The infamous dusty desert city of San Pedro de Atacama, the base for all tours in that area at over 2.400 m (7.800 ft) above sea level in the Andes. Entering the city feels like entering a different era – from those old Hollywood western movies, expecting Clint Eastwood greeting you around the next corner. The streets are not paved at all and only the main square is cobbled. Right on arrival we tried to reserve the tours we have planned for our days here. The first evening we wanted to visit the Valle de la Luna at sunset, followed by a whole day seeing the so called Piedras Rojas and the Altiplano Lakes and finishing up our visit with an early morning tour to the El Tatio geyser.
Booking a tour is not that difficult since San Pedro seems to only be made of restaurants, shops and tour operators. However, finding the right one was a little bit more difficult. We walked into many offices, each offering more or less the same tour differing mostly by what food they offer and which vans they use. We decided to go with Vive Atacama Tours, as they kind of emphasized on the importance of having a proper seat belt in the van. When booking we couldn’t really figure out why, but on the 2nd day we saw why. But more on that in another post (click HERE for the whole story).
And before I forget there are also dogs in the city … lots of dogs! They are literally everywhere and the best scene was probably the moment when we saw a pack of probably a dozen dogs running around the main square and then visiting the church. They all stayed inside for a little Hallelujah and then came running out again looking really blessed.
Last but not least, you should also try a “Mote con Huesillo” – one of Chile’s national Drinks – if you get the chance to. We saw that on various vending signs in Chile but never tried it until San Pedro. It is a traditional Chilean summer-time non-alcoholic drink made from wheat and peaches and is sold in street stands. It’s quite sweet but really delicious!