San Pedro de Atacama is the desert, not only that but it’s the driest place on earth (Atacama Desert). It’s dry, it’s dusty and before long your lips are chapped, your nose is full of dust and you begin to realise just how baron the landscape is. The desert itself covers 600 square miles over 4 countries complete with salt lakes & flats, geezers and lots and lots of sand.
To say the sky here is amazing is an understatement. We took a tour to a local observatory and our jaws were pretty much to the ground the whole time. At first we were using a telescope in the observatory dome where we saw the difference between an open and closed cluster of stars. We were then shown a constellation that was 4.5 million light years away, just so your/my brain can comprehend this, it took 4.5 million light years for the light of said stars to travel through space to hit our retinas. Unbelievable.
We saw Mars and Saturn, including the clearly defined rings, through the telescope. We were then shown a galaxy, a galaxy that was 28 MILLION light years away! That’s probably the furthest away group of stars/planets that I will ever see in my life.
We could see the Milky Way with the naked eye, the southern cross and much much more right there in front of us. The sky was indescribable! I took a great photo of the sky which you can see just to the right of this text (yes, the black block, my camera sucks!).
Valle de la Luna
Going to this place on bicycles was a great idea to start with, wonderful flat roads. Then you get to the sandy valley and try and get your bike up and down the hills in the heat of the day and you start to think, “I should of took the tour”.
We took a walk at the first checkpoint through caverns which turned into pitch black caves. We had to crawl through the dust and sand to get back into daylight, we were not prepared for this!
The landscape, although baron, was quite impressive as the sun reflected off the sand turning the whole valley red. Cycling back in the pitch black after the sun had set though was a different type of thrill. This time we were coming down the hills, with only a head torch to light the way it was quite a lot of fun hitting a 90 degree bend at 40KMPH.
I had to play, so we had to stay another day. Guests v Workers, of course the guests won! 8-3.
Laguna Cejar & Drinking Games
We could not of picked a wose day. It was so windy the dust, sand and slat were whiping up into every part of our bodies, and when you are wearing swim shorts to get into the salt lake it’s not pleasant. The salt lake, where you can float without trying, was absolutely freezing! I mean ice cold. So cold Brogan got about 2 toes somewhere near the water and decided it’s not for her.
We saw 2 other lakes while watching the sunset over the mountains, not quite as impressive as at the Valle de la Luna but still quite nice.
After making dinner the drinking games began. We played beer pong (American rules then English rules), flip cup races and then flip the cigarette box (French game apparently). We cleaned off 10 litres of beer, a huge vat of sangria that Abel (Austrailia) had made and then a few glasses of red wine round the fire.
We started to make up our own drinking games on the spot and everyone got quite merry. One of the funniest nights I have had while travelling.
All in all Atacama(aaaaa) was a great stop off, loads to do and if your’e lucky you will meet a group of people like I did.
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