I’m writing this from the barebones accommodation that came with my jeep tour which is goes from San Pedro de Atacama, Chile to via the Andes. All I can say is that today was one of the most eye opening and jaw dropping experiences I’ve had in the last 4.x years of traveling. This place is insane the landscape will inspire and humble you…
We made it to the Bolivian border crossing which was literally a small hut and it was the easiest crossing I’ve done in my life. We hopped into jeeps and started offroading to all sorts of beautiful sites and lagoons. Even hit up a hot spring and saw a geyser along the way. The highest point we made it to was 4930M and the altitude is definitely coming into play.
I was passing out in the jeep and the driver kept nudging me but I believe that is due to a mix of the altitude and all the meds I bought yesterday. Supposedly the air is thinner so sometimes breathing can be difficult; not the best time to cruise through with a chest cold eh? That said, I haven’t noticed anything except narcolepsy so no big deal.
The tour is three days, tomorrow is mainly driving with a few stops and then the final day is the salt flats where people do all those camera tricks and supposedly a sight to see. That said, just being here is a sight to see and for the price of roughly $160US it’s a bargain for 3 full days of activities and two nights along with meals; can’t go wrong! I do recall spending $125 on that lovely 24 hour bus ride from Valparaiso…
This is also one of the more unique things I’ve done in recent memory and very glad to be here despite the bathrooms in this joint. There is a company recommended in Lonely Planet that everyone seems to go with and that’s why it’s more expensive. The whole hook is that supposedly one company had a driver that had been drinking or something like that and this company plays it up that they are safest.
We hit up another place aka next door which was $30 cheaper and the owner basically said everyone is safe and professional. I figured it was the LP effect which gets all the followers into certain spots and then charges them more but I could be wrong. Turns out all the tours take you to the same places and have similar meals so find one with an owner you connect with who offers you a fair price.
The sights are stunning but the accommodation is rough. The bathrooms have no showers, no locks on the doors, no toilet seats, toilet paper or a handle to flush. I mean, we’re in the middle of nowhere and I get it but a little effort on the bathroom front would go a long way, yes? I could go on but I’m using as much of my PC battery as possible to charge my iphone.
In closing, this is one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in a long time. The total trek lasts 3 days and covers 480KM of dirt tracks in endless desert that probably hasn’t changed much at all since the beginning of time. Even crazier is that there are all sorts of flamingos hanging out around here in the salt lagoons; more on that later.