Second stop in Chile was San Pedro de Atacama a tourist hot spot full of thrill seeking adventure junkie gringos with a fair few bare feet and ukuleles thrown in. The bus ride in really had the wow factor before we even got to the town. Crossing desert and the mountain range into San Pedro at sunset set us up for what was an epic stop on our Chile tour. Our hostal was slightly outside the centre (chosen on purpose to get away from ukuleles) and as we walked over the brow of the hill we we greeted with a goosebumpy view which we could also see from a hammock at our hostel.
Wow. Just wow. We checked in to a beautiful hostel and had already booked a tour for the moon valley the next day before we’d put our bags down. There is just so much to do and we only had 5 days! We wandered out to the local restaurant and had a ‘menu del dia’ for dinner and crashed in preparation for a manic week.
We’d tried to give ourselves a bit of time on the first day to look around the town, get some ideas of trips to do and some quotes from different agencies. The whole town literally runs on tourism so there’s touts for agencies and restaurants everywhere each trying to get you to spend your money with them. Food prices were crazy high even for Chile, which is already high, but as we’d found a local outside of town for half the price we didn’t worry too much about having to eat £12 individual pizzas!
We’d barely got into the town when we got drawn into an agency offering volcano hikes of one of the 3 volcanos in the area. As we’d already read the guide book before we got to San Pedro we knew we fancied a volcano climb, it was just choosing which one and when. We met Carlos, one of the most enthusiastic mountain lovers I’ve ever met and we were drawn in to booking a hike up Lascar volcano, 5500m and the only active volcano in the area, in 4 days time! Eeekkk!
Then we headed off to find the horse riding place as the agreement was I’d drag myself up a hill if John rode a pony. We found the office for Atacamahorseadventures.com and found ourselves booking an 8hr full day horse ride the next day! Ouch!
We headed out that evening for our first jaunt of the week. To Valle de Luna, the moon valley. Our guide Diego was infectiously excited about rocks and sand but it made for a really interesting tour where we climbed up through a cave formed from salt rock, some salt sculptures that were worshipped in the past, up and along a huge dune with epic views of The Moon Valley and lastly to the wild coyotes park look out for a picnic and sunset. An incredible introduction to an incredible week.