Days spent: 4
Days recommended: 3
Where we slept: dorm @ Hostal Lackuntur, hosted by the most long-winded lady ever: Nancy. Our check in / interview lasted something like 1 hour and was entirely in Spanish (which we really don’t master). We were coming from a 22 hours, no toilets journey and Isa needed to wee urgently. I let you imagine her expression… The hostel boasts a relaxing court, a miry swimming pool, and a great wooden kitchen with a stunning view of the Andes.
Also spent one night in a dorm @ the cheaper Hostelling International.. Including toilets without enough room for your legs and crumbling wooden bunk beds which shower you with a mix of dust and wood whenever the person on the upper bed changes position. Lovely when you suffer from asthma!
What we ate: a lot of veggies and fruits from a local market, pollo y papas fritas, more salads (@ reggae Roots), horrendous and stupidly expensive ceviche (@ Aura Andina).
What we drank: fresh juices and Chilean beer.
How we travelled: we took a day and night, 20 hours bus from Santiago. Might seem crazy, but I actually enjoyed this ride. Apart from the jaw dropping sceneries, for the first time in a month, I found the time to make some reflections about the experience and to actually realise what was going on and how lucky we were. Arrived in Calama, you need to travel for another 1.5 hours by bus. Once in San Pedro de Atacama, we joined tours and we were carried around on a small van.
How many km we walked: 29. Mmmm, that’s a bit embarrassing now that I’m checking!
How San Pedro de Atacama affected our wallets: HEAVILY! This was definitely the most expensive place we visited (if you don’t consider a Galapagos return flight)
Issues we encountered: arranging the tours maybe? Renting a car didn’t seem to be an option because of the costs and the risk to find ourselves lost in the middle of nowhere, so we opted for tours. We spent a whole afternoon checking what the agencies were offering and how the prices were, only to come up with the conclusion that there’s no difference whatsoever. They all do the same exact tour, at the same exact time. Eventually we just booked it from our hostel.
Another thing to be aware of: nobody takes cards here. Withdraw some cash (better a lot) before heading here.
Keep also in mind that the thermal excursion is considerable, so bring warm clothes for the early morning excursions. Of course we were not prepared for it and we ended up wearing shorts at 0 °C. Ooops. Thank God Nancy lent us one of her “trendy” jackets…
Last but not least: the smelly feet and venomous shoes of the French backpacker in our dorm. For Christ’s sake what’s wrong with people??
Would we recommend it? O M G YES! Despite the super hot dry weather, the ridiculous concentration of tourists PSM, the stellar prices and quite average food, what we experienced here will be in our memories forever. 2.500 m above sea level, dramatic landscapes everywhere you look, active volcanoes, salt flats, cobalt blue mountain lakes, grazing vicuñas and lunar deserts and rock formations.
Analogue tips: Low ISO films to compensate the bright light in the desert and some high ISO films too to capture the geysers at dawn. Wide angle lens too.
What to do:
- San Pedro de Atacama. The city itself is actually a village made of few dusty roads and a main square, all swarming with loud backpackers, stray dogs and tour agencies. Still nice to have a stroll around in between one tour and the other.
- Valle de la Luna. As the name points out, this moonlike place is pure magic and astonishment. We crawled in between the rugged rocks and the dark tunnels and caverns of the Salt Canyon, sank in the hot sand and hiked along the Gran Crater and ended up watching a pink sunset from the scenic point of La Piedra del Coyote. Throughout all this time, the tour guide, yelled at us for not keeping up with the others and for stopping too many times for pictures. Rude…
[to be continued]
Olympus OM-10, Kodak Pro Image 100 / Lomography Purple 100-400 (35)
Canon EOS 300, Lomography CN 100 (35)
27-28/12/2016, San Pedro de Atacama (Chile)