Alison & Ryans Travel Log travel blog

Sunset in Valley of the Moon


Fading Colours in Valley of Moon

Hanging out in San pedro

Crossing the Andes from Argentina into the north of Chile we passed over the highest point of our trip. The road wound up the mountain, and hours of switchbacks to reach the peak made it feel longer than it already was. We arrived in San Pedro late in the afternoon and by the time we found a hostel Ryan was developing a bad migraine from the 5000m crossing. It continued to get worse and after drinking some coca tea he found a little relief before going straight to bed. His first taste of altitude sickness but we were lucky that San Pedro was only at 2440m the symptoms eased after a few days rest.

The Atacama desert was originally was a part of Bolivia until Chile claimed it as their own (after the discovery of rich mineral deposits, particularly nitrate). San Pedro de Atacama is a tiny tourist town located in a small oasis in the middle of the desert. Most of the housing and buildings in the town were made of mud bricks with thatch roofing that gave the town a very rustic desert feel.

The Atacama desert is the driest desert in the world and is in an area of rain shadow surrounded by mountains and volcanoes over 6000m. The annual rainfall for the area is just 1mm per year but there has been periods where for hundreds of consecutive years that no rain has fallen. It is due to this lack of moisture that is considered to be one of the best places in the world to view the stars and a huge international observatory is currently under construction.

During the day in the town in was unbelievably hot and we spent most of the time hanging out in the hammocks, reading and relaxing. At night we spent a lot of time watching the stars which were just incredible. It was so clear and completely cloudless and one night we even thought we saw a UFO high in the atmosphere. One of the days we were there we went trekking through the nearby valley of the moon. It was an amazing day, again scorching hot which ended with watching the sunset change the colours of the surrounding mountain range.

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