Over the last week or so we’ve been to the driest place in the world (Atacama desert) and also the highest we’ve ever been (Parque Nacional Lauca – 4750m).
It was a bit of a change going from the wet and windy Rapa Nui to the barren and arid San Pedro de Atacama. The Atacama desert stretches over almost all of northern Chile and, because of a constant high pressure over the sea, it almost never rains. San Pedro is near the Andes and so nearby there are mountains, volcanoes and geothermal areas. It was a bit of whistle stop tour but in three days we’d been to the Valley of the Moon, taken a day tour to Lake/Volcano Miniques, spent a few hours star gazing through a Frenchmen telescopes and seen the El Tatio geyser field. Take a look at the photos!
I’m writing this in Arica, which is the northern-most city in Chile, just back from a 4 day tour to the Parque Nacional Lauca which is in the midst of the altiplano of the Andes. There were 6 of us on the trip, 4 of whom were from Belgium (hi to Inge, Brecht, Marc and Pia). We didn’t go below 3500m the entire trip, with 4750m being the highest point we reached. The scenery is spectacular, with barren basins and salt lakes framed by 6000m + mountains and active volcanoes. Becs wanted to take home a vizcacha (chinchilla that looks just like a rabbit), and we also saw plenty of the camelids – llamas, vicunas, guanacos and alpacas – as well as flamingoes, Andean condors (sorry no photos), woodpeckers and turkey vultures.
Next stop is Peru, where we’re staying for some time in Cusco as well as taking a trip into the Amazon jungle.