Chile Part II – May 3 to May 6, 2017
San Pedro de Atacama
This was a part of Chile I heard every Chilean rant and rave about. After visiting, rightfully so. I’m honestly at the point I can’t even begin to compare the most beautiful nature I’ve seen on this trip. There’s so much that’s truly spectacular.
To begin, a few interesting things I learned about the Atacama desert that you may or may not know. It is the world’s driest desert, with many parts of it actually having (literally) 0% humidity. It’s surrounded by a couple mountain ranges that stop clouds/rainfall from getting in. I’ve spent plenty of time in Colorado (family from there), but I’ve never seen normal temperature swings or dryness like this. It would commonly be over 70 degrees in the heat of the day (with a very strong sun) and somewhere around freezing at night. The dryness would cause me to wake up at night with (what felt like) huge cracks in my lips and it hurt to move my hands because of how stiff and cracked they were.
But the nature was incredible. The first day there, I got in midday and didn’t have too much time for a tour, but had been texting a friend from South Africa that I met in Bariloche, Argentina that was now in San Pedro. We basically met up at a bar (an actual bar! I never see those down here) at like 3pm and drank and talked until 10pm.
The next day, still keeping conscious the altitude (about 8,000 ft here), I went on a bike ride with a couple friends I met through Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley). This offered some incredible sites with anything from salt caverns to amazing panoramics. We even made a friend we decided to call Benny! Such a sweet little dog that literally followed us for like 8 miles through many different stops.
After that, one of the most recommended trips I had heard of was Piedras Rojas (Red Stones). We hit a high altitude for the day of about 13,000 ft. And wow, some absolutely incredible scenery of lakes, volcanoes, salt and more. We saw a lot of wild Vicuñas, too (a local type of camel, similar to a llama). I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves.
My final day here before heading off on the Uyuni tour I decided to take it really easy. I went to one of the most beautiful and natural (the scenery) hot springs I had ever been to. That was definitely needed before the Uyuni tour, which isn’t exactly what I would consider relaxing.