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San Pedro de Atacama Travel Blog

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Sandboarders attacking a big dune in Valle de le Muerte.

Hello all,
Yesterday was more or less a travel day, and I was a bit disappointed I didn't get to see any of Arica.  But time is not always on your side when you're traveling on-the-cheap.

I took a bus with a company called Tur-Bus from Arica to San Pedro de Atacama last night.  That made two overnight busses in two nights.  Thankfully, this bus was breeze.  Although not quite as nice a bus as the night before, the temperature on the bus was much better.  I think I was tired enough to sleep no matter what this situation, so that likely helped.  Even after the cursory stop at a drug checkpoint at 1:00am, I got right back to sleep without any problem.

Me in an old, abandoned salt mine in Valle de Luna National Park. This was right after I licked the wall.
  It was only 11-1/2 hours before we arrived in San Pedro, and it all felt very easy.

San Pedro de Atacama is right in the middle of the Atacama Desert, but is centered around a green oasis in a small valley at 2,438 metres above sea level.  It's a town of only 5,000 people, but it is very well known on the tourist track.  Because of that there are many hotel choices, which is good.  But also because of that, it is a bit overpriced and touristy compared to the rest of Chile.  But, I felt like I had to at least get a room with a private bathroom after two nights on a bus.

This afternoon I picked up a tour to the Valle de Luna and the Valle de la Muerte (Valleys of the moon and death).   The whole area around San Pedro is volcanic in origin, and Volcan Lincancabur (5,500 metres, 18,000+ feet) towers over the oasis.

The sun peeks out from behind the Great Dune right before I climbed up there. We watched the the sunset, moonrise from that ridge on the right.
  Everything was spectacular, other-wordly and beautiful.  I was as if they transplanted a section of the moon right here into Chile.  We did tons of climbing, picture taking and explored an abandoned salt mine.  I met Julie from Boulder on the tour, and that way I had a picture buddy.  We were fortunate enough to be here during the full moon, which sparkled on the quartz on the valley walls and floors.  Within 10 minutes we watched the sun go down in one direction and the moon come up in the other.  We then scrambled down our 750 foot dune by the gathering light of the moon.  It was only made more surreal when the van driver was playing Pink Floyd on the the ride back (my fave song, Shine On You Crazy Diamond).

The whole experience certainly has me in one of those contemplative moods.

Full moon rises to the left of Volcan Lincanbur from the top of the Great Dune. (right before my camera battery died.) D'oh!
  I struggle to even come up with words for everything I saw, so I left a ton out.  And to think, if the bus schedule would have worked out diferently I may not have seen any of San Pedro.  I hope the pics do it a bit of justice.  Probably not.  :(

I'm only spending one night here in San Pedro, and tomorrow's bus over the Andes to Salta, Argentina leaves at 11:00am.  That bus will take about 13 hours, and arrive after midnight in Salta.  Then it's off to wine country!  I am also looking forward to my first comfy night of sleep here in South America!  Wish me luck.

worldup says:
Awesome pics, like your on a different planet.
Posted on: Feb 13, 2007
dmielke2 says:
Greetings from the north country. Its 4 degrees here, so enjoy the weather. I love this web sight idea. It looks like a great trip so far. You an Korie seem to be having fun. Were jeolice, see you when you get back. Love Mom & Dad.
Posted on: Feb 02, 2007
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Sandboarders attacking a big dune …
Sandboarders attacking a big dune…
Me in an old, abandoned salt mine …
Me in an old, abandoned salt mine…
The sun peeks out from behind the …
The sun peeks out from behind the…
Full moon rises to the left of Vol…
Full moon rises to the left of Vo…
I guess I know where the agua cali…
I guess I know where the agua cal…
The pretty little square.  San Ped…
The pretty little square. San Pe…
The sun sets from the top of the G…
The sun sets from the top of the …
San Pedro de Atacama
photo by: eefab