Atacama Desert, Chile
October 26th, 2017
Libby and just got back from the Atacama Desert and...WOW. The Atacama Desert is the driest non-polar desert in the world. The landscape was incredibly dramatic and we were constanatly amazed by what was in front of us!
We visited the piedras rojas (red rocks) and two small towns - pueblos de Toconao y Socaire. We saw flamingos at the Salar de Atacama Laguna Chaxa and gawked at huge salt flats around us.
On our second day we decided to rent bikes and we biked to Valle de la Luna. It was a BEAUTIFUL ride but nobody warned us it was on a washboard road with sand on the side so it took us a little while to get there...definitely worth it though! We saw sand dunes and salt caves and watched the sun set while looking out over the entire valley and eating our leftovers from dinner the night before. We brought two ziplock containers on this trip and they have really served us well 😊 The bike ride back to town was a little tricky because it was dark but luckily we had our head lamps so we made it back safely!
The next morning we woke up at 4:30am to go see the geysers. A geyser is a hot spring that comes up out of the ground and is sometimes so hot it boils and shoots up steam and water. In order to see the geysers it is best to go early in the morning when they are the most active. Neither of us had seen geysers before so we were both very impressed!
Our previous day biking to Valle de la Luna was a lot of fun but our butts were very sore from the bumpy road! We intended to rest in the afternoon before going stargazing that night, but some friends we met at our hostel were going for a bike ride so we decided to join (our bodies were not too happy about this!). We thought it was going to be a short/smooth 3km ride but it turned out to be a 35km ride through sand dunes, between canyons, and over mountains! It was not at all what we were expecting but we were so happy that we had happened upon the opportunity! The ride back was again in the dark and one of the girls we were with got a flat tire so that made things complicated! When we finally returned to our hostel we got empanadas and ate them with some stray dogs! We were beaming with excitement from our adventure that day. Around 10:00pm we got on a bus and headed out into the desert to an observatory to star gaze. We looked at stars through huge telescopes and then laid on the sand dunes and observed the constellations with our naked eyes.
The next day we were very tired! We took a bus to the airport and then flew back to Santiago. We got into Santiago late and Libby and I have been trying to save money so we decided to sleep in the airport and take a bus to Valpariso the next morning - not the most comfortable night's sleep but we decided it made more sense than paying for a bus and a hostel that night and then another bus in the morning to the bus station where we would catch the bus to Valpariso...we treated ourselves to ice cream the next day since we had saved money on the hostel 😊
Overall our experience in the Atacama Desert was one of our favorite parts of thie trip so far! It was truly amazing...