San Pedro de Atacama, ChileThe Atacama Desert: Dry, rocky and brown.How Dry? In some places it is said to have never rained. No matter what the statistics it is widely believed that this is the driest desert on Earth which is dry enough to cause myself to have constant nose bleeds.How rocky and brown? About [...]
San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
The Atacama Desert: Dry, rocky and brown.
How Dry? In some places it is said to have never rained. No matter what the statistics it is widely believed that this is the driest desert on Earth which is dry enough to cause myself to have constant nose bleeds.
How rocky and brown? About 40,600 sq miles of it according to Wikipedia.
|From San Pedro de Atacama 2011-05|
In this large space of land there is San Pedro de Atacama – as small as the Atacama is large. I left Salta early to grab my seat on the bus and immediately fall back asleep. I woke up a few hours later to a small child puking into the hands of his mother – altitude sickness. The road rises to 4,300 meters at one point and there was a constant stream of people who had similar misfortunes but chose the bus toilet rather than their seat-mates hands. San Pedro itself isn’t exactly at sea level and sits 2,500 meters above sea level.
This is the only stop for me on a quick Atacama visit. I came just to see what one of the driest places on earth was like and after a few days I don’t feel like I really want to see any more. How much time is needed in a dust bowl to get the picture? I don’t know how much more time I can take here as the aridity of the place is causing a real annoyance on my nasal cavity. At night it’s a different story entirely. The temperatures approach near freezing and they’re only buffered by a thin tent wall and a down sleeping bag. I stay warm enough but am lacking sleep from the incalculable number of stray dogs barking at night. No matter which region your in this country has a serious problem with stray dogs. Eventually the dogs settle in for the night just in time for the roosters to start their cue.
The town itself is nothing more than adobe houses perched alongside a watering hole in the middle of the desert. Inside these adobe houses are all things related to tourism – The only industry in town I see. Tourist offices, internet cafe’s and artisan shops fill the main street houses. The offices abound for good reason. A mountainous dry landscape with muddy valleys creates a perfect scene for sunsets and sand boarding. The sky sparkles at night like I’ve never seen it before in a constantly clear sky. And,with Bolivia so close everyone offers three day 4×4 jeep treks to see geysers, lagoons, and the Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia.
|From San Pedro de Atacama 2011-05
Dusty streets and adobe walls summarizes this town adequately.
The Uyuni salt flats were on my ‘To-do’ list so I’ve decided to book it from here and high-tail it up to Bolivia which should provide the change of pace and cultural difference that I’m looking for. I’m about to leave Chile for the third time and once again I can’t wait to get out. While some parts of this country I have genuinely enjoyed it this country just has a knack for rubbing me the wrong way. Three strikes and I’m outta here.
Photos of San Pedro and the Atacama
About the Author: Sam Langley
Sam Langley left a comfortable and profitable job with an insurance company in the USA to travel the world. He has been going for years, and has not stopped yet. Keep up with his travels on his blog at Cubicle Ditcher. Sam Langley has written 147 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.
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