• Day44

    11/06/17-13/06/17 San Pedro De Atacama

    June 13, 2017 in Chile ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    11/06/17-13/06/17 San Pedro De Atacama

    We got the bus at 4:30am from Uyuni to San Pedro De Atacama. This was an experience. Bolivian buses weren't quite as luxurious as the Peruvian ones that we were used to.

    Despite the early start, one local lady on the bus seemed wide awake and sang along out loud to a karaoke app on her phone. It wouldn't have been so bad if she had actually had a good voice. There were also a large number of children on the bus. The company overbooked and some people ended up standing in the aisles for the duration of the journey. Luckily we had seats!

    Crossing the border from Bolivia to Chile wasn't quite as straightforward as it had been crossing from Peru to Bolivia. The whole process took nearly two hours, and at one point involved us all sat against a wall with our bags lined up in front of us for a dog to be paraded up and down. Unfortunately for the security guards the dog seemed much more interested in what was going on around him and so took multiple attempts. We are not convinced the dog was actually trained in anything, and was purely there just for show.

    The security staff were friendly though, and let Tom pass through with his contraband (a cheese sandwich for lunch) after he declared it.

    Eventually, after thirteen hours, we reached San Pedro De Atacama. We decided to treat our time here as a holiday within our holiday, and be a bit more chilled than we have been. We also decided to stay somewhere a bit nicer than we have been, and stayed in a lovely hotel just outside the town centre, which had a heater in our room (which was very exciting).
    Unfortunately we were told we would not be able to visit some of the tourist sites, such as the geysers and the lagoons due to the snow. The snow seems to have caused havoc in this area, and we were told it's unusual for time of year. It hasn't snowed locally for three years. It's reassuring to see the UK isn't the only country to shut down with a bit of snow.

    On our first night we went for dinner with our friends, Max and Lisa and Janice. The food was great compared to Bolivian standards and we enjoyed the Chilean wine!

    We had the first lie in for a long time the following day, and had a lazy morning, only going into town to book a tour for that afternoon. We visited Le Valle De Luna, so called as it resembles the surface of the moon. The landscape was a mix of rocks, salt and sand dunes, which was a beautiful combination. We did a bit of a walk up to the top of a sand dune and enjoyed the view of the surrounding Andes and volcanoes. After this we watched the sunset before having our last dinner with Max and Lisa before going our separate ways.

    At 11pm we went to a star gazing session with a local astronomer. San Pedro is famous for its astronomy and people come here especially for it. Due to the lack of light pollution and low humidity it is a great place to see the stars.

    Our guide started by showing us some of the consolations with the naked eye, and pointed out some planets which to us looked like stars. We then got the opportunity to look through his telescope at the planets, and were able to see the rings on Saturn and some storms that caused dark moving stripes on the surface of Jupiter. We could even see three moons orbiting Jupiter. When we looked at the moon through his telescope we were able to see craters, and he let us take photographs.
    It was a very interesting evening and we both enjoyed it. It was so different to anything else we had done.

    The following morning we hired some bikes from our hotel and cycled to some ruins nearby, before having to return to catch a flight to Santiago, the capital of Chile.
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