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San Pedro de Atacama

Written on: Tuesday January 19th, 2010

A journal entry from: South America

December 28th - January 4th 2010

25 hrs after leaving Santiago we reached San Pedro. However the bus was pretty good, so we managed to get some sleep. San Pedro is a very dusty and small oasis town in the Atacama desert, with a cool vibe and lots of tours into the surrounding desert. It is an old town with mostly indigenous people that now attracts many tourists. The buildings are low and made of adobe, blending into the desert. There are many charming restaurants with open fires, mainly catering for tourists.

We managed to find a good hostel for a good price (after a couple of nights in a more expensive hostel, with a smaller room). It had a nice garden with some hammocks and a pool! Although there were a huge amount of things to see and do and tours to go on we decided that we wanted to do two things: horse riding in the desert and visiting the Valle de la Luna.

First we visited the Valle de la Luna with a very good guide called Marco and 3 Chilean guys. We went to Valle de la Martes and then Valle de la Luna. Both of these were spectacular, the first one supposedly resembling the surface of Mars and the other the moon! After sunset at Valle de la Luna Marco took us to a salt crystal cave system that we crawled through for about 20 minutes. This was also fantastic and we had never seen anything like it. We finished the evening at one of the nice restaurants.

The day before New Year´s Eve we booked a table at one of the restaurants which was a good job as they were all extremely busy. We had a wonderful evening as Chileans really seem to celebrate New Year so there was a great atmosphere. We had some champagne followed by a 3 course meal. After dinner the tables were cleared away and the restaurant became a very lively bar with a dancefloor that stayed open until 5am. We saw Marco and the 3 Chilean guys from the tour and had a few drinks and a dance with them. The following day we didn´t leave the hostel......

We had arranged to go horse riding on January 2nd so we had time to recover from New Year. We went on the same 5 hour horse ride tour that Jen and Aldus had done several years ago and it was just as spectacular as they had said. The best bits were riding down huge sand dunes followed by a race galloping through the desert. We also had some beautiful views climbing up the mountain.

We booked an overnight bus to Arica in the very north of Chile, in order to continue our journey to La Paz from there.