Atacama is the driest desert on Earth, measuring 105,000 square meters size. Mainly in Chile and one small part in Peru.
I’ve seen the most magnificent view in Atacama, trying to find its end, which couldn’t be seen as far as eye can see. Literally and figuratively speaking. No photo can picture it and leave you with the same impression you have when you’re actually there. Left most of my grief in Atacama. Found my peace in Atacama. Fulfilled one of my oldest wishes of going to desert in Atacama. Had one of the best meals, I’ve ever had in Atacama.
Center of all tours to Atacama (meaning on only this part of Atacama) is San Pedro de Atacama. Unfortunately, there’s no airport there, so we flew to Calama. After many time spent on googling it became quite clear that there’s no sense taking the shuttle bus to San Pedro. The Internet says every shuttle bus is scheduled according to a flight schedule. Well…not quite… There is a bus from the airport. But from the airport to the center of Calama, where you’re supposed to go to another bus terminal and take a bus to San Perdo – too much logistics – we took a kombi cab! RT was 46000 Chilean Pesos ($70, 60€) for two people. Considering it’s a 100 km journey from the airport it’s not expensive.
Finally, San Pedro it is! My, my, my! What my eyes hadn’t seen yet – dirty road, with no concrete, but, literally – it’s just sand and dust. And somehow we don’t mind, on contrary, what a relief. Like a scene from a western movie. There are some pavements, but they can’t be seen quite well under all the dust. The first thing I got an urge to do was to take off my shoes and run through a dusty road, like I did in the kids’ park when I was little.
Not to me mistaken – accommodation is quite expensive here! There are some luxury villas with swimming pools.
Tourists are walking around with clothes filthy from dust and sweat, but full of happiness with dazzled faces. It’s the primary happiness.
…Talking about food?! One of the best „homemade tasting“ dishes I’ve had was in San Pedro!
We were approaching small restaurant near our accommodation, 4 tables in one room, and a few more in another one. From the room we were seated you could see outside, to a small yard, where an elderly lady was grilling meat. We took a daily menu, for about 4€ ($5). It was a huge bowl of soup with potato, sweet potato, carrot and a large piece of meat in it. One look at your meal and you know you’ll be full before you even finish you soup. And then comes the main course – meat with some side dishes. But before we even started eating, we got some homemade bread with tomato sauce, with some spices I wasn’t able to define. It was delicious!
After that – coffee. Served like this: one jar filled with hot water, can of coffee, can of sugar and one with milk. You make your own coffee. Priceless!
We had about an hour and a half before a trip to Valle de la Muerte (Death Valley), that we’ve previously booked online. Agency team picked us at our address. They were joyful all of the time. We were in a group with people in their 60s, full of life, sharp and humorous.
As we got to the Valle de la Luna and started climbing dunes, the fact of not wearing long trousers seemed quite stupid…
I’ve never seen dunes before! It was remarkable. And lots of the other tourists were running up and down the dunes, like little kids.
Our guide, George, had native ants esters so we heard some very interesting stories and facts, among which was – the name of one Andes peak means „The place where flying saucers take off“. Are we alone?
After that we headed to see stone statues called Tres Marias (Three Marys). Now days there are two and a half Marias, because years back a tourist climbed one and broke it 😦 .
We ate salt from the salt crystals on the ground, went to the caves (would not recommend this to claustrophobic people) and headed to Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) canyon.
The view from the top is something I could never describe with words. So magnificent and calming. When you capture that feeling how small you are and how all the things bothering you aren’t really problems and how all of look at the same sunset and see the same moon. Yes, the sunset was spectacular…
If you’ll planning on visiting: