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.
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Most traveled places in Provincia de El Loa:

  • Day26

    Mitten im Nichts, auf knapp 2500 Meter Höhe, gibt es mal wieder eine Oase. Ein kleines Dorf, das aufgrund seiner guten Ausflugsmöglichkeiten zu Vulkanen, Salzwüsten und unwirklich Landschafen zu einem absoluten Touristenort geworden ist. Das merkt man leider auch an den Preisen.
    Interessant war es auch mal wieder zu sehen, wie der Nachthimmel außerhalb der Stadt, ohne Straßenlaternen und Stadtbeleuchtung aussieht. Dazu gab es einen kleinen Ausflug in eines der Zahlreichen Observatorien hier. Und ja, wie man auf dem Bild sehen kann, es wird nachts arschkalt.Read more

  • 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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  • 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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  • Day238

    Downtown desert.

    The Atacama Desert has been top of my list since we left Torres del Paine. It's an unworldy, arid wonderland which offers hugely diverse and unusual scenery and geography. Not only that, it's also the driest and one of the highest deserts in the world. San Pedro is but a tiny blip in this enormous wilderness and has become the undisputable tourism capital of the region - the 'downtown of the desert', if you like.

    The 24 hour bus from Santiago wasn't all bad. It was actually quite comfortable aside from a noisy group of Americans, no food and only getting one stop. Seriously, one stop?! Fortunately we had snacks with us but there's only so much chocolate you can eat before your body starts demanding real food. Our one and only stop was in a seaside town called Antofagasta, (what a name!), 19 hours into the trip. Judging on building height and transport quality it sure felt like a measly mining town. However, this shanty-esque mess is the second biggest city in Chile, believe it or not. A lack of food options and no wifi for the Louis Vuitton final didn't make hangry Richard any less hangry so I had to rely on my beloved ability to sleep anywhere, passing the remainder of the the journey unconscious and uncomplaining.

    I did briefly awaken to panic when one of the passengers discovered his bag has been pinched in Antofagasta. A cheeky blighter had snuck onto the bus while we were stopped and, after failing to pinch somebody else's bag, proceeded to his and left the poor American without his credit cards or electronics. According to the bus drivers, this happens all the time yet they still let ticketless strangers on during a stop (and fail to warn anybody). We had our bags with us this time but I'd be lying if I said I hadn't previously taken that same chance myself. Never again!

    We arrived in the dark to find a very dusty and sleepy San Pedro. The lack of streetlighting combined with the absence of people made us feel a little uneasy as we nervously proceeded down what might be hyperbolically described as an alley fit for murder (daylight would later relieve these nerves). But our signless accommodation turned out to be a lovely homestay - albeit freezing (as with every other hostel in San Pedro) - and we were the only guests to a friendly young couple for our entire stay. Bueno!

    Daylight brought the true San Pedro to shine as well as some much needed warmth. Tour agencies occupied every second building which were more often than not constructed of mud (adobe to be specific) and straw to a surprisingly high standard on occasion. Dust, however was an unavoidable problem lining every uncleaned surface as well as the inside of my throat and lungs. Beer, as you would expect was the best cleaner of the mouth and throat. There's not much to do in San Pedro itself and getting to the natural attractions proved difficult if not impossible without booking a tour. Cat and I were both absolutely gutted that we couldn't get to the Geysers of Tatio due to snow-induced road closures - the first of what would be two disappointing closures. Instead, we managed to hire some quality bikes for one afternoon and visit Valley of the Moon (see next footprint) and we did eventually succumb to the less appealing Thermas de Puritama (hot pools) tour. Said 'tour' was actually just transport but even at an extortionate price it was still cheaper than the next best option (a cab). Don't even think about calling me a wimp for not biking - you try biking through a desert!

    The hot pools were surprisingly natural and consisted of a series of nine pools linked by a river of hot water. The further downstream you went the cooler they became, thanks to the frosty temperatures of the valley in which they lay. By frosty temperatures I mean there was snow on the ground and by hot pools I mean warm pools (max 33°). The icy air and ground made getting from pool to pool somewhat torturous and it's fair to say that neither the Eskimo nor I made it lower than pool five. The atmosphere however was fantastic (waterfalls and all) and full immersion in the water was enough to keep the shivers at bay - just. A thoroughly enjoyable dip at 3500m above sea level if you ask me. Breathing at such altitude was noticeably more difficult to San Pedro and just a taste of what was to come.

    We also managed to solve the mystery as to what on earth 'Rica Rica' is. It had been appearing on menus increasingly often in all kinds of dishes. In my naievity I had assumed it meant 'delicious delicious' based on extrapolation of a single 'Rica' which does indeed mean 'delicious' when used in a food based context. Turns out it's actually a plant with astonishing healing powers (or so the locals say) and - hands down - is the most delicious smelling herbal shrub I have ever encountered. Muy Rica.

    Speaking of muy rica, the Chilean 'menu del dia' has been our number one lunch and dinner choice if we're not cooking or eating on the run. From anywhere between $7 to $16 you can get a starter, bread, main, dessert and a drink (occasionally wine, or if you're really in luck - pisco sours) to wash it down. The choice is usually limited but the quality is always surprisingly good. San Pedro however, delivered a blow below the belt with it's food prices which forced us to have a few very simple meals between splurging on menus. We should have expected it, we are in a desert after all and there's no competition until you hit Calama over 100km away. Duh.

    Our second disappointing, snow-induced road closure was the main road from San Pedro to Uyuni, Bolivia. Part of my desire to visit this place was to witness the amazing colours of the salt lagoons (laguna Colorado in particular) and other stops in the Bolivian Southern Altiplano. Upon inquiring about the three day 4x4 tour to Bolivia, we discovered heavy snow had closed the main route and forced us to take an alternative northern route which by-passed several highlights. I'll be sure to cover that in more detail in an upcoming post!

    Also, findpenguins has just allowed me to caption my images so I'll have to begin the painstaking process of going back and doing so over some 90 odd footprints. Ugh.
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  • Day221

    San Pedro de Atacama was another strange little town in the middle of the desert. Other than in Huacachina the desert was less sandy and more rocky. But also the town was a lot different. Lots of houses were build from the same stone and matched the color of the desert. The floor was often bare so you would walk on dust. But as it was one of the most touristy places around and Chile is definitely more developed and rich than a lot of the other countries it still wasn't really basic. There were lots of nice restaurants and shops around town. My hostel was nice with rooms arranged around an outdoor communal area. I knew I wanted to do a tour to the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia from here so I used my first day strolling around the little town comparing agencies and figuring out what else was there to do here. At night they had a chilean BBQ with lots of meat at the hostel. It was super good and the fire of the BBQ helped a little against the cold that came after the sun went down. The difference between day and night was big here. During the day you could easily walk around in shorts and a shirt but at night you needed a lot of clothes. I went to bed the first night almost immediately after dinner just because I was so cold. The next day I got me a bike to go to Quebrada del Diabolo. I didn't do a lot of research but heard from some people this should be the best site in the desert reachable by bike. The lady in the bike shop told me I would need to cross the river 3 times. As she said it as if this was completely normal I expected the water to be really flat. But when I drove into the water for the first time I got stock halfway and had to push my bike through kneedeep water. In my shoes. After this I realized I should probably take my shoes of from now on.
    The Quebrada del Diabolo were rock formations with lots of small pathways through them. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to take my bike in so when I got to a point where a lot of bikes were lying I decided to also continue by foot. The site was pretty cool. The path would split of in more different paths between the rocks. As I didn't bring my bike I could also go for the ones climbing over rocks. After a while I found a spot on top of a big rock for my lunchbreak. I realized that it was completely quite here. Only surrounded by rocks you couldn't even here the usual sounds of nature like wind blowing through leaves or animals flying or running around. When I started walking back I realized that it might not be the easiest thing to find out as I had randomly chosen the path that looked more interesting. But turned out I could follow back my footsteps as no one had entered after me.
    Cycling back I decided to not put my shoes back on after the first river crossing but just cycle barefoot. This wasn't super comfortable but still nice and freeing.
    At night I did a stargazing tour. They had told me it weren't the best conditions for this tour as you couldn't see to many stars due to the full moon but I decided to do it anyways. And I actually liked it a lot. Especially as we got to watch the moon through the telescope and could see its rough surface with craters and everything. Our guide told us a little about stars and planets but as the tour was in Spanish I didn't understand to much when it got to more complex explanations. He showed us the cross of the south and some other constellations like the scorpion which was interesting as they were completely different to the ones we can see in the northern hemisphere.
    He also pointed out jupiter and saturn to us and we looked at them through the telescope. You could even see the rings around saturn.
    The next day I walked a bit more around town, treated myself to lunch at a nice little cafe and prepared for the tour to Uyuni. As Chile was really a lot more expensive than most other countries I usually had breakfast and dinner at the hostel. The kitchen here was ok and I actually enjoyed cooking for myself again. The only thing cheaper here than anywhere else was wine - even cheaper that beer!
    I met 2 nice French Canadian girls my last night and we talked over dinner and some wine. But when people started going out I went to bed again. I just couldn't be bothered to go out in the cold. But as I had to get up early the next morning for my tour I at least had a proper excuse ;)
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  • Day45

    Na het ontbijt om 05:00, begon de koude tocht in de jeep (de verwarming deed het minimaal) naar de geisers. Een bizar natuurverschijnsel. Vervolgens via het National Park naar de grens met Chili gereden, om daar twee jongens af te zetten die hun reis in Chili gingen vervolgen. Daarna was het voor ons een lange, maar opnieuw prachtige weg terug naar Uyuni. Bizar dat zoveel ' niks' zo mooi kan zijn.

  • Day2

    Ankunft am Morgen nach ca. 1,5 h Busfahrt. Macht auf uns einen irgendwie verschlafen sympathischen ersten Eindruck, und unser Hostel ist sehr schnuckelig gemacht, wie eine rustikale Chillout Lounge mit kleinen gemütlichen Lehmhütten. Am Vormittag machen wir erst mal unser Programm für die nächsten Tage klar und auch unsere Jeeptour nach Bolivien. Zum Mittag gibt's Pizza. Am Nachmittag machen wir nen Ausflug zu ein paar Lagunen, u.a. die Laguna Cejar, in der man wegen des hohen Salzgehalts auftreibt und nicht untergeht. Testen wir natürlich kurz aus, aber arschkalt. Insgesamt ein netter Trip, wenn auch etwas überteuert, wie wohl alles hier.Read more

  • Day30

    Diesen Vormittag ging es zum Sandboarden! 🙈
    Die Dünne war groß, wenige andere Menschen und geiles Wetter (wie hier immer) macht es allein schon zu einem coolem Erlebnis.
    Trotzdem habe ich dafür sicher nicht das aller größte Talent. 😂 Was aber nicht schlimm ist, da es trotzdem lustig war.

    Den restlichen Tag chillen wir, planen noch bisschen für morgen (den letzten Tag gemeinsam 😨) und gehen abends als Abschluss schön essen.Read more

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Provincia de El Loa

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