We arrived at around midday in San Pedro de Atacama. It is a tiny town right on the border fo the desert. As a group we found a tour operator with far batter deals than the one GAP recommende especially as the owner not only spoke perfect english but was willing to give us discounts considering we were such a large group.
That afternoon we began our excursion to the Valley of the Moon. The view were breath taking! We went through numerous valleys of caves and salt rock formation before finally reaching the valley itself. It was a great tour covering everyting from a little bit of rock climbing, caving and the chance to sit in awe at the top of a mountain watching the sunset playfully cast a multitude of colours on the surrounding volcanoes.
That evening we went to our tour operators restaurant and enjouyed enourmous portions in the company of log fires. Lovely.
The secobnd day in San Pedro, having decided to risk my cut up foot still sore from the volcano climb, I booked on a tour of the Salt Lakes. That morning we went for breakfast at small cafe by the local football pitch. The food was simple but a wonderful breakfast none the less. We were also joined by Pete another Scot who we had met at the observatory.
As I was not going to the salt flats until the afternoon I took the oportunity to explore the town. Despite it being absolutely tiny there were hundreds of small shops to look around. Unfortunately when the Chilians were weaving their Llama and Alpaca wool clothing,which is incredible comfortable, they didn´t seem to have people of my size in mind! Oh well.
The Salt Lagoons tour consisted of 3 seperate stops. The first was not to dissimilar to the Dead Sea in Jordan. If anything, despite being slightly less boyant within it the experiance was far nicer as it lacked the oily quality of the Dead Sea. Where we entered the lagoon which for the majority was not much more than 2m deep there was a single pool in which the bottom dropped to around 73m
The second stop was at a pair of pools without the heavy salt content. We were able to jump or in my case dive from the banks about 2m above the surface. The water itself was quite fresh though the banks stank of the sulphur associated with a volcanic spring.
The final stop was marvellous. Perhaps only a couple of centimetres deep at the centre you could walk accross the entire length of this vast lagoon at points looking like you were walking on water. The salt content was so high that as soon as I removed my foot from the water salt crystals began forming on my skin. At the very edge the salt had crusted and provided a very satisfuing crunch with each step. We stayed to watch the sun set over this lagoon. At the same time, we also managed to take numerous jumping/stretching photos. Great Fun!
That evening the group split up to have dinner and a couple of us stopped to have a drink to say goodbye to Pete.