Thursday, 27 May 2010

Week 4 - San Pedro De Atacama (in the Chilean desert), & a breath-taking Bolivian Journey

Hello Everybody! After the disappointment of La Serena I feel I have been more than compensated for with a week or unexpected magic! It´s been the kind of week full of adventure, fun, madness and breathtaking nature that you just dream of on a trip like this. So let me take you on the journey of my week.

It all started out with a crazy coach journey to San Pedro, and after 18 plus hours I arrived in the following scenery...

the bus station looked like nothing more than a small beach bicycle park, and I wandered down the 'road' (sand path). wondering just where the hell I was? The streets were tiny, as was the town, and the buildings looked like they were completely made of sand! Here are some street scenes...

So after wandering for about 20 minutes I saw a hostel international sign that seemed appealing enough to stay! For just 8000 pesos, I was ushered past reception into a dorm room with unusually high three level bunk beds... see below..

I soon realised that I had to make the most of my time here and booked on a tour to go and see the salt flats, and the sunset. Words will fail to describe the following scenes so I won't try to explain the pictures, but I will say that on these day tours, the thing that usually makes it memorable are the people you meet. I was very lucky to meet some very entertaining and funny people - an OT from Holland, an Aussie Physio, an American teacher, and a girl from the Ilse of Man! Together we declared ourselves 'Team Salt', and as you can see from the pictures we enjoyed a brilliant day at the salt water 'lagunas', and watched a quite amazing sunset over the salt flats!

The day only got better as I returned to San Pedro and met Cristina (Canadian engineer) for dinner. She introduced me to a Chilean lady, and a South African couple, who had all met on her tour that day. So here we were, four lots of people from 4 different continents, 4 different walks of life, having dinner, discussing all manner of topics, having just met on that very day! You just can't buy those experiences!

The following day I was supposed to leave for my tour, but I had received a message the previous night to say the border to Bolivia was closed due to bad weather. So I decided that I could not resist the urge to book another day tour, this time for sand boarding and another sunset view, this time from Moon Valley! The group consisted of me, a guy from the USA, a German girl and my hostel room mate from Holland. Our instructor was typically cool, multi-lingual guy with a good sense of humor. He was quick to let us get on with having a go, and here are some photos of the boarding and the following sunset!

We'd had a good laugh, so we decided to meet later for a farewell dinner.. see below!

So onto PART 2 of the adventure. After finally leaving Chile (after locating the piece of paper I received 3 weeks ago with no waring to keep it for when you want to leave the country) my next tour was a 3 day tour of the Salt flats and desert in Bolivia. This next group was made up of myself and three very lovely, and entertaining French folk. Mattiew, Etienne and Sarah. Mattiew's excellent Spanish helped us to understand the driver, which was obviously quite useful! This quite breath taking tour allows you to take a 4x4 jeep through some wild terrain, and includes sights such as, huge salt 'lagunas', stretches of desert, the world's largest salt flats complete with islands, and there is even some wildlife along the way - flamingos, wild rabbit and of course Lamas! I could talk about the bumpy jeep, the seriously cold first night, which led us all to go to bed fully clothed! I could talk about Etienne´s quite bizarre breakfast of coffee powder, milk powder, and sugar on bread, or the quite good selection of food we had along the way. I could even talk about the fun we had at the 'wild west' town, complete with high noon showdown photos... but I'll let the pictures do the talking, because all I can say is, if you ever come to this part of the world, then these are places worth seeing! Quite simply an awesome piece of nature!

This was so difficult to condense these experiences into one blog post, but I hope it gives you a little flavour of life on the road here
Thanks for reading, regards from Bolivia!

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