Relaxing in the desert

Trip Start Jun 16, 2007
Trip End Nov 13, 2007

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Flag of Chile  ,
Saturday, August 4, 2007

Saturday 4th August 2007 - Friday 10th August 2007

It was a great relief to feel warmth of midday sun on arrival in San Pedro and we were able to peel off a few of our several layers of clothes. 

San Pedro is a small town in the Atacama desert, the driest desert in the world.  It is very touristy, and there are more tourists than locals.  However, was great to see some nice restaurants and bars, and an incredible contrast to our last stop in Bolivia. At night the open air restaurants light bonfires in their courtyards, and you could huddle round with a glass of red wine under the stars. 
02 San Pedro Plaza01 San Pedro de Atacama

Our next stop was to be Salta in North Argentina (waiting til it warms up a bit before heading south in Chile), but no bus seats were available until Friday.  We therefore had 6 days  to relax for a bit (and recover from colds!) and sample a bottle or two of the local Chilean wine. 
Hostel was okay and had a kitchen and great to finally be able to make our own food. 

Desert nights were freezing but we braved it to do a tour of the sky, where a local french astronomer allowed tourists to visit his house in the desert, 9k away from San Pedro, where he explained all about the night sky.  He had several massive telescopes for us to all peer down, and we were even able to take pictures of Jupiter using our own camera through his telescope. Apparently this is one of the best places in the world to view the night sky with 330 clear nights a year, and a lot of open space!  The astronomical explanations were all a bit complicated (we never really understood it at school!) but great to see the stars and Jupiter.
04 Jupiter...honest!

We also hired bikes for an afternoon, but a sand storm prevented us from venturing too far into the desert.
06 The local bus stop!

Next stop Salta, North Argentina.  A 11 hour bus journey up and over the Andes, but this time it is during the day and so we are looking forward to great views. 

Hoping Salta at only 1,500m is warmer (canīt believe even the desert has been cold!), but if not, our next entry might be from Cancun!
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