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San Pedro de Atacama


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So, Dave and I arrive in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, on the edge of the driest desert on earth, expecting to catch a bus to Salta, Argentina, the next day.  We were dreaming of Argentine steaks washed down with red wine for dinner the next eve, until we found out that the bus to Salta did not leave until Friday, 3 days away.

So - what to do in a desert town that we had not planned to be in.  It was funny being stuck in a place which was the main destination for so many other tourists there.  On the evening of our second day there, we did the typical tourist bus trip, which entailed spending some time in the ´Valle de Luna´.  The landscape from the viewpoint certainly did look what I imagine the moon to be - though I wondered if it had been named before the 1950s, when we actually found out what the moon looked like.

 The bus driver then dumped us at the top of the hill, so we could walk our way down to the bottom of the valley, to soak up more of the desert-moon atmosphere.  We were then taken to another part of the valley, to see the Three Maries, a rock carved by the desert winds to have three knobbly peaks, hence thought to be praying women.  From the little ladies we walked to a old salt mine, which was really just a cave, and then driven on to climb a rock for a good view of the Ampitheatre, a cliff in the desert. 

The final destination, and probably the main drawcard for the tour, was climbing up another ridge to watch the sunset over the desert.  While this was pretty good, two things made more of an impact for me than the sunset itself.  The first was the silouette of about 1,000 tourists all sitting in a line on the ridge watching the sunset, and the second being how the Andes turned purple just after the sun had gone down.

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More photos can be seen here.

Apart from that trip, we did not do much else in San Pedro besides eat (quiche for breakfast in our favourite cafe every morning) and catch up on internet. The other local sites were salt plains, geysers and hot springs, all of which we had our share of in the Uyuni salt flat trip.

So - on Friday, finally we got to go to the land of steaks and wine.

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