A Travellerspoint blog

La Panamericana

On the road again.

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Back along the Ruta 5, a long old stretch for Deb. I actually give in a settle down to sleep at one stage, normally I stay awake out of solidarity but I´m feeling a bit off colour having been afflicted with an itchy rash on my legs, arms & torso.
We re-cross the Tropic of Capricorn, heading in the other direction now & keep on keeping on . . .

About 7 hours later we hit our allocated stop point of Tal Tal - selected pretty much just to break the journey. A small fishing village, we lucked upon our preferred option of Hotel Mi Tampi.
We check in with small birdy woman & a more substantial, germanic woman with an iron-grey Heidi hairstyle . . .
Frau Hedi gets sent off for more breakfast ham & I go get Deb and we bring our cases in.

Everything is pristine & v. comfy although Deb later christens Mi Tampi "Sheltered housing for the Born-again"!

Out for a potter about later, town somewhat in need of some investment. We have a meal at the old British Social Club where we both have portions of what must have been a monster lenguado.

Posted by JulesDeb 08:36 Comments (0)

San Pedro De Atacama - El Valle De La Luna

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Back in San Pedro we lunch & discover a new sauce:-

Green Chilli
Olive Oil

- it was delicious so I asked!

We have mini-siesta before we make the short trip to the Valle de La Luna to appreciate the famed sunset. With some thorough instruction from one of the local guides we were hiking up a dune in the steps of many other tourists - it´s a big draw.
Within about 20 mins Deb was feeling a touch height sensitive so we didn´t move on to the slightly higher dune but found a nice spot to settle a short distance from the crowds.
The scenery was spectacular but the sunset must have had a bit of an off day - we´ve seen better on Castelldefels beach . . .

Posted by JulesDeb 08:29 Comments (0)

San Pedro De Atacama - El Tatio Geysers

Part 2 - "and Back Again"

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One final scout around and we begin the return journey - no cross-country this time but we´re not entirely convinced the "main" road is an improvement. Plus, we start to get a glimpse of just what sort of country we were racing through in the dark . . .
We stop briefly at the Puzon Rustico & are treated to the sight of bulky, elderly Germans of both sexes stripping to pop their swimmers on for a dip - we decide to dip elsewhere.
On our way out we spot 2 separate herds of Vicuña. 2 actually gallop across the road a short distance in front of us to re-join their herd. We also spy a bird moving up through the scrub to join 2 others - it looks sort of Grouse-ish but unfortunately I can´t be more specific.
Jolting onward we make a short stop at a green marshy spot by a small river. It´s chock-full of birds and seems really out of place in the landscape.
So does our last stop on the way back to San Pedro, the Baños De Puritama, a series of 8 rocky pools linked by small waterfalls, surrounded by greenery, linked by wooden walkways & filled with water at 33.5 degrees over which dozens of blue dragonflies flutter. Bliss, even though the scurry between pools is a mite nippy!

Posted by JulesDeb 08:27 Comments (0)

San Pedro De Atacama - El Tatio Geysers

Part 1 - "There . . ."

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4.00 comes all too soon and we have a rude awakening, compunded by the lack of hot water. I manage to persuade Deb to take an additional layer but she insists on sticking with her shorts as it isn´t really that cold . . .
I collect our Brown Bag Surprise brekkies and we´re off . . .
Mini-buses wend their way through the village in the dark and there is a stream of ghostly, stumbling figures . . .
On to the road signposted for El Tatio when suddenly at a fork we see the lights of the mini-buses take off down an indistinct but muddy looking track so of course, we follow . . .
It´s pretty much a game of follow the lights & hang on during a 3Hr, jarring, cross-country trip, fording rivers, scrambling over hillocks & spending at least an hour juddering over a surface that seems like reinforced corrugated iron - all the while only able to catch the briefest glimpses of rapidly disappearing tail-lights; sometimes being overtaken, sometimes over-taking; the only constant the amazingly star-studded sky and our rattling teeth.
Finally we see lights in the distance and the sky lightens a smidge.
We pull into a car park, pay our entrance fee & join a bleary-eyed shivering queue for the ladies. It is bitterly cold - Deb´s legs glow palely and I´m sure I can hear her knees knock - could just be the aftermath of the journey though.
After another couple of Kms we reach the geysers but we can see the plumes of steam before we get there. It´s all rather surreal, quite sci-fi with the steam shooting up, gurgling spurts of boiling water, the glug-glug-crack noise; the warmth filtering into the icy air as you get close and the heady aroma of the steam.
After a thorough session of exploration as the sun started to come up, reflecting the surrounding hills in the pools and frozen overflows of the geysers and changing the colours of the surrounding hills we retire to Rosa to thaw out.
We crack open the Brown Bags - Juice, Fruit Pot, "Granola Cookies" (or should I say Muesli Biscuits?) & lots of sweet junk!

Posted by JulesDeb 08:26 Comments (0)

San Pedro De Atacama

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We have a lazy Sunday morning, don´t bother to get up for breakfast and then potter about the village for a bit, browsing sun-hats and then having a real coffee and a juice.
After a while we decide it´s time to have a bit of a look around and stock up on water & head off to the Salar de Atacama salt plains via Toconao. We stop along the way when I spot some Llamas at the side of the road and easily accessible and pop out to do a bit of close-up investigation. We stop again at the Valle De Jere - a lush green stain inn the middle of the wide, arid Altiplano. There´s water gurgling away, fruit growing in abundance (especially Chirimoyas) & Chilean families cooling off in the river and barbecuing their Sunday lunch - Jealous, moi? Onward to the Salt Flats which are bizarre, crusted, salty earth with loads of Flamingoes (and other birds unrecognisable to those of us who missed the twitter gene . . . ) There are magnifiucent views in the direction of Bolivia and the active Lascar volcano which looked, through the binoculars, very much like the photo of its last listed eruption in 2006 - minus the billowing smoke . . .
There´s a stunning sunset on the return trip with beautiful colours on the mountains.
We have a mini adventure on our search for the petrol station & narrowly escape being trapped in the sand on a back road and by the time we´ve grabbed a bite to eat it´s well after 12. We request a packed brekkie - off to El Tatio geysers early in the morning.

Posted by JulesDeb 08:24 Comments (0)

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