To arrive in Chile from Bolivia was just a totally different experience – From feeling like a dust ball on windy dirt roads we crossed the Bolivian border and within 20 mins we hit tarmac roads (roll on smooth travel). I thought Chile very much more in line with a first world country with shopping malls and petrol stations with toilets. (Very exciting as I was starting to get tired of hiding behind bushes on long journeys.)
Our first destination was San Pedro de Atacama, which is situated north of Chile in the Atacama desert. It was extremely hot and probably reached 40 degrees some days. It had a great vibe with lots of wine bars that we could sample some great Chilean wine. It was here that I visited my second moon valley, based in the desert it pretty much looks like the moon with odd craters and markings. I spent the afternoon exploring and staying for the sunset at the valley which was absolutely beautiful. I had to climb to the top of the sand dune where the wind whipped the sand around but the effort was well worth it!
In the evening I visited the local observatory to see some stars and being my lucky day I even got to see Planet Mars. Atacama is known as the best place to see that stars and I must admit I have never seen so many stars in the sky at one time it was just beautiful (I also enjoyed the hot chocolate at 2am after standing out in the cold).
Before leaving this real quirky town I made sure I visited the local pool for some cooling down and in preparation of the next two days of travel…The first night we bush camped in the middle of the desert near El Mano de Dieserte and had the most fantastic party under the stars…this has been rightly named on tour as Disco Desert. The second night we camped on the beach at Azucar de Pan after getting the local fisherman to take us in his boat to see the local penguins, sea lions and pelicans.