Friday, 11 May 2007

Another planet

San Pedro is one of those backpacker paradises. It just really exists to serve the passing tourists, so is full of hostels, hotels, restaurants and tour agencies. I had heard of a reconmmended agency and checked them out. All agencies run the same or similar tours so it's difficult to pick one, but the recommended one started it's tour to the two lakes under the high volcanoes earlier than others and returned later than others. So I signed up with them.

At 7.30 us gringos set out first to the Salar De Atacama, the largest in Chile. This Salar is not pure white like many others but a dirty brown colour, owing to the various mierals contained in it. Within the salar are brine lakes which attract many birds, including three types of flamingo, and as below matelots.

We had a hearty breakfast after looking out at the birds and changing morning light before heading off towards the high volcanoes to the east of the salar. First stop was Socaire with it pretty little Andino church.

Climbing higher and higher, up to well over 4000m we reached the twin Lagunas
Miscanti and Miñeques, sheltering under there respective volkcanic cones. The waters were deep blue and surrounded by salt crusted shores

Returning down to the salar, after walking around the lakes and taking a very chilly windy outdoor lunch, we stopped at the point on an old Incan road where the tropic of capricorn is marked.

Our guide decided it would be right for us to wait for the red sunset over the line of volcanoes. We were back in San Pedro even later than planned. A very good agency indeed, and a beautiful day in some very different scenery.