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13. April 2006

San Pedro de Atacama

Our busjourney from Arica to Calama was harder than expected. First we had to pass with our bags the custom office? We were a bit surprised, because our busride will not go over any border, but because Arica is a bordertown, it’s mandatory for every bus leaving Arica. After this check our bags were on a pile and we could only hope, that they will be loaded in the right bus. But in front of the boarding door there was a pile of bags as big as the one for the cargo lot and Stephan couldn’t first believe, that the passengers will take all this bags in the bus. But when we left Arica the whole gangway and every little place was filled with bags. We had booked a night bus, but this time not the luxury one, probably this decision stole us a good sleep. Because it was a bus full of locals (we were the only tourists) and nearly everybody was a dealer, we had to leave twice during the night the bus with all our handluggage for a luggagecontrol of smugglegoods. And you can imagine how long this took until all elderly womens and mens had unloaded all their big bags from everywhere in the bus…
This procedure took place at midnight and at four o’clock in the morning. Exhausted we arrived even one hour earlier than planned in Calama. At six o’clock in the morning. Once we really hoped, that the bus will arrive late and exactly this time, it arrived even earlier, and dropped us of in front of a mall. All closed as you can imagine. We ask the next taxidriver we could find and he drove us to a petrolstation out of town, where we could at least escape into a warm place and drink a coffee. We waited there for 3 hours in this little coffeeshop until we could phone to find out, if the coppermine we wanted to visit here, was really closed for the next two days (the taxi driver told us this, but it was the 1st of april 😉 ). We couldn’t reach the office so we decided to take a bus to the city, check in at a hostel and find out directly at the tourist information. Calama has really nothing to offer beside the coppermine. And therefore our decision was quickly made to leave for San Pedo de Atacama, because the mine was really closed. The next day the busdriver was the next surprise. Spiderman drove us to San Pedro, we couldn’t believe our eyes.

We thought, San Pedro was a touristy village like Pucon, but it’s a small little sleepy village during the day. Nearly 80% are touragencies or restaurants.

The first day we took a rest before we started slowly to get to know, what tours you could book. Once again we tried out to ride the horses through the „valle de la muerte“ but this time with bigger horses than in Mongolia. That was fantastic and we were alone in the valley.


Valle de la muerte

Only the next day was less fun to walk, because we couldn’t handle the galopp like our guide and flew around in the saddle but anyway it was worth it and a special experience.
Then all went really fast, the driver we had recommended for our trip to Uyuni left one day earlier than we had planned and so all in a sudden we had a full programm for each day until our departure to Bolivia.
We found a especially good agency with different tours and smaller groups than the bunch of agencies offer (maximum experience) and the boss himself guide most of the tours.
We went to the „laguna seja“ where you have the same conditions than in the dead see

saw the „ojos del salar“

and the highlight of this tour was the southern end of the Salar de Atacama, where a white plane from salt gave us a lot of photosujets.

To end this trip we were offered a aperitive in the middle of nowhere during the sunset 🙂

The next day we booked the normal tour to the Tatio Geysirs, once again our alarmclock rang at 3.15 in the morning during our „holidays“. As well as it was all full of tourists, it was worth the trip even if we had to insist not to leave the Geysirs just as the sun was coming up and enlightend the geysirs.

The other day we had once again a tour with maximum experience booked and enjoyed the special service from Juan Carlos. Instead of visiting the „Valle de la Luna“ like every other tour in the evening with another 300 visitors, we went there before sunrise and were only the five of our tourgroup. Fantastic to see the sunrise tipping the peaks of the mountainrange.

For the next day our start to the 3-day trip to Bolivia and through the Salar the Uyuni was planned and therefore we visited nearly every store in San Pedro to buy snacks for the trip, as we were advised from other travellers who had made the trip that you don’t get enough food througout the trip.

The next day Katja was extremly nervous if we get the guide recommended for our journey because there were three jeeps from the same company leaving for this trip. If we got it you can read soon on this page 😉


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