After visiting Santiago, Valparaiso, and Ancud (Chiloé island), my favorite spot in Chile is definitely the Atacama Desert. Hands down. Glad we saved it for last.
The best tip we got was to rent a car and go wherever you want. Things are spread out, the tours are expensive, and you can’t stop at the side of the road to take pictures on a group excursion. Rent a car in Calama at the airport, drive yourself to San Pedro, and have a much better time this way.
The first day, we headed out to the Salar (salt flats) in the Flamingo National Reserve, through more desert, and out to Piedras Rojas (closed, due to idiot tourists damaging it) and then saw the sunset at Valle de la Luna.
The first day was the best day and absolutely incredible. Words can’t describe it, so here are some pictures!
Leaving town, drive 10 minutes, see a ton of animals at the side of the road. Win!
Flamingo National Reserve.
Driving through the desert and saw a bunch of guanacos.
Piedras Rojas. We couldn’t go down to the water, because some tourists had damaged the area, and it’s closed off now. Great work, people. This is why we can’t have nice things.
The wind there was INSANE, FYI. Hold onto your hats!
Next, we drove out to this really amazing lake and saw groups of guanacos running. Nice!
After dinner in town at the only vegetarian restaurant, Estrella Negra (which has HUGE portions), we went to Valle de la Luna and caught the sunset with a bunch of other people (a bunch!) at Komodor overlooking the desert valley. Incredible.
After resting up for a bit, we drove out into the desert, turned off the main road, and headed for blackness. We shut off the car lights and just stared up at an AMAZING expanse of stars. Without a fancy-pants camera, I don’t have any pictures of it, but it was amazing. I geeked out using the ‘Night Sky’ app on my phone to see what the constellations were.
The most impressive thing, for me, was seeing how different the stars look, having grown up in the Northern Hemisphere. There was no North Star or Big Dipper. Nothing I was used to. It was really, really amazing, though. I’d read that Atacama is one of the best places for stargazing, and it’s absolutely not a lie.
We had 3 more days of amazing experiences, but the first day was the mind-blowing introductory experience. I won’t forget this trip.This entry was posted in Atacama, Chile, South America