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San Pedro de Atacama

Sunset over Church of San Pedro de Atacama
Departing Arica for Antofagasta at 8 AM, we had tickets for a 13 hours bus trip.  Unfortunately, road construction, inspection stops, and engine overheating issues caused delays. And, it was further delayed when the bus stopped running at all, due to said problems, and we waited by the side of the highway for another bus to be dispatched.  We arrived 4 hours late and very hungry.  The fruit which had been packed for our travels was confiscated at the first produce inspection stop.  Not realizing this was even a possible issue, the only other food we had packed was a few nuts.  The lunch served on the bus was questionable so Alan passed on that opportunity, and it was full of gluten, so not something I could eat either.  Luckily, our hotel in Antofagasta had a selection of foods for sale from their pantry, even gluten free options, so we were able to eat on our arrival around 1 AM.

The following morning we headed to the airport, picked up our rental vehicle, a red Toyota pickup truck, and drove out to San Pedro de Atacama through a heavy copper mining district.  Chile is the largest producer of copper in the world, with roughly 20% of the country's GDP coming from this mineral.

San Pedro is a popular destination for sports enthusiast, and it seemed that 90% of the tourists around the village were under 30.  Hiking, mountain biking, sand-boarding are just a few of the activities available.  Tour businesses occupy roughly every 3rd or 4th store front in town, so finding transportation and a guide to the local attractions is not a problem.  Since we had a vehicle, which was appropriate for even the off road areas we wanted to see, we headed out on our own to explore.  Over the next 3 days, we discovered spectacular, other-worldly beauty.  Star gazing is also a popular activity here, due to the lack of light pollution and the arid climate.  In fact, the world's largest astronomical telescope is located 31 miles outside San Pedro at 16,000 feet.  But with overnight temperatures in the teens during our visit and lack of sufficiently warm clothes, we bypassed the opportunity to check that out.  It was too cold to stand outside our bungalow at 7900 feet, much less travel to a destination twice that high.

Flying next to Santiago, we spent 2 days in the Barrio Lastarria neighborhood, where we had stayed last year.  Outstanding restaurants make this area a popular destination while in the city, so why not stay there?  Now time to head back home, for a little while at least.
Lagunas Miscanti y Miniques
Click on the pictures to enlarge.
Valley of Death
Sunset in San Pedro
Valley of the Moon
Lagunas Miscanti y Miniques
Valley of the Moon
Valley of the Moon
Sand dunes we did not slide down.
Valley of the Moon
Valley of the Moon
Our desert bungalow in San Pedro
Valley of the Moon
Valley of the Moon
Geoglyph on the drive to San Pedro
Valley of Death

Salar de Talar- this area has ethereal beauty, which takes your breath away
Salar de Talar
Salar de Talar
Vacuna munching on some ice in a field
Driving out to Salar de Talar, gorgeous


Atacama salt flats
Lake across from the salt flats
Laguna Chaxa with flamingoes

Laguna Chaxa with 3 varieties of flamingoes
Laguna Chaxa

Piscinas de Litio  There are 2 of these, deep-water pools strangely in the middle of the desert
Wild donkeys spotted off road
Valley of Death
A tiny portion of the copper mining activity


Waiting for our replacement bus.  Alan breaking out a box of wine (only the best) for an evening cocktail.

Plaza de Armas in Santiago



Snow-capped mountains surrounding Santiago on this rainy, overcast day


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