San Pedro

Trip Start Apr 02, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Chile  ,
Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Chile is expensive, so prepare to pay. You are forewarned, so thatīs all iīll say about that. We flew from Santiago to Calama which is a copper mining town in Northern Chile. We had booked two seats on a bus to San Pedro through itīs internet site and got to the aforementioned in an hour and a half. Michael had mailed Mama Tierra Hostel just before we left Santiago to say we would be there at 8pm. But, when we were left on a very dark street outside of town ringing the doorbell, we realised no one was home. Thankfully the bus driver had gone into the shop next door for provisions so we asked him could he bring us to the īcentroī. He dropped us at a random place, no room at the inn. But, the lady in charge thought for a minute and said she had an annex one hundred metres down the road. We took the room, it was grand, like sleeping in a prefab, but we were wrecked and were happy with our lot. The next day we toured the town for a Hostel (San Pedro is tiny and completely orientated towards tourists, who outnumber locals in high season). Grechy eventually found a place called Sonchek. Perfecto, clean, reasonably priced (CHP 14000 dbl) and made of wattle and daub!
Thereīs so much to do in the area surrounding San Pedro, itīs somewhat overwhelming to begin with. So, we booked in for Sandboarding after checking into the hostel. We did it with the HI Hostel which was cheaper, there were four of us, two 23 year old English blokes from Oxford and London, who were very posh, very hyper, but good fun. There was lots of falling and sand going places you donīt want it to go, but all in all a really great experience. We went to some salt caves afterwards and climbed to see the sunset. We returned to discover Marcus who we met in Buenos Aires and hung out with in Mendoza had visited our hostel and was staying down the road. He saw our names when he was booking his trip to Bolivia with the same company we were going with, so now weīre all going to travel together.
The following morning we were picked up by a bus to go to the Atacama Salt Flat (Salar de Atacama) and Lakes. We chose Cosmo Tours, but thereīs alot cheaper. Firstly we went to the Flamingo Park. Learned about their near extinction in the area until it became a reserve in 97. Very cool to see them digging for their breakfast at such a close distance. Our own breakfast followed, no algae for us thankfully. The visit to the Miscanti and Mimique lakes almost 4000 metres above sea level involved a bit of a was freezing cold! Had lunch watching a very intrigued Andean Fox which was just waiting for one of us to drop the salami. We visited a valley where the nearest villagers grow fruit. Stopped off in the village of Tocanao, where i nearly got kissed by a lama and bought a pair of wool socks in shock.
The following morning we went for a hike with Marcus. There were old pre-inca ruins in a village near San Pedro, so we walked there. We discovered a cave and the morning turned into something out of an Enid Blyton book. We climbed to the ruins the back way, you pay if you go the other way. Lots of rock climbing and passing a torch to light the way for each other. One of the best things we did and it was free! After a siesta we wrapped up to go star gazing. A french couple (heīs an astronomer) run tours at their house. Making science fun is the best way you could describe it - we learned lots about the galaxy, planets and physics. We finished the night off with their infamous hot chocolate. Well worth doing.  
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