San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

The Amazing Atacama, Chile

I had been wanting to visit the Atacama Desert for ages.  It’s the driest desert in the world, with scenery that is truly spectacular. Arriving in San Pedro de Atacama, the little town on the edge of the desert, was pretty exciting.   It is simply gorgeous. The town itself is tiny with cute little dusty streets, lined with little adobe houses. But the real reason to visit is for the amazing landscapes.

First up was an afternoon trip to the Valle de la Luna and the Valle de la Muerte. The scenery was incredible. Apparently the name comes from NASA, as the valley’s dry and harsh terrain was much like the moon, and used for testing, such as a prototype for a Mars rover.

 

The next trip was to the Geysers del Tatio, which involved a 5.00 am start.  All worth it though, as the scenery was truly spectacular. The early start meant we got there just before the sunrise, when the colours were at their most beautiful. The Geyser field is the highest in the world, and the third biggest. Located at the foot of the Andes, with the pampas around them and with the snow-capped mountains in the background the geysers blowing steam looked simply breath taking. The other thing that was breath taking was the altitude – we were around 4200 metres high, and it was absolutely freezing at -10 degrees. I have never been so cold in my life! It was certainly worth it.

On the way down, we stopped off at a tiny town called Machuca. Apparently people used to live there but now there are only two people. It was kind of cute, but seemed to exist these days solely for tourists. I tried some chachacoma tea, which is supposed to help for those at altitude. I quite liked it, tasted a bit like a cross between green tea and chamomile.

On the way back we saw some of the local wildlife – vicunas, which looked to me like an alpaca, and a vizcacha, a strange looking animal that looked like a cross between a rabbit and a squirrel, but also jumped about a bit like a wallaby.  Spectacular San Pedro – go visit if you can!

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