Trip Start Feb 04, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Chile  , Antofagasta Region,
Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pachamama is a backpackers bus group that takes travelers to all the main tourist sites and other sites off the beaten track other tourists don't see around Chile. I got on it from Santiago to San Pedro de Atacama, the North route.

We left Santiago in the morning on a small bus to La Serena heading up the coast. Our bus was a mixture of people from all around the world with Dutch, French, Swiss, Chilean and an Aussie. We all got on along with each other straight away as nearly all of us were pretty young.

On the way to La Serena we stopped in at a little fishing village called Pichidangui where we ate empanadas and walked across the beach that had blackish sand with what looked like gold flakes all through it. Weird. After a few more hours on the bus we got to our first night stop in La Serena, a beach town. We went out for dinner and a drink where we watched local bands play. Then we went clubbing till early in the morning; well some of us did. The Chilean girls there really liked the Aussie accent and tried to teach me to salsa but I was hopeless. Too quick.

The next day we headed to our next stop Bahía Inglesa, another beach town, where we would stay in the camping grounds at the beach. On the way we stopped for a boat tour to the islands of Pinguino de Humboldt reserve. Really nice spot where we saw penguins, dolphins, seals and a heap of sea birds including vultures. Don't know why they were out there.
We spent 2 nights at the camping grounds, chilling at their little beach, exploring the town and having BBQ's.

Our next stop was Antofogasta where we didn't get to till late after a big day on the road heading from the coast to the Atacama desert. We stopped at an abandoned nitrate mine with a creepy old cemetery also stopped at a spot in the desert which is suppose to be the driest spot in the world, hasn't seen rain in 50 years. It was such a hot, baron landscape part of the trip. We all got a good tan out here, even the white as Dutch. We also stopped at the Mano del Desierto (hand of the desert) which was amazing to see massive random sculpture like that in the middle of no where.
The next day we made our way to San Pedro de Atacama. Our first stop on the way there was at Baquedano, an old abandoned train station, which looked liked the workers just stopped mid shift and left about 70 years ago. Pretty cool place.

After another hour on the bus we reached the Salt flats where the road and everything around it is just rock hard salt. It looked like snow, really great site. In the afternoon we went to see the pink flamingos at the salt flats before heading to San Pedro for the night. That night we went to a desert rave party, they just start up anywhere in the town after midnight and you only find out about them on the day. It was a lot of fun, still hopeless at my salsa dancing though
My last day of the tour I went exploring through the town whilst recovering from the night before. The houses in San Pedro were all made of rocks and mud with either Tin or grass roofs. It looked like an ancient town, I loved it. It didn't get dark there till 9pm either. That afternoon we went to a salt Laguna which was so salty that it was impossible to sink and you can just float like a cork. Really relaxing. Then we headed to the valley of the moon where we explored its caves and went to the top of the mountains to watch the sunset and have beers. It was the highlight of the trip for me, I didn't want to leave.

That night I went to another desert rave party and again it was another good night. I spent my last day in San Pedro just relaxing and went to an ancient Inca museum. That night I took an overnight bus to Arica, a surf town at the top of Chile.
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