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Living the South American Dream

San Pedro de Atacama

CHILE | Sunday, 4 April 2010 | Views [381]

San Pedro was a stop on the trip' at the insistence of friends. It was something of a cultural and colonial heritage point of chile on the border of Bolivia with something of an indigenous presence in the area. It was our first real ecounter with the massive tourism drive in South America. With the main street dominatd by tourism operators and hostels not the mention hundreds of of dogs and their leavings, watch your step!!! In these places it is nigh on impossible to find authentic local cuisine, even when it claims to be so. The dominance of international food is a real turn off especially where pizza and pasta places dominate and menus are written in english (a necessity for the unilingual traveller but a negative for us). That being said we managed to entertain ourselves out of a delightful little hostel on the river (we were in an oasis in the desert). Food wise we found a great place on one of the main roads that did the greatest roast chicken and chips I have ever had and we found cheap and flavourful fare near the bus terminal (a dirt lot) that catered to the drivers and chofers shuttling tourists and foreigners between the tourism capitals. We passed two nights here searching for tickets to our next stop, Uyuni in Bolivia and contemplating which of the natural formations to spend our money on (exorbitantly overpriced and travelling in bumpy, dusty jeeps). In he end we opted for what, at the time, seemed like a real treat. Biking to the cejar lagoons 20kms away. Yeah right, sounds like a logical option, middle of the driest desert on the planet, salt lagoons and kilometers of dirt road.....

To summarise, we got to the salt lakes but it took my culo (ass) three days to recover from the bumpy dirt road, I believe I also came up with a great mastercard advertisement.

Bike hire for two - 40,000 chilean pesos

Water for bike trip - 9,000 chilean pesos

Entrance to cejar lagoon - 10,0000 chilean pesos

Hitchiking back to San Pedro because you can´t be assed riding 20kays back to town - price less.

There are some things in life money cant buy for everything else theres mastercard (incidentally i lost one of my cards in Viña del mar and the second refused to function in Bolivia, a word of advice, go visa.)

The lakes were absolutely incredible...... absolutely incredible. We went swimming in one and floated like in the dead sea, Andres managed to smash his head four times on the same awning by the water side lol. We also saw our first flamingoes and relaxed in the sun before heading back to town. After another 1.5 hours on the bike we made it back to the highway before giving up and flagging down the first 4wd ute we saw. Amazingly the guy stopped on our first try and was remarkably friendly and amiable. Our bikes piled in the back between dump truck tires we carried on into town doing the trip in 10min in stead of three hours :/

To end our stay in Chile we caught an evening bus to Calama. An overpriced frontier and mining town. We stayed the night before a 6am bus to Uyuni in Bolivia. Buses would only travel during the day due to the treacherous conditions and freezing temperatures. The nightmare of this trip deserves a story of its own and will will proceed proximately ;)

BTW as I type this I am catching up on a month of missed documentary so please excuse whatever poor spelling and mispronunciations ensue...

Tags: bike riding the atacama desert

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