Desierto de Atacama I – Chile

I am in the desert here with stunning and surreal landscapes. In fact I am based in San Pedro de Atacama, a small oasis town filled with tourists and travel agencies, but still very nice. When the shuttle took me here from the airport I felt really weird. My head hurt and I was dizzy, like being drunk or hungover. I wondered why, until I googled the place and found out it’s located 2500 meters above sea level. And of course I feel the altitude. I am always bad with things like that. The first who gets sea sick, travel sick or like now sick of the altitude. That night I slept bad and had bad nightmares, another symptom of it but ever since then my body go used to it.

The next day I took a tour (the only way to actually do things besides renting a car) to las Lagunas Altiplanicas. It took me up to 4200 meters and to absolute stunning landscapes. Turquoise lakes, green bushes on sandy ground, blue skies and snow topped volcanoes in the background. Very beautiful. I also got to see flamingos at Laguna Chaxa, a lake with great mirror reflections. The tour normally includes another pretty stop but I book the short version and now I have to do it all again to be able to get to the third amazing spot.

After that amazing day I took a yoga class the next morning. It was Hatha Yoga (whatever that means…) and was quite ok, a nice workout, very relaxing too. Only the end was a little to esoteric for me and also I cant get myself to breath out loudly like they did, which sounded like death’s last breath… The afternoon and evening I spent mountain biking in the Vallee de la Luna. Some of the hills have been really steep and sandy but the landscape there is surreal. Lots of red rocky, pointy hills and features topped with white salt. It actually looked like being on the moon in “winter”. Unbelievable… We stayed til sunset and rode back home in he dark (which sucked). Unlike in the valley, where it only rained a tiny bit, there have been heavier showers and thunderstorms in town and the roads were muddy.

I continued to be sporty the next day and went sandboarding down a huge dune. Again, surrounded by crazy desert landscapes. It was great fun. It’s a little different from snowboarding due to increased friction but I got used to it quickly and rode down like a pro in no time… unfortunetaly we had neither lift nor lama so had to walk back up, carrying the board. The tour van played reggaeton music all the time and the only thing missing was some après ski drink in the end. Anyway, good times. The evening I took another sunset tour to some lakes close by (Laguna Cejar and Laguna Tebenquinche – yeah I can never really pronounce any of those names). When we got there it started to pour it down with rain, so I spent the first 30 minutes on the toilet. The showers vanished but it was still too cloudy to see the sun set and especially to see all the nice changing colors of the mountains in the background. Still nice, of course, the sun came out every now and then and the evening ended with Pisco Sour and chips.

Back in town it rained and thundered so much – the roads turned into small streams, my room got flooded and the power was off for quite a while. Just saying, feels more like in the tropics then in a desert, what’s going on? This is meant to be one of the driest places on earth.. Well, not as far as I am concerned. Hello global change! I decided to stay a few days longer, there is quite a lot to see here and for the first time during this trip I don’t have a planned itinerary. I don’t have anywhere else to be and can just stay as long as I want. My hostel is really nice and has a pool, so why not? I like it here….

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