Whew, I bet I’m just as happy to be finished with the Amazon expedition series as you are. I immensely enjoyed my time in the Amazon, it was as adventurous and educational, but by the end, I was so ready for a bit of civilization starting with a comfortable bed, a shower!
I was struggling to get out of Iquitos, I just couldn’t find a reasonable flight and the internet speed, well, you can’t really classify it as ‘speed’, it was as slow as a snail and unreliable; so bad, it was nearly impossible! I decided to hop on a plane to Lima where I’d then figure out my next move. Hindsight would show me that Lima was going to be the only bit of normal civilization I’d have for a while longer.
Although I wasn’t looking forward to a big city, I thoroughly enjoyed my day and half in Lima. It was spectacular to be in a city with a view of the ocean and mountains. Knowing the layout of the city, now, I was very lucky to have chosen to stay in Miraflores. I don’t think I could have found myself in a better place. Bonus, it ended up being 5 minutes away from the friends I met in Iquitos.
I had just stepped from one world into another. I enjoyed walking around, browsing through bookshops, having a proper cup of tea, a hot shower, a big comfortable bed, running water and even room service, but I couldn’t help but watch all the people shopping, shopping, shopping and wondering if any of them, so close to the Peruvian Rainforest in their own backyard, had an inkling of the ‘other’ life that is so close and so far to them. Did any of them have any connection what so ever? I suspect not, but never judge one by its cover.
My plan was to work my way through Peru over to Cusco and to La Paz crossing the border to Bolivia to see the salt flats [Salar de Uyuni], but on this adventure, a plan is just a guide and very much made for change. The friends I met in Iquitos & Lima convinced me to make my way to San Pedro de Atacama. I was told that it was a wonder of the world, not to be missed.
Ok, sounds good to me, I’m sold. From there I can make my way over to Bolivia, two birds, one stone, right? Did I do my homework, no, just went where the wind blows, or in this case where the dust blows.
Where the dust blows…
I have to admit, my time in San Pedro and Salar de Uyuni feels like a complete blur! If I didn’t have the photos to prove it, I’d have thought it was all a dream.
My initial impressions on the drive from the Calama airport to San Pedro was ‘what an amazing landscape’. This got old real fast when I realized I was in dessert terrain. Days were hot [~27C/80F], nights were cold [~3C/37F], everything was dry and dusty. A complete contrast from the rainforest.
Oh, wait, did I say early I had stepped from one world to another? Well add one more ! Welcome to San Pedro de Atacama [San Pedro], I subsequently learn it is described as ‘the driest place on earth’. Wikipedia says it’s ‘… the driest non-polar desert in the world’. Hmm.
As soon as I checked into my guest house, which I found has NO internet/wi-fi access. Lesson: research exactly what I’m signing up for in the future, yeah right! I went straight to a tour of the Moon Valley ‘Valle de la Luna’ which lasted into the evening, day one over.
My guest house, The House of Music, was a bit ‘eccentric’ but was a great place for musicians as the owners played or just had a natural love for music. Musicians were there day and night with their instruments creating wondrous sounds.
‘Tours’ aren’t my first choice in many places, however, I found that San Pedro is a great place to take day tours, especially when you have just a couple of days there. It was easy, hassle free and many had no more than 12 people which ensured you didn’t feel like sheep being herded.
I mentioned in a previous post that I’d never see so many travel agents in one place as I did in Iquitos. Well, San Pedro beats them all so far, every other store front was a travel agency. Tangi at Salar Andino Expediciones was amazing and provided impeccable service. He was fast to respond and even worked via WhatsApp to communicate.
The following morning I had a full day tour of the San Pedro area and Piedra Rojas and the evening was filled with an Astronomico [astrological] viewing with Stargazing San Pedro de Atacama.
As you’ll see below, the geography and landscape in the San Pedro area are just stunning. Most beautiful are some of the lagoons with crystal clear waters and salt formations.
Tres Marias [3 Marias] Quartz & Granite rock formations
Did you know that there are six known species of flamingos, three or four species are found in the Americas? I saw more in the space of an hour here than I have my entire time in South Florida. As a matter of fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ‘live’ flamingo in South Florida other than on ‘Miami Vice’, and that’s not considered live is it!
From San Pedro de Atacama, I’ll be making my way to Salar de Uyuni, stay tuned.
Love & Light,
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