08/11/2013 - 10/11/2013 40 °C
After a few days spent in the Salar de Uyuni and the desert around, in Bolivia, we ended our 4WD (4x4) tour by crossing the Chilean border to arrive in San Pedro de Atacama. This little oasis village, located in the centre of one of the driest deserts, with its narrow dirt streets and attractive adobe houses, has transformed itself, since the 1990s, into the tourism centre of Chile. Sitting at an altitude of 2400m between the desert and the altiplano, or puna (the high basin connecting the two branches of the cordillera), this has been an important settlement since pre-Hispanic times, originally as a major stop on the trading route connecting the llama herders of these highlands with the fishing communities of the Pacific.
But because of its proximity with Bolivia and Argentina, and the amazing landscapes the desert nearby has to offer, this little town was literally full of Chilean tourists and gringos, and prices for accommodation and food come quite as a shock, overpriced and with poor quality.
But anyway, as I wasn't going to stay too long, I booked in the cheapest place I could find (about 14$ US...) and went to admire the Moon Valley and the sunset in the desert, as well as going to an observatory to look at the stars, the desert being one of the best places to watch them as there are no clouds and very few city lights.
After this, I spent some time struggling with my guidebook trying to establish an itinerary which would take me to Ushuaia by doing some kind of zigzag between Argentina and Chile, whilst seeing the more I could, all that in one month. Basically what I needed to do was to follow the Andes but with looooong bus journeys...