Saturday, May 12, 2012

Seeing the moon and mars surfaces in Valle de Munde, San Pedro deAtacama

We reached San Pedro de Atacama at midnight and it was Saturday. People were partying and we were lucky to catch up with the owner of Hostel Jarique who was about to leave for party, and asked about the priceof dormitory. It was 5000 chilean peso per person, with internet and kitchen. It sounded alright and we were too tired to find further choices, so we took that.

The next day we woke up late and had a breakfast of full pasta with broccoli bought from Melipilla (it was 3 days old). Then we asked around the agencies about the three-day trip to Uyuni salt lake, Bolivia.Although later we found that there were buses from Calama to Uyuni, we still found that a trip from San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni, crossing the border and visiting the lake was a economical one. Finally we enrolled one by Turismo Colque, which was one of the cheapest and recommended by lonely planet. There we also enrolled an excursion to Valle de la Luna, with the thought that enrolling two trip in same agency would get discount. No, it didn’t go like that.

The excursion started at 3pm, so we had some time to have lunch. Maria was so attracted by the pastel de choclo (maize pie) that we ended up sharing one with the price that we could have two lunches in workman canteen near the football pitch (again it is so easy to earn money from woman). And the dish was not as good as in Pomaire.

We also walked around the town, saw a church made of wood, the souvenir market where I saw hat made of Lama wool ( I would have bought it if I were a tourist going back home in days) and saw part of a local football match. The town was really in the middle of the desert; wind blew up and it was dust and sand everywhere. At 3pm we went back to the gathering place, the travel agency for the trip but we were brought to the entrance of another agency. Obviously they were merging different groups together, with the confusion of names and waiting here and there, it started late at 3:30pm.

We was told that the tour is in English, yes the guide could speak English, but he preferred speaking Spanish and spend time flirting or making jokes in Spanish rather than translating English for a couple of us. We felt cheated.

First we went into the Moon Valley park, 
which was the geological masterpiece with the mountain ranges formed by crystal salt, clay and paster. We went into the tunnels form by flowing stream due to rain. Theguide said the average rainfall in the area was only 50mm per year but there was rain of 30mm in the last month. The landscape was changed a lot already.

Then we went to the sand dome, 
where we had the panoramic view of the valley. The guide mentioned some aboriginals living in the area. They were nomad and build a city in the year before Christ and only stayedfor a few hundred years and moved away. He said we should visited the site soon.

But it turned out we did not go but to the gate of the "death valley" then the top of a hill seeing the valley from the top. It was beautiful though, with the sunset on the Andes shining to the opposite valley.


On the way we saw people biking to here. I am sure that if we took a bike we could visit more places of the moon valley. It only costs 3000 peso for renting a bike for 7 hours, but it would be a long cycling from the town to the valley. Well, I would rather join the trip or in future rent a car going there.

It was an easy afternoon in the town before we took off to the tougher 3 days trip to Uyuni salt lake.

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