineral deposits

another view of the mineral deposits

another view of the mineral deposits

marc warming up in the thermal pool

marc warming up in the thermal pool

beautiful landscape

beautiful landscape

volcanoes in the background

volcanoes in the background

alpaca

alpaca

bird reserve

bird reserve

fantastic colours - the photos just show half the beauty of this scenery

fantastic colours - the photos just show half the beauty of this scenery

a giant cactus

a giant cactus

another alpaca and volcano

another alpaca and volcano

unreal landscape - like a painting

unreal landscape - like a painting

a church in the middle of nowhere

a church in the middle of nowhere

a posing llama

a posing llama

another llama

another llama

© marc and nora L., 2005
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The trip
 
Description:
Hello - 5 more days!!! On the 12th of September we are setting off! Our plan is to travel round the world for a period of 10 months. 1st stop: Thailand (1 month) and cambodia 2nd stop: Via Singapore (overland) to Australia where we plan to stay for approximately 4-5 months. 3rd stop: New Zealand (2 months) (north and south island) 4th stop: South America (approx. 3 months) (Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and if time and money allows we might visit costa rica)
Details:
Start of journey: Sep 12, 2005
Duration: 11 months
End of journey: Jul 31, 2006
Travelled countries: world-wide
United Kingdom
Thailand
Malaysia
Cambodia
Singapore
Australia
Australia & Pacific
New Zealand
South America
Chile
Argentina
Bolivia
Peru
Ecuador
Canada
The Author
 
marc and nora L. is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 15 years.
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