Lazy morning in San Pedro with breakfast at 9:30 and a morning of sorting our stuff ahead of the 3 day trip to Salar de Uyuni. From the slight surprise from our hostel I think people come here for a short period of time and blitz the tours and then move off. Don’t think many people spend morning in chilling out…
We eventually cycle in to town for lunch (amazing salad served inside a giant lettuce leaf) and a walk round and buy some rubbish hats but needed are much needed to protect you from the quite brutal heat in the dessert.
San Pedro de Atacama is a slightly curious place. It consists of mud streets, single storey buildings mostly with thatched flat roofs and exists almost entirely to provide a hub for tourists to visit the amazing scenery.
Our afternoon ‘activity’ is a visit to some nearby lakes and a small scale Chilean salt flat. Yet again we meet some lovely people on our tour and we chat to an Austrian/German couple called Sophia and Martin for a good portion of the trip.
First stop is a salt water lake with 20% salt concentration which allows for some strange swimming similar to that you get in the Dead Sea whereby you just float with no need to exert any effort at all. This is followed by a fresh water lake in the middle of the dessert (Niki swims here too, I choose to watch from the sides) and eventually the salt flats where we watch the sunset and drink yet more Pisco Sours and eat crisps.
Another member of the tour Oscar out photo-geeks Niki with the equipment he has brought and our group is the last to leave as take a number of self timed group shots. I try to encourage a daft hold the cup in your mouth to look like a nose shot, but only Sophia joins in and immediately regrets it when it results in an eyeful of Pisco Sour.
On the way back the bus is full of chatter and laughter and Niki learns some more Spanish vocabulary of some Chilean tourists, but its the kind you don’t use in front of your Mum.
We only have 40 minutes before our next ‘activity’ so a quickly shared plate of empanadas provides sustenance before we head off to the Meteorite Museum and Observatory. The Atacam dessert provides one of the least light polluted places on earth and also a great place to find meteorites and Stuart the guide (originally from Belgium but here because he followed a women) gives one of the most educational and thought provoking 3 hours you will ever have.
An hour plus in the museum (where we learn all about meteorites) and then 2 hours outside for a lesson in astronomy, complete with telescope training, that was extraordinary. The mixed group fired questions at Stuart who answered them easily and in a way that made sense, and I think years of school science mysteries were solved in peoples heads. I particularly like his thoughts on the big bang theory (too convenient) and that we don’t know the size of the universe because light hasn’t had time to travel to us yet from the places far far away.
With mind blowing thoughts running through our heads we have a 2am E.T. cycle road home ahead of an early start tomorrow for our adventure into Bolvia across the salt flats.