The trip to the desert ( Atacama)
San Pedro de Atacama Travel Blog› entry 11 of 19 › view all entries
It was an early start to the day. I had my 1st hot shower in awhile at Punta Arenas last night. I can't tell you how good that feels. The last 9 days had been cold wipe downs which left one in a state of semicleanliness. It felt like 9 days of grime was slowly being washed down the drain and was truly invigorating.
It took some effort getting out of the warm bed this morning. And after a hasty breakfast we rushed through the bracing cold to the Punta Arenas airport for our flight to calama. The flight to santiago was amazing as once again we flew over the southern icefields. At santiago we had a 4 hour layover and in typical singaporean style decided to go down to town to look for a good restaurant to have lunch before continuing with our journey. We'd found a lovely french restaurant in providencia and settled ourselves into a corner table. Plastered on some of the walls were food articles giving the place many stars. Soon the lunch crowd began arriving. The woman in typical tai tai clothes and the men in suits all looking very self inportant of course. They gave us the once over and you could almost imagine them thinking how the restaurant could allow such riffraff to dine at such a distinguished establishment. We had the set lunch and it was interesting inthe sense that the mains was conger eel cooked with vegetables in a curry-like sauce. Nice but nothing special to us asians.
Providencia is obviously an upmarket area compared to Barrio Brasil ( the place where we stayed previously in Santiago). Pretty shops, a perfusion of street side cafes, old buildings in good condition with french shutter windows. There were more than a few street photographers obviously capturing inspiration from the buildings and cafes.
We didn't loiter too long as we had a plane to catch.
The flight from Santiago to Calama was short but interesting. Over the 2 hours we had the andes to our right and as we progressed up the length of Chile the mountains slowly turned from snow covered to a desert like red. We were entering the land of the Atacama desert and altiplanos.
We landed in Calama a rather uninteresting town, defined by the fact that it has one of ( if not) the largest copper mines in the world. We grabbed the airport bus to San pedro. The initial journey involved travelling through a rather flat and uninteresting desert but as we climbed up towards san pedro the terrain changed. It developed into interesting mountainous terrain in fastastical shapes almost like what you'd expect the moon to be like. It was then that we realised we were passing through the area of the famed valle de lune.
After 1 and a half hours we finally reached the oasis of San pedro de atacama.
San Pedro is a small dusty town layed out in grid. It lies at 2400m and essentially is the gateway to the rest of the atacama plateau and altiplano. Some would call it quait with it's adobe houses, but somehow it made me feel trapped in a tourist trap.
It was late by the time we got there. So all we did was grab a quick bite and soon we were asleep dreaming of what we'd be doing over the next few days