The alarm rang at 345 am but we were so not keen on getting up. Shawn hit the snooze button and we carried on in blissful ignorance. To our surprise we heard an incessant knocking on our window. It was the land lady of our hotel. Somehow in our really shitty spanish we had conveyed to her that we were going to the tatio geysers and she had taken it upon herself to make sure we were awake. So reluctantly we dragged our sorry asses out of bed and washed up before the transport got here. I think at this juncture I should relate how we ended up at The Hotel Pachamama at the edge of town. We had planned to visit San Pedro but had somehow overlooked booking accomodation. On the afternoon of our flight out to san pedro we started calling accommodation but they were either full or rediculously expensive.
Finally we managed to get a room for 1 night only at Timoloh. It was ok but somehow we were not provided breakfast. Anyways, we went searching for an accommodation and found this non-descript 'hotel' at the edge of town. Hotel might be a gross overstatement of the place. It's got simple rooms, no amenities and the rooms look out on to a common compound which is better described as a sandy enclosure with no landscaping at all. As for the 'restaurant' well it's more like the living area of an adjoining hut where the care taker lady sleeps. Oh and did I mention they switch off the water after 10pm so you can't even flush the toilet. We had to look for the caretaker lady on more than one occasion to start the water. As for the care taker lady, we never really got her name but shawn and I decided to call her pachamama for lack of any better name.
She couldn't speak a word of english and our spanish is really bad so a lot of gesturing and stuff went into bargaining for the rooms, sorting out the water situation and the timings for breakfast. Saying that she seemed to have a good heart and always tried to make small talk when we left the hotel. Hmm... maybe she was just cursing us....
Anyways back to the tatio geysers.We arrived before day break and found it to be freezing cold. something like 5 to 10 below. After paying our entrance fees we took a walk around the geyser field. Was it spectacular and amazing? Well, personally I found it kinda blah. Nothing really to shout about, just some boiling water which occasionally escapes as steam. To sweeten the deal, the tours usually boil some eggs in the geothermal vents and give them out to the tourist to eat.
We also visited some hot pools where you could swim. Actually it was more like tepid water so I spent more time just standing around watching people pretend to be nice and warm in the water. The journey back was uneventful. A short stop at a village to take photos and buy grilled llama satay and then back to town by 12.
We spent the next few hours resting before the afternoon trip to the valle de lune.
The trip to the valle left at 4pm which was essentially the middle of the afternoon and it was really hot and sunny. Thankfully there wasn't much walking involved. The 1st stop was the valle de muerta. This area had some interesting rock formations and also some steep sand dunes great for sandboarding. Anyways the guide began to explain about how the landscape was formed.
It started out well, he used key words like erosion etc but we soon realised there wasn't much substance to his explanations apart from the use of key terminology over and over again. When pressed by some the tourist for a better explaination he would come up with even more technical terms some of which obviously had nothing to do with geology ( eg mitosis) Shawn and I stood at the back and couldn't stop sniggering after listening to all this bullshit. We went on to visit some sites around the valle de lune. Essentially there was once alot more water in this region and it has since dried up, leading to the formation of different types of crystals. So in essence, the spectacular scene seen in twilight is due to the reflection of moonlight off all these different crystals.
Unfortunately, when we went it wasn't a full moon and there was actually awhole lot of cloud cover. We did get to see a really beautiful sunset. Apart from the scenery the valle de lune trip was notable for some people we met. First there was Charlie,Cambridge grad, travelling round the world for 6 months before heading back to the UK. We were to have a great together that night. And Sergio, Cyna and Sergio's girlfriend. They lived in Vina del Mar and worked on cruise ships but were on holidays. So before we knew it we had found some local guides to bring us around vina and valparaiso.