As we approached San Pedro de Atacama the landscape became increasingly beautiful – huge swathes of desert rocks in vibrant reds, and perfectly-shaped volcanoes hanging over us. The bus very kindly stopped at a viewpoint overlooking the Valley of the Moon so we could grab some pictures, and for the first time as we exited the bus we could feel the first effects of the altitude – even at only 2500 metres the air was noticeably thinner. We continued into town, a cute little place filled with shops and restaurants catering for the groups of tourists (and the first town we have been in so far in which we have heard lots of English).
After lunch and a bit of shopping, a few of us wandered out of town and towards the valley, discovering spectacular views, and as we chatted and walked around, the sun began to set and the changing colours of the landscape burst into life – so much so that F and I are hoping to take an excursion out there tomorrow afternoon to watch the sun set and wander around the rock formations after it gets dark.
The temperature is at extreme ends up here – the days being wonderfully warm and bright, and the evenings bringing the temperatures down to minus degrees – we’ve been warned that for one of our trips tomorrow which starts at 4am we should expect -10. In preparation I bought a woolly hat at a little shop on the main strip – I might look completely daft but hopefully will stay a bit warmer!
We have a few days here before heading on, and there are lots of activities available, our options only potentially limited by how we respond to the altitude. So for now we’re keeping flexible and will see what catches our eye tomorrow.