A Travellerspoint blog

Day 62 San Pedro de Atacama

sunny 30 °C
View 100 days/ 100 gün on ayca ozer's travel map.

We left La Serena at 18:00 by bus to arrive the next morning in San Pedro de Atacama, small town at the edge of the driest and highest desert in the world. IMG_0212.jpg
Legend has it that, there is not a single living organism for miles on this desert! IMG_8962.jpg
The bus drove thru some amazing hills, along the Pacific Ocean coast, IMG_8961.jpg we saw large waves breaking on high rocks and on yellow sandy beaches.

After 18 hours on the semi cama bus and a couple of lame ass sci-fi movies later, we woke up to the strong morning sun rays, we had arrived in Calama. 90_IMG_8969.jpg During the short break in Calama at 9 o'clock in the morning, we noticed that everybody on the street was wearing sunglasses, because the sun was much stronger than anywhere we had been so far.

One more hour of driving and we arrived in San Pedro. The bus station was so small, the bus had to do a five point maneuver to just to park. We got off the bus, put on our backpacks, and started walking towards our hotel, which seemed to be a ten minute walk from the bus station, we were wrong! After about 2 minutes in to the walk, we were out of breath already, started sweating under the desert sun, and finally it hit us that we were at 2400 meters above sea level!
We walked thru uneven dirt roads of the town, taking breaks at every block almost, to catch our breath. 90_IMG_8974.jpg Finally on the main street filled with tourism agencies, restaurants and pubs we realized, IMG_9308.jpg despite its close proximity to the desert, this was a very lively town. IMG_8996.jpg Flocks of tourists arrive here daily, to experience all that a very special desert can offer. IMG_8994.jpg This ain't your regular desert, this is actually a place so rich in all sorts of activities that, it could be a theme park. 90_IMG_8997.jpg But our main objective here, was to cross the desert in to Bolivia on a 3 day jeep tour, and before heading up to the desert at about 3500 meters above sea level, we had to get adjusted to the altitude, and the best practice is to go on daily tours around the area.

Overwhelmed by the wide variety of daily tours offered by numerous agencies, we started shopping for best deals and best activities.
First thing we book is a star watching tour at a private observatory nearby, where a French-Chilean couple had set up a facility so professional, many countries rent periscopes here and observe the skies online. Needless to say, since there is not much civilization outside San Pedro, skies at night here are as clear as pages of an astronomy book, and for us Northern Hemisphere people, it's upside down!
Our sky-hosts walked us thru the skies, planets, constellations, nebulae, and other space things that include satellites. Yes, satellites, man made devices spinning around the earth at an incredible speed, and there are so many of them up there that, the sky seems to be a junkyard.
The moon rose a bit late so we could actually see it come out beyond the Andes. IMG_8986.jpg Brightest we had ever seen, the Moon moves so fast, telescopes had to be adjusted every 3 minutes to catch up with it. IMG_8988.jpg

Posted by ayca ozer 08:17 Archived in Chile Tagged san sun moon de atacama perdo starwatching

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