Lagunas Altiplánicas tour
We woke early and had a wet wipe ‘shower’ since the hot water at our hostel was solar powered and the temperature overnight had plummeted the temperature of the hot water cylinder so board line freezing. With our layers upon layers of merino and anything else we could get our hands on clothing, feeling a bit like a walking sleeping bags, we were ready for our 7.30 pick up.
We were the last to get picked up and with a couple from Brazil, a couple from Chile and a Canadian girl we were off to our first stop BREAKFAST. Breakfast was at a wee local town Socaire about an hour out of San Pedro, it was the basics cheese, eggs, bread and most importantly coffee – I must drink all of the coffee.
Then we were off to the Piedra Roja (red rocks) about another hour away, on probably the most bumpiest roads I have been on to date. Honestly it was so bumpy I was sure that any second a wheel was going to just pop off and it wasn't too kind on my newly coffee filled bladder.
The Piedra Roja had 360° of absolutely mind blowing beautiful views, from the mountains to the red rocks to the lagoon/salt lakes. The sites were like something off a movie, unreal, unrefined beauty. I wish we could have stayed there longer to just admire it or in Ryan's case photograph every inch of this paradise. Check out some of the images we managed to capture below.
Next we were off to the Lagunas Altiplánicas, lagoons Miscanti and Miñiques, which are a crazy 4200m above sea level, though we didn't feel any altitude sickness – this could be because we took a altitude pill that morning – but our tour guide did warn us to take it slowly and to drink plenty of water. A bonus on the ride here was that we got to see some Vicuñas – wild llamas just hanging out on the side of the street.
The Lagunas were beautiful infact everything on this tour was in it own way unreal! Even though we are so far up in altitude it's hard to think that lagoons would be up so high but it's because the eruptions years and years ago off set the landscape.
Our lunch stop back at Socaire consisted of bread with a vegetable soup starter followed by chicken with with rice and purple potatoes and finishing off with some mango. Surprisingly the double carb is very common within Chile and I think a lot of South America, with Chile being the second highest consumer of bread in the world.
Now that our tummies are full it's onto our second to last stop was to see the flamingoes at the Salar de Atacama, something I was soooo excited about – Pink Flamingoes yay! Once you got use to the smell of rotten eggs you could truly start admiring the view. It was so peaceful and quiet, the sun reflected off the salt flats creating an intense heat and even the mountains reflected in the water. We stood in the middle of the two salt flats so occasionally you got to see the odd flamingo flying from one side to the other which was so majestic. Check out how excited I was about seeing the flamingoes.
Lastly we pit stopped in Tocanao for some ice cream and llama greeting. In this case these are called llamas because they are tamed animals not wild. We were lucky that our tour guide was friends with the lady that both owned the little diary and the llamas, so whilst we munched away at our refreshing ice creams we were mingling with two llamas, not something you do everyday that is for sure. These llamas were so tame that they followed the lady around like shadow even wondering their way into the shop and had a wee munch on some potato chips. Too cute.
Then back into town for some dinner and sleep, much needed sleep!
Photo credit: Ryan Christie and Mind the Pack