Desert Time

After 30 hours (give or take an hour) I am now in Chile. This long bus ride was broken up between four different buses and an easy border crossing. Even though it was a long bus ride there are two high points to the rides. First, I did not throw up once on any of the bus rides, nor did I feel sick at all. Obviously, this made the traveling a lot more enjoyable than the ride a few days ago. The other high point is that I am now in the Atacama Desert. This desert is roughly 600 miles long and lies between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. It is the driest non-polar desert in the world.
I was very eager to see part of this desert since I had read up on it. I knew I needed to get to a town called San Pedro de Atacama. Luckily, this proved easy to do by taking a bus to the town. Unfortunately, this small town did not live up to the image I had formed in my mind. I was thinking that this town would look like something from a classic Sergio Leone western film, This was far from what this town looks like. It is true that it is sandy and it is in a desert, but that is about all it has in common with the image I had formed. In reality this town resembles a tourist town rather than anything in a western. Most of the town is set up for tourists, meaning bars, restaurants, shops and a few places to stay. Walking down the main road you can easily forget that you are in a desert town because it looks like so many other tourist towns from all around the world.
It is true that this town is far from what I was hoping for, but that is my fault for watching too many classic western films. When it comes down to it, this town is a somewhat interesting place to walk around and has some good sights to see. You just need to walk past all the tourist stuff to get to it. Here are a few photos from the desert.

 

12 responses to “Desert Time

        • Hi Luigi,
          I am thinking to go there but I am not sure what is the best way, I do not have cat, so are there any buses to take from Cadela or Copiapo?

          • Hi Anna,
            is more easy take a bus from CopiapĆ³ to ChaƱaral and then a taxi (“colectivo” as we say here) from there to the park, we haven’t public transport from ChaƱaral to the park, the cost of the “colectivo” goes from $15.000.- to $30.000.- (USD 25 to 50) cause is not a controlled market, sorry, be patience and don’t pay at the first car who wants to take you to the park, ask first!. In the park we have four camping zones, the cost goes from USD 7 to 12 day/person. Any question you can contact me to jose.gutierrez@conaf.cl see you!!

  1. Tourism is a double edge sword. I hate walking into tourist places, it’s like the place looses its essence, I don’t know if you understand what I mean.

  2. i was in san pedro just before christmas. if you get the chance do the salt flats tour, it truly is amazing

  3. Look up at night. With no light pollution you can see the stars. I mean really see them. Get outside of town and give your eyes 15 minutes to adjust and you will see stars you will never again see in your life. Don’t let your disappointment in the image you created stop you from enjoying what is there and close by. Salar de Atacama, Valle de Muerta, the lagoons, and Tatio Geysers are all worth seeing.

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