If you’re looking for raw natural beauty with the most amazing landscapes, the little town of San Pedro de Atacama in northern Chile should definitely be a destination to visit on your list.
With an average rainfall of 1mm a year, the Atacama Desert is the driest non-polar desert in the world.
There were many activities to choose from. I was not quite as adventurous as the girls who signed up for the expensive trip to climb a mountain above 5000 meters.
Sandboarding was the activity of choice.
Sandboarding and Valle de la Luna
The drive to get to the dunes was a beautiful sight. At one point we got stuck in the desert for about 30 minutes.
The guys had to push the van which took forever despite the somewhat short distance as the tires kept getting stuck in the sand.
We ended up having to walk the distance to the dunes and I was mesmerized by the sight I saw.
The toughest part of the sandboarding trip was probably having to climb the dune every time after going down.
The first time going down was quite freaky as I thought I was going too fast. I learnt that you always had to sit back on the back leg which caused me to really use my right thigh and was quite painful.
I managed to sand board 5 times and clearly got better each time. It was extremely tiring and I probably would have managed better had I eaten something more during the day.
It being so windy did not help at all as we just got sand all over our faces, ears, inside my jeans when I fell over, socks, shoes, etc. I wanted a shower really badly.
My cameras have once again been destroyed by the sand after the Peruvian desert trip.
After sand boarding we were taken to see the sunset and join the rest at the Valley of the Moon.
We did not exactly see the sunset as it was covered by the big rocks but we did see the beautiful colours of the sky on the opposite side of the sun which were pink, blue and purple.
If the moon looks anything like this, I am sure Neil Armstrong had a great time there.
Cycling around San Pedro
The next morning, we went to get our bikes which cost only 3000 Pesos for half a day and cycled off into the desert.
It was one of the most enjoyable things I had done thus far in South America. I absolutely loved it. The landscape kept changing.
Cycling in the sand was very difficult and there were times when we actually had to cross rivers and cycle through mud holes which was challenging the first time but on the way back we were all very fast as we knew what we were doing by then.
Although we had the bikes for 5 hours, we were really out for only about 3 and a half. We even got stuck behind a flock of sheep along our way.
Cycling on the dirt road was quite tiring as your whole body shakes especially your hands. (Reminds me of the bike trip down the Death Road in La Paz, Bolivia).
Have you been to the Atacama Desert? What did you like about it?
For my other posts on Chile, click here.