San Pedro de Atacama
36 degrees and it will be even hotter!
San Pedro is a small town in the middle of the Atacama Desert and it is at 2.450 meters. The place is small, dusty and it is teeming with tourists. The annual 50.000 desert tourists from around the world flock to the Atacama Desert which is one of the driest and loneliest landscapes on earth. It is about 15 million years old and there are regions where no rain was recorded for decades.
„Who lives, sees much. Who travels, sees more!“
After it was quite fresh on the Uyuni tour, we thought at the first step out of the bus in San Pedro: „Wow, it’s hot here!“ The climate is very dry compared to the previous days and the sun shines like crazy. Not the best conditions if you didn’t book or reserve a hostel. Since we did not want to be mistaken as crazy with our backpacks through the area, we sat in a café at Plaza de Armas and searched for a potential accommodation.
Itchy Feet Insider: From the Cafe we saw that about 50 tourists were standing in front of the nearest ATM. As we learned later the ATMs are empty at the weekend mostly and will be replenished on Monday. So who needs money is pretty screwed. Luckily we had a first flywheel cash with.
When scouring the chosen hostels we got a first impression of the small village. Everywhere there are cute little shops, cafes and restaurants. However, if you look at the prices, you lose the motivation for shopping. After having looked for a long time we found the Tatai’s our accommodation for the next few days. Here you can avoid the whole tourist-bustle and relax. Just because it is not located in the city center, there is a small fruit and vegetable market, a cheap supermarket and the butcher where we bought our grilled meat for the following evening. In the evening Andi and the German-Norwegian Alex fired the grill.
The core of the devil
A great way to explore the area is the quite favorable lending of mountain bikes. On them we started the next day to the „Quebrada del Diablo“. This canyon is located about eight kilometers outside of San Pedro and winds through the desert several kilometers in a narrow road. Here we met „Amigo“, a very thirsty dog who stayed with us after we had given him half a liter of water from our bottle. After exploring this impressive canyons we conducted Amigo to the nearby river and went afterwards to a VW T2-Bully-Café and indulged ourselves a refreshing smoothie.
Itchy Feet Insider: In the evening, we followed a tip from the hostel and went to the „barracks“ north of the city center for dinner. Here you can get an excellent meal with side dishes and drinks for very little money. Compared to the more than overpriced restaurants downtown you pay just under a third here and you will be served with a smile.
Once Mars and back
The „Valley de la Luna“ is located in the southwest of about 16 kilometers from San Pedro and it feels like during a brief visit to Mars. Actually the valley is called Luna, the moon, but we have no idea who came up with the idea. The reddish rock is sharp, brusque and dismissive and merges with the large sand dunes to an unreal environment.
We started together with the rented bikes with Alex, his girlfriend and Manuela and Debbie for a sunset trip. We were very happy that Debbie arrived a day after us in San Pedro.
Before we cycled up the steep hill into the valley, we made a detour to a small canyon. It begins in a dry river bed and we had to crawl through the caves carved in the stone on all fours. Luckily we had our flashlights, otherwise we would not have done this adventure probably.
Since it began to dawn slowly we went on to our final destination, the big dune rapidly. A lot of tourists are looking for the colorful sunset which is like painted on the stones in the valley here.
What many tourists often forget is that after the sunset they have to drive 16 kilometers back to San Pedro in the dark with the bikes. This is just little fun because the connector leads to a busy truck road and it is shaking when these monsters rush past wild honking. Luckily we were not part of this kind of tourists and could draw attention to ourselves in time.
From the sweltering heat it went to the next extreme and we fought with El Niño and its waters in Salta. From there we made our way to Iguazu.
Salutes from far away,
Tina and Andi from Itchy Feet