Desierto de Atacama II – Chile

Still in the desert… Meanwhile the weather has calmed down and despite some cloudy evenings there hasn’t been any more rain. I went again to the Lagunas Altiplanicas, but this time the Piedras Rojas have been included (when I booked it the first time I thought you could see them with another tour but you can’t – so I had to do the Lagunas again). The tour guides where pretty funny and blasted some Inca folk music (you know, involving lots of pan flutes) and even danced. Pretty happy folks and since I was with 3 Argentinean girls and one Brazilian guy they explained everything in Spanish. The first stop with the flamingos I skipped and read my book instead. An hour later we arrived at the Piedras Rojas (Red Rocks) and I immediately knew it was worth it doing this trip again. It was stunning. One of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Snowy mountains reflecting in milky water. And I had only 45 minutes to enjoy it… But the whole time I was flashed by its beauty.

Afterwards we went to the Lagunas Altiplanicas and – due to recent rain and snowfall – the whole area looked completely different. Everything was covered in snow. All the mountains were white. It wasn’t too bad after all having to go there again and seeing it in those different conditions. A very pretty and wild, remote looking mountain landscape that took away my breath (literally actually, since I tested my running skills in 4500 meter a.s.l. and just made it 100 meters without suffocating. When I arrived at the hostel my laundry had been done (it’s been weeks!) and all of you who had backpacked before for longer know the good feeling to get beck some nice smelling hiking clothes.

For the next day I had booked a trip to the Salar de Tara and the Monjes de la Pakama. The drive took us off the road and just straight through the desert. It is so weird to be at a place where there are no roads. Everything is how nature “made” it, relatively uninfluenced by us humans. I saw a lot of Vicugnas (Andean Lamas), just walking through the middle of nowhere, eating of the small grass bushes. I saw lava bombs, 15 meters high, 10 meters in diameter, that have been thrown here from massive eruptions kilometers away. I saw pretty lakes and mountains, grey and pink vast land (volcanic rocks), stood in a caldera, surrounded by high active volcanoes. I had a cup of wine in 4.800 meters a.s.l. which wasn’t a smart idea since it gave me a bad headache. It has been another great day here in the desert.

After all those busy touring days I took a day off from traveling and sightseeing and just did nothing. Well almost nothing. Went to the yoga class again – this time in Spanish and more advanced. Lots of strengths and flexibility poses where I found out that I am rather inflexible (especially my arms!!!). The trainer was a small Latina, very cute looking but she did make me stretch – no cheating allowed. I also read my book by the pool in the sun and cooked to finish off my pasta before I go to Bolivia.

In the morning of my last day I went out mountain biking again, this time in the Quebrada del Diablo (The Devil’s George). To get there I had to ride on sandy roads and carry my bike through three rivers. It was well worth it. When I got there I went through a very narrow, dried out river bed. Big sandy rocks on both sides, with salt layers crossing through it. I rode through little tunnels and under overhanging rocks until the valley got wider and the rocks less steep. In the end I arrived at a nice view point where people had built big towers of loose stones. The way back was all downhill and therefore much more fun to ride. My first real off road mountain bike experience and I liked it.

After I got back I had lunch, took a shower and…? Did my taxes on Skype together with Ryan. Not as much fun as riding bikes but no matter if I am on a world trip or not, it has to be done.

Tomorrow I am off to Bolivia, my last Chilean Pesos are spent. I am looking back on almost 6 weeks traveling Chile (well, some of it was in Argentina). 6 weeks I was able to spend in a great country, very diverse, very friendly, very beautiful. I really loved it here and will hopefully be back to see everything I had to miss out this time. Mucho gusto, Chile. It was my pleasure. Habe die Ehre!

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