Biking thru the desert

San Pedro de Atacama Travel Blog

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In the morning we awoke refreshed, having slept quite deeply as we were finally in a normal climate with normal beds.  Thomas and I went out for breakfast and discovered an extremely dead town, with hardly any restaurants or even tour shops open.  We tried to find a short tour to the Valley of the Moon, but they all came back too late, as the other 3 were all on a bus to the Peruvian border at half 8 that evening. We took the bikes again therefore, but not before the hostel lady gave out to all of us quite rudely.  The place had no luggage storage, but as I had the room an extra night we figured we could just pile the bags on my bed during the day.  The lady didn't like this, why I don't know, and at 10:31, one minute after checkout, she demanded everyone not booked in leave immediately, bags in hand.
  The place had signs up warning that no one without a room could be in the courtyard area (alcohol was also forbidden) but luckily finally she backed off and left us to our devices.  I'd say its by far the unfriendliest and least accommodating hostel Ive stayed in so far! (for those of you headed that way, its Hostal Florida, proceed with caution).
    We took the bikes and headed for the Valley of the Moon under the hot desert sun.  It was a fairly short ride to the park entrance, but with the heat it was quite difficult riding, so I was glad when we discounted and took a walk through some canyons.  These were even crazier than the ones I had seen the day before, with twists and turns, dark caves, steep inclines and mad formations.
  At times we were nearly crawling on our knees through narrow underground tunnels, using flashlights to see, seconds later we were in the brilliant blinding sun again, scaling mountains of sand.  We walked around for about 45 minutes, exhausting work in the extreme heat.  Once we got back on the bikes I wasn't nearly as rested as I anticipated, and had a massive hill to scale right away.  I walked it in the end, and as we continued the sun really started to get to me.  My throat was constantly parched, my head started to pound and I just felt generally ill.  As I fell farther and farther behind I finally decided to stop for a while, so I rested in the shade of a cave shaped mound while the other 3 went on to to a viewpoint.  They were only gone for about 20 minutes though and then came back to where I was, as further on there wasn't much to see anyways apparently.
  We stashed the bikes once again and walked up a steep sandy hill to another viewpoint, stopping here and seeking some shade for a bit of lunch.  Back in San Pedro we had bought some lovely sliced ham and cheese and fresh bread, so we munched on these sandwiches now and took a break from strenuous exercise under the desert sun. 
    Afterwards Thomas and Jullien walked further to see what was over the next pinnacle, but Eliza and I stayed and sunbathed for a while.  Soon it was time to head back, which thankfully was almost all downhill and went pretty quickly.  Back in the hostel we broke all the rules and sat in the courtyard drinking a celebratory beer, but a guy was on duty now in place of the Angry Lady and he didn't seem to mind.
  We even all showered, which I'm sure would have given Angry Lady a heart attack if she knew.  Once clean we went for dinner, which took even longer to find as the French had very few pesos left and didn't want to take out more before leaving the country.  Finally, after nearly half an hour, we settled on a cheap burger and quiche shop and had a bite.  By this time it was nearly time for their bus, so I regretfully said goodbye to my travel buddies since Rurrenabaque and was once again on my own.  I finished the night uploading pictures which was for once, a quick and painless process, yea reintroduction to fast Internet!  Back in the hostel I had the room to myself despite it being a dorm for 4, so tried to relax and sleep but the staff had loads of people over in the main reception area and they were incredibly loud - ironic for a hostel, as I'm sure patrons have kept countless workers awake and annoyed with noise over the years!

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San Pedro de Atacama
photo by: eefab