As we joined the road that snaked its way down the valley onto the Atacama Desert all of a sudden there were sign posts everywhere, a telling ‘sign’ we had arrived into a more structured and developed country. The bus journey was 90% down hill with Licancábur Volcano towering over us like nature’s version of a skyscraper, reminding us of the world that we had left behind.
Here enters Zephyr, our single poled green hiking tent. Our final option was to camp for 10,000 Chilean Pesos a night (AUS$20 / £12.50). This was far more realistic, however it still seemed steep to pitch a tent in a dust bowl with only a little shade – in comparison this was the same price paid for a private room with an ensuite in Cusco, Peru. Zephyr had saved the day and paid for itself over the space of one night. Our poor tour buddies Laura and Phil however were lacking a tent and had to succumb to the expensive hotel room, they most certainly made the most of it during their stay!
Our second day was Treeny’s 29th birthday so we celebrated by jumping on some mountain bikes to explore the nearby Devils Canyon and enjoyed an evening dinner with Laura and Phil – which was a welcome change from bread and mayonnaise, a birthday treat indeed! The Devil’s Canyon is a long, narrow and deep gorge about a 30minute ride out of town. The landscape was similar to Tupiza, though the canyon was much more like a cave, which made for a pretty exciting bike ride as we navigated our way around the tight twists and turns and under and over rock formations.
Due to the bus schedule we had to stay in San Pedro a couple of extra days than planned. Our next destination would be Salta in Argentina. There are only two companies that run this route across the border between San Pedro and Salta, and both only leave on Sundays and Tuesday’s, and to top it off, at the cost of 27,000 Chilean Pesos each (AUS$54 / £33.75) – an extortionately expensive price in comparison to the buses in Bolivia and Peru.
Next stop Country number four, Argentina – to Salta we go...