Chile – The Atacama Desert, part two

with 12 Comments

If you have already acquainted yourself with the places from the first part of the Atacama Desert story, then the next great destination are the geysers El Tatio.

tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
The geysers El Tatio are a true test for one’s stamina.

The first challenge are the waking hours, you get up between 3:30 AM and 4:30 AM. That is necessary because the geysers should be reached before sunrise when the geysers erupt and the steam is best observed. The second challenge is…

…the altitude – you reach 4.200-4.300 m, so the best course of action would be to hold your pace and refrain from drinking too many terramotos (terramoto is a popular alcoholic cocktail, its name also means earthquake) the night before. The third challenge are the freezing temperatures early in the morning. Many people admit to never having experienced such cold their entire lives. The truth is, nobody expects 0 °C in the desert and the body has a hard time adjusting. Once you’ve overcome those challenges you are able to feast your eyes on the view, looking like a scene straight out of a movie.

tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile

 

You are more than ready to visit the hot springs. In the water people get to know each other closely, everybody wants to be right in the middle of the hottest water. The moment you come out of the water you run, shake and jump around, till you get dressed. You don’t know yet that after an hour you’ll be wishing for the cold.

 

tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
On the way back we observed llamas, vicuñas and viscachas, the happy residents of this beautiful home.

The road passes through the Machuca village, where several families recently came to the decision to build their homes. It is cut off from the rest of the world, no roads or electricity. Now it flourishes. The ten families living there take turns serving the hungry tourists bread and grilled llama meat.

Let the journey take you to  Chile – The Atacama Desert, part one

 

tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
Look at it run with its head hanging
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile

 

The trip takes about 8 hours. The warm clothes are obligatory in the morning, but they should be easily shedded for the way back during the hottest hours at midday. Each of us paid 28,000 pesos, including breakfast in the field with geysers. Some make gourmet breakfasts with eggs and pancakes, cooked on a geyser. The park entrance fees are paid separately.

Sanboarding is the most obvious activity, when taking into consideration the fact that you are in the desert. Normally, you’d pay for the transport to the nearest dune and equipment. There is a guide who explains the technique of skiing down the sand. When a professional does it, it looks easy but sliding on a board on sand is a hard task, no matter how much grease you smear. Several seconds of sliding should make up for several long minutes of dragging yourself up the hill. Sometimes the descend turns into rolling downhill instead of gracefully sliding on the board.

Something like a sandstorm came about after the first two hours. The millions of sand particles that hit your uncovered skin on the top of a dune really hurt. The ears and mouth soon fill with sand. However, the weather was on our side. Everybody was already exhausted from 3-4 descends when it started to rain. We got out of there fast and avoided finding for ourselves if Valle de la Muerte could literally mean Death Valley.

tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile

tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
The hardest part, the climb
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
Walking on the edge, literally
Let the journey take you to  The beginning of a grand journey
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
The view below
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
A volunteer showed the rest how it is done
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
Several agencies offer sunboarding. Normally it takes 3-4 hours, including the journey and the instructions. You can go in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening at 10 o’clock. We chose the most popular agency and that cost us 15,000 pesos a person. The cost includes a video of your performance on sand.

 

Lastly, Lagunas Altiplánicas and Piedras Rojas remain for us to visit.

Lagunas Altiplánicas and Piedras Rojas are reserves with mountain lagoons, salty and sweet-water lakes, rock formations of volcanic origin and many more creations of nature that are hard to name but easy to photograph and show.

The one-day trip cost us 38,000 pesos including breakfast in front of the Miscanti lagoon and lunch in a traditional restaurant. Again, the entrance fees of the parks are paid separately. That was the most relaxing trip. We didn’t have to perform much physical activity, but the results were amazing. We expect the next best film to be from there!

 

tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile
A staircase of cacti
tips and ideas about trips in the Atacama Desert in Chile

 

Tips for all trips:
1. Most places are protected reserves, parks and environments. It is expected of visitors to clean up after themselves and to stay on the designated paths. Apparently no rowdy Bulgarian has ever been there, because the places were unexpectedly clean and well-preserved.
2. There aren’t toilets in many places. You have to plan in advance when you’ll be needing it and do not miss the opportunity when the guide says: “There are toilets here.”
3. Always carry a lot of water. There are no places to buy it from and drinking from the lagoon is strictly prohibited.
4. Carry warm clothes. Otherwise you’ll be forced to sit on your hands in the bus while people outside are taking photos of 3 types of flamencos.
5. All guided tours are in English or Spanish. Lucky you!
6. The entry fees of the reserves and parks are not included in the prices of the tours. They are paid on site and can vary. There are often discounts for students and Chileans.
7. You could go independently to most places. We have no idea how much it would cost to rent a car or where private cars are welcome.
8. These are all places that you must see in a lifetime. If you are in the area examine all the possibilities and take advantage of them to the fullest. You’ll never forget those memories!

Read more from our trip in South America.

Let the journey take you to  Peru –The Route of the Sun

 

This article was brought to you in English by Marta Petrova.

 

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12 Responses

  1. it really looks so amazing! I only had a couple of days in San Pedro and wasn’t able to go to the geysers! I definately need to go back for sure!

  2. What a cool place! So much natural beauty!

  3. fittwotravel
    | Reply

    The geysers at sunrise look so pretty! We haven’t been to this area yet, but looks amazing! Great photos!

  4. couplertw
    | Reply

    You have some beautiful photos! Atacama is on the top of my list, I hope to go there next year 🙂 It’s such an extreme place

  5. Kaila Yu
    | Reply

    That’s so amazing that geysers can cook your breakfast, what’d you make?

    • Bistra Yakimova
      | Reply

      Most of the people cook eggs- it’s easy and you don’t need kitchen stuff… 🙂 Plus bread and jam/butter and hot hot tea would make the perfect breakfast on field 🙂

  6. Cristina
    | Reply

    Amazing photos and very useful tips…thank you very much!

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