We headed out of the EAAF Nature Reserve, and crossed the border into San Pedro de Atacama, Chile on Saturday morning. After a few nights of roughing it in minus temperatures and sleeping bags, we were looking forward to some sun and comfort in the desert!
We spent the first evening star-gazing, going on a tour with a local and using various telescopes to spot out many different constellations. The Milky Way showed up brighter and more vivid than ever. Again, it was something we’ve never done before, and before South America hadn’t been to any places where the stars were so bright and easy to see. The highlight for me was the guide pointing out an object in the sky, and shouting out “Saturn!”. We had a look through the telescope, and sure enough, there Saturn was, with it’s rings in ever so slight movement. It was crazy to see in real life, after having seen so many illustrations and pictures of it in books.
Sunday was another day to relax, and we wandered the streets of it’s town. It’s almost impossible to eat and walk, because as soon as we walked outside with our empanadas in hand, a pack of friendly but very hungry dogs surrounded us, eyeing up the food in our hands! (We finished them back at the hotel in the end!). Although not much to do in the town itself, many people come to the Atacama desert for many different things, including the star-gazing, but also other things like sand boarding, and most popularly visiting the Moon Valley.
This is a tour that takes you just outside the town, to see naturally formed rocks, structures, canyons and other landscapes. It’s famous for various sunset points, along with the famous Moon Valley, where the salt sediments on rocks make the valley to appear as if on the Moon. The caves within the Moon Valley too are famous for it’s winding pathways within. It was another example of how nature works it magic and creates amazing things. The views, as they had been so far in South America, were immense, and we sat at each destination admiring the beauty of the place.
After a few days here, it was time to head to Santiago, the capital of Chile, and our first major ‘western-like’ city since arriving to South America in Lima.