Update at April 2013
We had an absolutely amazing time on the Pachamama Bus as our blog entry confirms. As far as I can tell things are much the same as they were in 2011.
After a few days relaxing in sunny Santiago, which gave me a chance to recover from the bed bug trauma, we jumped on the “Pachamama” bus on a 6 day tour that would take us north up the coast of Chile, then across the Atacama desert and onto our final destination the little town of San Pedro de Atacama near the Bolivian border. It’s the first time we’ve done a longer tour like this and we had a great time. Our fellow tour mates were from Britain, New Zealand, Gemany, Hungary, France and Oz and ranged in age from 19 to 66 years. The age spectrum was more weighted towards the lower end, making us one of the “oldies” but age is just a number and it wasn’t going to stop us having fun. Here is our Pachamama journey…..
(The beach at Pichidangui)
On our first day we headed to the city of La Serena, stopping on the way at the small fishing village of Pichidangui for a walk on the beach and lunch.
(Going for a paddle at La Serena)
On our second day we started early and made our way to Punta de Choros for a guided boat tour to see sea lions, penguins and bottle nose dolphins in the National Reserve Pinguino de Humboldt.
Then we pressed onto Bahia Inglesa, a tiny settlement which is packed with Chilean holiday makers in the high season. We stayed here for 2 nights.
(Our beach bungalow at Bahia Inglesa)
On day 3 we made the short trip to the nearby town of Caldera for yet more yummy empanadas before returning to Bahia Inglesa to sunbathe on the beach and enjoy an evening bbq, where Mark may have got a little drunk….
(Can you spot our responsible looking tour guide?!?!?!)
(Taken shortly before Mark was persuaded that it really was time to stop drinking and go to bed. It took some effort!)
It was one long journey to Antofagasta for Mark the next day and despite being the second oldest on the bus he threw up out of the window! He tried in vain to blame the altitude.
On the way to Antofagasta we stopped at an abandoned cemetery which once served a huge nitrate operation. It now lies alone in the desert as the mining ceased 160 years ago. The desert hasn’t recorded rainfall in over 50 years and because of the lack of moisture the cemetery and its occupants are extremely well preserved. Mark sat this one out and slept in the bus.
Mark was later persuaded to stagger from the van and received a big hand for doing so…..
(Mano del Desierto created by artist Mario Irarrazabal in 1992)
(La Portada cliffs at Antofagasta)
Day 5 was probably the best day of the tour. First we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn……
…before reaching the Train Graveyard at Baquedano which was apparently used in the filming of the last James Bond movie. Again the lack of humidity has preserved the trains.
(Special effects by Lucasfilm)
Then we moved onto the Atacama Salt Flats, the largest in Chile…
(the road itself is made of salt, and note the impressive volcanoes of Los Andes in the background)
(pocket sized me)
Then we visited the Natural Reserve Los Flamencos where we saw Flamingos and a gorgeous sunset.
We arrived at San Pedro de Atacama at the end of Day 5 and on our final day we spent the late afternoon and evening at Moon Valley. Here we visited the Salt Caves, sat on a small hill and witnessed another amazing sunset.
(after more than 4 months our tans are finally improving)