Away to San Pedro de Atacama

Trip Start Sep 15, 2007
Trip End Dec 13, 2007

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Flag of Chile  ,
Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Holy man, that was some bus ride.  Departed Valparaiso at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday and arrived at my hostel doorstep in San Pedro at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday--26 hours.  The bus was a semi-cama which features a leg rest and near fully reclining seats. One can actually sleep quite well.  The meals I mentioned earlier left something to be desired however.  La desayuno (breakfast) consisted of luke warm tea thickly laced with sugar and something that resembled an oatmeal cookie.  The two snacks were thick dry white buns with a substance sandwiched in the middle and a pop.  No caffeine for 24 hours and rising from sea level to 2800 metres in the last eight hours of the journey helped to bring on a wonderfully massive headache.  A highlight included getting to see 'Nacho Libre' in spanish, not once, but twice!  (Actually it was probably better that way.)  There were other movies too. 

I woke up at about 7 a.m. on the morning of the 26th just as we were about to curve inland from the coast.  We had probably entered the Atacama desert not much longer before.  The remainder of the journey was in the Atacama which should give some idea as to the magnificance of it.  The vistas are stunning.  And nothing, and I mean nothing, grows there.  The highway stretches through a valley between to small ranges of scraggy mini-mountains, more like hills, that appear to have been formed by lava.  All you see is miles and miles of sand and rocks.   

I switch buses at Calama, about 100 km out of San Pedro and home to the world´s largest open pit copper mine.  It's a small city in the middle of nowhere.  Not a place you'd want to visit.  Its bus terminal though, had the greatest concentration of backpackers I've seen yet, anywhere, including a Swede and three Canadians, one from Edmonton and two from Calgary!  An hour and half later we are in San Pedro and it's almost dark and it's cold.  It is strange that these places are so scorching hot during the day and how dramatically the tempurature drops as soon as the sun sets.  Only one cab in town and somebody got it so I decided to make the one k trek to my hostel on foot.   

San Pedro de Atacama is another fantastic place.  An oasis, like an adobe building filled Jasper.  Not a building over a single story in height.  Its mainstreet is filled with tour companies and over priced (by chilean standards) restaurants.  The resto guys do a bit of hustling but for the most part it's pretty chill.  The people that populate the town are very exotic in appearance.  It's safe and reasonably friendly.  Again, I get the dorm room to myself and head to bed early in hopes of beating this headache after a pretty good meal and a couple of beers, and lots of water.
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