Day 5 Pica to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

September 27, 2015

This is part of a 5 day/4 night private tour with Mayuru Tours from Arica to San Pedro de Atacama through the Chilean Altiplano. For their complete itinerary click here.

Pica to San Pedro de Atacama-16

Today is a long drive through the desert to our destination in San Pedro de Atacama. The scenery is bleak and doesn’t change much.

The painted geoglyphs that were supposed to open at 9:30AM (Tuesday – Sunday) were still closed at 9:50, not a person in sight.

National Reserve Pampa TamarugalNational Reserve Pampa Tamarugal

We visited the nearby salt flat where you could view the geoglyphs in the distance, and found it more interesting than the geoglyphs. The brown floor, a mixture of dirt and salt crystals, sounds hollow and metallic when tapped.

Even stranger, when you stand quietly you can hear the floor crackling and quaking beneath your feet as it expands in the warmth of the morning sun. Francisco tells us that the layer of dirt and salt is less than a meter thick with possibly borax below it.

We passed through the National Reserve of the Pampa Tamarugal, a few trees in an otherwise bleak desert.

Quillagua

Our next stop was in Quillagua, another oasis town fed by a river and recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the driest place on Earth.

Quillagua

The main attraction is a couple of sink holes that at one time were thought to be caused by meteorites because they had also found dinosaur tracks in the area.

Quillagua

Cemetery in Quillagua

Pica to San Pedro de Atacama-7

Lunch was in a nearby town at a truck stop which resembled an American diner and according to Francisco is one of the few restaurants in the area. The daily menu featured the usual soup and a chicken or fish plate.

Petroglyphs of Clartoco

After lunch our journey concluded with a long drive through desert. Stopped at few minor petroglyphs.

Drive to San Pedro de Atacama

Desert, dust and more desert. One of the driest landscapes on the planet with next to no plant life.

Drive to San Pedro de Atacama

Mine outside of Calama

Outside of Calama we pass by the world’s third largest copper mine. Francisco tells us it is 1k deep, 3K wide.

Drive to San Pedro de Atacama - Calama

Calama is a prosperous mining town on the river.

Drive to San Pedro de Atacama

Finally the landscape becomes more interesting when we reach the Valley of the Moon outside of  San Pedro de Atacama. Snowy peaks in the distance but not the crystal clear skies I was expecting.

Valley de la Luna

Valley de la Luna

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One Response to Day 5 Pica to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

  1. asthaguptaa says:

    Such a stark gorgeous terrain!

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