The Pacific Coast and the Atacama
14.05.2010 - 17.05.2010 10 °C
Entering Chile was like entering a different world. Arica and Iquique are very European. In fact Iquique was like a mini Costa Del Sol. Order waas restored to chaos. Drivers had rules to obey, vehicles stopped to let people across the road and the tap water could be drank in a certain amount of safety.
Having said all that in the four days we have been in Chile many of the group have commented that we have lost something. The chaos of Bolivia and Peru was different. Chile seems all too familar in the attitudes and behaviour of the people.
What is very different is the landscape. We have travelled through endless desert. The Atacama is truly vast. Lifeless and empty it stretches forever. The roads can be dead straight. We measured one stretch that went on for 54 miles without a bend !
The coastal roads are every bit as spectacular as those we found in Peru. With the Pacific on our right and the Atacama on our left its hard to get lost. We always knew we were heading south with that combination.
Eventually we turned inland and headed for San Pedro de Atacama. On the way we encountered high winds for hour after hour which did their best to drive us off the road or into the opposite carriageway. We also encountered rain. Well we didn't exactly see the rain but we saw the water left on the road and the rain clouds. That was near enough for us. Rain in the Atacama is very rare indeed.
San Pedro is a strange place consisting of mud houses, with many hippy types some of whom seem to have come in the 60's and forgot to leave. Its made for adventure holidays. If you want to mountain bike, sand board down dunes, climb mountains or smoke dope this is the place for you. As for us we cleaned the bike and are waiting to hear if the high pass into Argentina is passable or blocked with snow. Some people left our hotel this morning to cross over the Paso de Jama at 4,800 metres but were turned back at the border. So we may have to wait here until it clears.