Licancabur. The Holy Mountain
The Licancabur can be easily recognized. It is simply the most beautiful peak around. I was fascinated by it?s shape and my eyes kept searching the big L over and over again while hiking. For this pic I waited until the last sun rays kissed the peak. I don?t know if there are tours to climb it or if the gods still have it to themselves. Find out yourself if you dare and like?
Whether you have tried it or not you should go to Valle de la Muerte for some sandboarding. The scenery is amazing, and the experience is so much fun! You can either rent a sandboard & bike from San Pedro and cycle there, or else you can go with an instructor (which is a good idea for beginners). Whether you get the hang of it or not, you are guaranteed an entertaining couple of hours. One word of warning though - be prepared to clean up sand from every orifice, wrinkle and crease in your body for days afterward! You can rent sandboads from agencies in town. You will also need something to wax the sandboards, usually a candle will do.
Valle de la luna (CHILE)
There are a few South American countries with Valle de la luna's (Moon Valley) on their maps. I have to say that the Valle de la luna in Argentina near San Juan is the best.
Everyone in San Pedro takes the bus out to the Chileno version at sunset. Expect to park along side 10 other buses. You then walk up the dunes to a cliff that looks over the valley as the sun sets. We did not like the look of the bus option so we hired mountain bikes and made our own ways there. The trip takes about 1 hour each way pedalling. Take a torch as it gets pretty dark in the desert after sunset. The stars are amazing! The Valley of the moon itself is impressive but nothing compared to the one in Argentina where you are actually grabbing for an oxygen mask...and start making starlogs as you leave hiking boot imprints in the moon dust behind you.
Mad Max's playground
Another day, another pack of tourists, and then the absolute solitude again: there’s nobody in 100 kilometres around, but there are vicuñas: they number in a couple of hundreds, and after they saw that we weren’t a threat, they dared to walk around the tent, and even inspect it to see what living being was inside...just like a group of 20 German tourists did one morning, when they gathered in a huge group in front of the tent to photograph it, and who got int a sort of paroxism when I peered out of the door to see what was going on outside (my sleepy pictures and videos should be in several European albums right now...)
The geothermal field was discovered around 1942, and tried to be developed into a geothermal source in the late 60’s, but it failed as well as the lithium mining attempt.
Remainders of that age, are the bizarre structure left in the middle of the salt flat, which recalls somewhat of a sequence of Mad Max.
Its area is about 10 sq. kilometres, and is located 97 kilometres N of San Pedro de Atacama, at an altitude of 4337 metres (14,225 ft.) on coordinates S 22º19’53,8” /W 68º00’47,7” (that of my tent).
In summer, it is reasonably endurable for most people, when the lower morning temperatures reach around –12º, but in winter this scene turns much colder, making the stay in the outdoors a demanding –and sometimes, life-threatening experience for those ill-equipped- as night the lowest temperatures are easily in the –40ºC range.
Nikon F4s, Nikor 20 mm., f.16 (set for hyperfocal), 1/60 sec, POL filter
Geysers and hotsprings
The geysers at the vulcano?s are a wonderfull sight and very interesting!
ONE CATCH THOUGH!!!!! you'll have to get up at 03.00 hrs A.M. because the tours leave at 04.00 hrs. A.M.
this is because the activity of the geysers is the highest at about 06.00 hrs till 07.00hrs! A.M.
but it's worth it!