I can hardly believe it but I am now already in San Pedro de Atacama. My last stop in Chile. My initial plan was to end my time out here and then fly back from Santiago. As I could spend less time in Patagonia though due to the coming winter, I made the new plan of adding Bolivia to my travel plans before going home. And Bolivia has some great, high mountains, so I look forward to it!
But first, I am enjoying life in the out of earth Atacama desert. My base is the little town of San Pedro de Atacama, an oasis in an arid high plateau at 2,400m altitude. I arrive there in the morning around 8.30am, after another night bus. This time I could sleep and after a breakfast in my hostel I take a walk around the town and meet up with Chris and Mim, an Australian couple I already met in a few other spots in Patagonia.
We rent a bike and ride out of town, to the ruins of Quitor (which we are too lazy to visit) and then further on (passing through some rivers) to the Cebrada del Diablo, the Devil’s canyon.
After entering first by bike, we continue by foot so we can explore better and take some pictures.
Then we bike uphill to the “túnel”, not sure what to expect, a real tunnel? The view is just stunning anyway, crystal clear blue sky, red hills, green valley and the backdrop of the high volcanoes. But not used to the altitude and with the sand, we end up pushing our bikes uphill until we find the Túnel, it’s a real tunnel and we push our bikes in the dark to the other side, not as spectacular though. Then it’s time for the nice part, riding our bikes downhill back into town.
I kept my bike for the next day, getting up at 5am and biking in the darkness to a spot recommended by my hostel to see the sunrise. I am way too early but I also wanted to see the sky at night. Unfortunately it’s almost full moon and the starlit sky a bit disappointing (also the observatories are closed around full moon). I cannot quite find the spot but enjoy my time anyway with the slow sunrise above the Valle de la Muerte, the death valley. The view is spectacular, I am above a cliff overlooking the valley below.
When the sun is further up, I am biking downhill into the death valley, making many stops on the way to enjoy the view.
Back into town I take a break at my hostel and then bring my bike back to the rental place. With Chris and Mim, we enquire with an agency about the tours and spontaneously book a tour for the same afternoon to the moon valley, la valle de la luna. I have just an hour to walk back to my hostel a bit outside of town, grab some warm clothes and water and walk to the agency where the bus leaves at 3pm.
We are taken to the end of the valley to the 3 Marias. The guide is doing this tour for the first time and it’s hard to follow his story, very confusing so I give up after a while. It’s still a beautiful place and I will just focus on the nature! After the 3 Marias we stop at a few other viewpoints and hike a bit up the hills. Then we drive out of the valley and up to the viewpoint of the Valle de la Luna to see the sunset. With a small snack and juice we enjoy the sunset and the moon rising, colouring the sky and mountains. When it gets dark we are driven back into town and with another girl, Chris, Mim and I go for a nice dinner in a restaurant, a great ending of a day packed with plenty of beautiful nature!