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Provincia de El Loa

Here you’ll find travel reports about Provincia de El Loa. Discover travel destinations in Chile of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

Most traveled places in Provincia de El Loa:

  • Day44

    Now we never expected 24 hours on a bus to be fun and I can assure you it wasn't! Turbus, the company we travelled with do not treat you as well as we have recently become accustomed too. They had run out of the reclined seats so we had to go for semi reclined which wasn't the end of the world however there isn't a lot of space between you and the seat in front of you so it was a little bit claustrophobic! Especially as you have to keep your bag and things under your feet for fear of being robbed which doesn't help with the space problem.

    I can't say you don't get fed as that wouldn't be true but you don't get much at all. Around 11:30am we were given a small carton of juice and a biscuit. We didn't get fed again until 9:30pm when they gave us another small carton of juice and a ham and cheese sandwich! Luckily we had planned for such eventualities and had been rationing our supplies throughout the journey. They do however stop occasionally and let some random get on the bus with cakes, sandwiches or other random items for sale.

    Around 10pm, the bus driver came onto the bus and said something in Spanish. Pretty much everyone got up and got off the bus. We were at a bus station though so just figured that this was their stop until we looked around and realised that only the English speaking travellers were left on the bus. It was at that moment we realised that we had missed something important. Shortly after, the driver got back on and said in perfect English and in the style of Arnie 'get off the bus'. Stupid gringos! Turns out they needed to refuel so we had to get off.

    We eventually made it to San Pedro around 10am the following day. The views towards the end of the journey were incredible but it made you realise we are literally in the middle of the desert in the arse end of nowhere. The bus station is just a shelter with a few seats in and everywhere seems so baron I half expected to see some tumbleweed rolling down the street.

    We somehow managed to walk straight past our hostel so it took us a lot longer than it should have done to get there! As it was early, we weren't able to check in yet so we wandered across to the main street in search of some food and civilisation.

    After a hearty breakfast and some crappy Nescafé coffee we headed back to or hostel to check in. We are staying in a 4 bed dorm which is nice as they are all single beds and is so much better than sleeping in a bunk bed!

    We found another free walking tour on the history of San Pedro so did that in the afternoon. A couple of interesting facts for you all:

    All of the houses in San Pedro are made from adobe.

    Dancing is prohibited and pubs / restaurants can get fined if the police catch people dancing in them - crazy!
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  • Day45

    We awoke to the bluest sky I think we have ever seen. There wasn't a single cloud in the sky.

    For breakfast the lady that owns the hostel made us fresh scrambled eggs which were delicious. We absolutely love this hostel (Casa de Mathilde). It's really chilled and our roommates have been great.

    After breakfast we set off on a 3km walk to Pukará de Quito, the ruins of a 12th century fort. Pretty much the whole way there we were accompanied by 2 dogs which were very sweet. When we arrived we hiked to the top and you could see down over San Pedro which was great. It also once again reinforced how small this place is. On our way back, we stopped in the main street and mooched around the shops.

    Despite its size, San Pedro is full of tour companies. It makes choosing a company to do your tours with extremely difficult. We have decided to do the Salt Flats tour from here and then finish in Uyuni, Bolivia. It's a little more expensive than booking it in Uyuni but if you factor in the bus that you would have to get to Uyuni anyway it works out pretty much the same. Simons good friend David who has been amazing at giving us tips as him and his girlfriend Julia have done pretty much the same trip but 3 months ahead of us, also warned us that the bus journey was horrible and that he had to pee so bad he nearly peed on himself as they hardly let you off the bus. Needless to say we didn't really fancy that so after some trip advisor research we settled on Lithium and booked all of our tours with them.

    Craving some home comforts, we attempted to make baked beans and mash for dinner. We were shocked when what we created was actually edible and resembled baked beans. Simon also found giant chicken nuggets in one of the mini-markets. I think the other British people in the hostel were secretly jealous of our 6 year olds dinner!
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  • Day58

    Crossing into Chile over the andes, we reached an altitude of 4700 meters. Except for mild shortness of breath, or a bit of lung burning when I tried a sprint thankfully it didn't have any other affects.

    As we ascended up the windy road the landscapes kept changing. From mountainous valleys above the clouds, to salt flats stretching on for miles. Arrid land with cacti and llamas turned into Volcanos and the desert.

    We stopped at the last town in Argentina for lunch supplies next to a playground. Izzy, James, John and Sheila had fun in the kids playground trying the see saw and slides. Starting back on the road we put on a Singing in the shower playlist and sang our hearts out.

    We arrived in San Pedro de Atacama mid afternoon and it was a bustling little town. Our hostel was on the main street and we had a room to ourselves for the first time since Santiago. Heading out the main street was full of little artesan shops, tour operators and little restraunts. After some shopping around we booked onto a stargazing tour for the evening.

    Hungry we had been advised by Lou the tourguide that the minimarket by our hostel made great empanadas. We were all starving so ordered four each. Something shouldnhave twigged when they bought out three crates for us to carry the empanadas back tobthe hostel. In Argentina empanadas are small... not so in the desert. Out came 16 giant pies. We fell about laughing which oerplexed the owner. Paying for our empanadas we had supper, lunch and supper again sorted for the next few days!!

    At nine we were loaded onto a bus and headed out into the desert. As we stepped out an amazing site awaited, the stars were out, more than I'd ever seen. The milky way was a clear streak in the sky and thousands upon thousands of stars twinkled away.

    Our first guide talked to us about how thwle local tribes of the area see the sky. The southern cross is called a Cucharra and is the house which holds the whole universe. Its four starts represent stages of life, the first pregnancy, represented by a snake and water. The second middle age, represented by a Puma strong and wise. The third old age, represented by a Condor and the fourth star being the connection between life and death. The four starts also represented pillars of life being do good, reciprocity, to be a leader and minga. Underneath lay the dark serpent which coils underneath the milky way.

    They called the milky way the river of souls and in November when the milky way touches the mountains they celebrate the day of the dead.

    Our second guide way an Astronomer, he talked us through star formation and death, how far the planets were away and pointed outbthe different consilations, including the llama! We were able to look through telescopes at Jupiter, Saturn, the orion nebula and a cluster of stars. By the end of the night we had seen at least five shooting stars. Arriving back at the hostel after midnight we'd had a night to remember in the desert
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  • Day45

    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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  • Day47

    Breakfast today did not involve pancakes. It did involve some delicious homemade carrot cake but it was only that and cereal on offer. I definitely didn't get my usual breakfast fill this morning!

    Tomorrow we head out on a 3 day / 2 night Salt Flat Tour which will ultimately take us to Uyuni, Bolivia. The tour operator gave us a list of things that we needed to bring with us so as our Valle de la Luna tour wasn't until 3pm, we went shopping.

    Our list included:

    - Toilet paper (for wild wees)
    - Snacks (always very important)
    - 6L water
    - Some Bolivianos for entry to the parks and hot showers (yes you have to pay extra for that)
    - Props for perspective shots on the Salt Flats
    - A very special sun hat for Simon

    We were very sad to discover that the giant empanada shop was closed today so we had to purchase our daily empanada from somewhere else and it was very disappointing and tiny. So much so that Simon had to go back and buy a second one, whilst I opted for some ice cream.

    At 3pm, we headed off on our Valle de la Luna tour which means Valley of the Moon. Surprisingly enough it gets its name as it looks very similar to the surface of the moon.

    Our first stop was called Cavernas de sal and involved crawling through the rock (literally crawling at some points using the light on our phones to see where we were going) to learn about the rock and how it changes when it's exposed to the elements. There was a lot of salt in the cave.

    Our second stop was the Tres Marias (Three Mary's). As I am kindly demonstrating for you in the photo, you can see how they get there name. You may notice that there are now only 2 Marias as the first Maria had a tragic accident 7 years ago.

    Our third stop was called Mirador de Cari and involved some serious climbing up on to a ridge where you can see over the valley and the Andes mountains. The climb down was a little bit hairy!

    Once we got back down it wasn't long until the sun would be setting so we headed off to a spot just outside the park where we could watch the sunset and get a nice view over the whole valley. We were hoping to get a cool go pro shot of the sun going down but the sun went down so unbelievably quickly that we didn't even get chance to get the go pro out of the bag!
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  • Day59

    A lesiurley morning started with breakfast and good coffee at last at Roots Cafe. A reggae themed place with a wall of famous people to puzzle over. Back in the hostel we gorged on wifi to upload photos and update blogs. Life admin done we walked along the main street popping into the souvenir shops to get the best deal. I bought a colourful scarf, bag and purse. I'll have to wait until Bolivia for my Mate cup.

    Mid afternoon we joined a tour to moon valley guided by a lovely local called Miriam. She already wore a scarf securely round her neck and warned of sandstorms on our trip.

    Moon valley is so called because it's so dry that it shares the same conditions as the surface of the moon. It looked more like the surface of Mars with red rock caked in salt crystals. We battled 70km winds and a sandstorm to climb the ridges for the panoramic view. A great sand dune lay on one side, while red rock ridges rose up either side. We had a pit stop at a rock formation called the three Marys by a Belgian priest. I was more impressed by the rock next to it that loked like a dinasour head! Passed the "amphitheatre" and made our way to the caves hewn out by the wind.

    Putting our head torches on we wove our way through rock corridors before entering the cave. Slip and slidding, crouching and climbing we made our way through and came back out into the light to another panoramic view of red rock towers.

    In the same bus was a group from a rival tour group that tested our patience. Thank god they weren't on our tour as I may have left. Talking loudly that they were missing a football game, they were ignoring the amazing landscape around them. The only point in which they became animated was when pulling moonies in moon valley 🙈. It might sound mean but some people are tourists with a capital T.

    Back on the bus we continued in to Coyote rock, this is where we had the stargazing tour the night before. In daylight we could see that we were on a high cliff. As the sun set in the distance the rocks turned into deeper shade of reds. Leaving Chile tomorrow we cross the altiplano to Bolivia.
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  • Day72

    I have heard so many good things about San Pedro so I was so excited to come here. Before heading there I made another quick stop off in Santiago, to visit Robyn again as it was her 21st birthday party. We went on a night out in Las Condes which was really fun and I was prett hungover the next day for my flight to Calama.

    The flight there even was so cool as the views over the mountains were amazing. When we got to Calama there were mini buses to take us to San Pedro. The whole journey spent looking out of the window as this place makes you feel like you've just landed on the moon. I've never seen anything like it.

    The next day I booked a tour to the salt lagoons. There are 7 lagoons which you drive to and 2 you can swim in. Although it was cold, swimming in them was so fun as you only float - there is more salt in the lakes than the Red Sea! After we went to watch the sunset at a viewpoint overlooking the moon valley. That night I also did the astronomy tour. You go out into the desert and away from all the light pollution and can see the stars. We were explained the constellations and also able to see the moon, Saturn, Jupiter and over star clusters really clearly. This was one of my favourite parts of my stay in San Pedro because I've never really done anything like that before.

    On my last day in San Pedro and Chile as a whole, I went on a tour to see Valle de la Luna, 'the moon valley'. It was so much fun because I met an English girl named Holly and we got on really well. The first part of the tour was caving which was cool. You can really understand why it is called the moon valley because there are rock craters and sand dunes everywhere. At the end of the tour we went to watch the sunset over the valley which was perfect for photos. The sky turns an amazing red colour and the mountains turn purple. In the evening we out for pizza but we were so delirious from being out in the sun all day and kept forgetting what we were talking about.

    The next day I'm headed off on the Salar de Uyuni tour which marks the end of my travels in Chile 🇨🇱. Chile is an awesome place with some of the most breathtaking, out of this world landscapes I've ever seen. I'll be leaving in behind for Bolivia which I've heard a lot about and can't wait to explore.
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  • Day53

    On my 2nd day I got up at 4am to go to Geysers del Tatio, a nature spectacel that is unique in Chile and Bolivia. Underground water get in touch with hot vulcano stone that makes the water boil and explode. Freezing cold but a great experience. After a nice breakfast during the sunrise we were able to go for dip in the hotsprings.

  • Day36

    First day in San Pedro de Atacama. I woke up and there was a cat on the bed! I guess they'll do anything to get warmth.
    Pack and I decide to go to Valle de Luna through a tour - 10,000 peso for half day tour which isn't too bad. Guide Jorge was pretty cool and he's done quite a lot of mountaineering in the past including aconcagua. Really cool place but I think there are too many tourists.
    At night we go out and I have pasta and ice cream.Read more

  • Day37

    In the morning Pack, Stella and I head off to organise the tour to Uyuni.
    In the afternoon paco and I rent a bike and head off to valle de Catarpe. It was a tranquil ride, riding along the valley with a beautiful contrast between the orange rocks and the blue sky. We ride uphill for about half an hr to get to the tunnel. On the other side we are greeted with the view of the desert. It is absolutely quiet, no sound of wind, birds, insects - dead silence which is very unusual coming from australia.
    After the tunnel, we head off further north where we cross a few creeks. Although I did manage to cycle all the way, my shoes were drenched! Not too good given I'm starting the uyuni tour tomorrow!
    This was a beautiful ride. Not many people and free to do whatever.
    At night time I do the stargazing tour - something that I had looked forward to as part of this south America tour. However my expectation may have been a tad high and it wasn't as impressive as I had expected, nonetheless it was beautiful and the most starts I've ever seen. We split into 3 groups of which one was a general lecture on the stars and space, second about constellations (this was like a planetarium in natuee) and thirdly looking at various things through a telescope including Sirius the brightest star (looked like a diamond!), clusters and Jupiter which we could clearly see the 4 moons and the stripes on the planet.
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Provincia de El Loa

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