San Pedro de Atacama
San Pedro de Atacama Travel Blog› entry 34 of 93 › view all entries
When I awoke at 10am on monday morning we were 12 hours into our journey north and I'd slept far better than any night in La Serena. A look out of the window revealed a far more arid landscape than before and we were clearly desert-bound. After an empanada (full-size versions of empanaditas) break we arrived in San Pedro at around 4pm and checked-in to the Puritama hostel. Luckily, we had one of the deluxe 'matrimonial' rooms, complete with fully-functioning shower, hot water and heating (not standard for the other guys).
San Pedro is a strange town, and not in a bad way. It seems there almost exclusively for tourists, as the exit town for the 4x4 crossing into Bolivia (which we were here for) and for some pretty impressive atural landscapes in the surrounding hills.
Allegedly Death Valley has no sinister reasons for it's name. Apparently whoever discovered it named it, in French 'Valle de Mars' on account of it looking as you would imagine the surface of Mars to look. Someone came along later and mis-interpreted it (or maybe mis-read it, I can't quite remember) to 'Valle de Mort', or Death Valley.
We'd had a great intro to sandboarding in Oregon so we were hoping for more of the same, and whilst it was fun, the cheap equipment (loose bindings with no heel strap) made it very hard and lots of bad workmen were blaming their tools, so to speak.
After the pleasant ride back we ate an excellent meal for pennies in what could only have been someone's living room-come-restaurant. We were off again shortly after for a tour of some of the local landscape, walls weeping salt that pop if you listened carefully and Death Valley from the other end. The main part of the trip was 'Valley of the Moon', and a 20-minute hike up another sand-dune to wait for the sun set at the top. Well worth the effort for the fantastic views, but not half as much for the hugely fun (and quite childish) race down the dune afterwards.