* We visited San Pedro de Atacama April 6-10, 2015
As soon as we crossed the land border out of Bolivia and into Chile I was a mix of emotions. We were sad to see our travels with Stef and Doug end, but I was not sad to see our time in Bolivia come to a conclusion. Bolivia is a country full of beautiful natural sites, and it was easy on our trip budget, however it wasn’t as easy on the enjoyment scale for me. We braved the dirty cities, the altitude, bouts with Bolivia belly, and the general unfriendliness of the locals. Now we were cruising right back into our comfort zone, back in Chile, where immediately after the Bolivian border the road was freshly paved and the gorgeous landscape completely clear of litter.
The city of San Pedro de Atacama was a great place for us to decompress and take time to plan our next few weeks of travel that would take us towards our final country in South America, Peru. The town is quiet, yet has an upscale hipster artsy vibe, not unlike Santa Fe, New Mexico. The streets are narrow and quaint, lined with adobe buildings, upscale cafes and boutiques. We were able to walk every where in town easily, and were excited to encounter our Chilean favorite foods like Trencito milk chocolate bars and Aji Chileno hot sauce.
- We did a day tour of the Atacama Desert and Moon Valley. The Atacama Desert is known as the driest place on earth, and the terrain has been compared to that of both Mars and the moon. The scenery is dotted with snow-topped volcanos, giant sand dunes, miles of flat sandiness, salt flats and crystallized salt formations. We enjoyed our small shuttle bus tour that took us to a few locations to wander around on short trails, and then ended with a dramatic sunset atop a giant canyon in the Moon Valley.
- We booked a star gazing tour that we heard about from a traveler we met on a boat on Lake Titicaca. She raved about her time with amateur astronomer Jorge Corante, and so we looked him up as soon as we arrived in Atacama. Our time with Jorge was definitely unforgettable. He took us and our small group of 3 other couples to his property outside of town where he had at least 10 telescopes set up, along with chairs, blankets and hot drinks. We spent about an hour sitting in the chairs, in complete darkness, letting our eyes adjust while Jorge gave us a really interesting lecture about the South American sky. By the end of the talk we could see millions of stars in the sky all around us. The Atacama Desert is said to be one of the best places in the world to star gaze because of the little amount of light pollution and the perfect dry air conditions. Some of the most advanced radio telescopes are located not far from where we were on Jorge’s property. We spent a few hours looking through telescopes that Jorge pointed to specific spots in the sky, one of which was Saturn, rings and all. Then as the moon rose on the horizon we all got an incredible view through a special telescope of the giant, almost full moon.
- We met up with AJ, a young backpacker from NYC, who we befriended on our Uyuni jeep tour. It was fun to sit down for dinner and drinks with him, he is such a character and had some fun travel stories to share.
To see the full album of San Pedro de Atacama photos click here.