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JLW on the Road: San Pedro de Atacama

25 May 2017

Fresh from her epic adventures in South East Asia, outdoor hero JLW on the Road is trekking the length of Chile, and charting her highlights here. Currently she’s up in the North checking out San Pedro de Atacama.

Chile is a huge country, in fact it’s the longest and thinnest country in the world running from the Andes to the Pacific. It’s one of the most diverse countries boasting the world’s driest desert in the north contrasting with the most unbelievable glaciers in the most southerly point, Patagonia. Slap bang in the middle of these two polar opposites lies the modern, buzzing capital city, Santiago.

Made up of desert, the climate in the North is constantly warmer than the rest of the country, making it a popular destination all-year-round. The winter season, for example, runs from June to August yet the days are warm (with highs of 20 degrees) but, since there’s no cloud coverage, it gets very chilly at night.

My highlights of the north all sit within one area; in and around San Pedro de Atacama. Getting there was easy; I flew into Calama El Loa airport and took a shared minibus from outside the airport (it’s swarming with transport) and drove for an hour and a half until reaching accommodation in Atacama.

Flying to Calama from Santiago takes two hours and I couldn’t believe my eyes seeing the huge change in climate. Peaking out of the boxed window on the flight I was hit by the sight of the most magnificent rolling sand dunes and the sheer scale of desert.

IMG_20161027_172720Atacama there are cute narrow cobbled streets, bustling restaurants and rows of tour agencies occupying every other doorway. The place is known as the archaeological capital of Chile and it’s easy to see why – the church dates back to the 1600s, and nearby Casa Incaica is older still. After lots of bartering and not being able to decide what activity to do (there are SO many) I decided to take my own tour to Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon) on a bicycle. There are many places to rent a bike from and it’s very cheap.

Cycling through the towering sand stone formations the natural phenomenon was tranquil and majestic. Once I made it to one of the highest points (with a little help! I wouldn’t recommend doing this alone) the sunset over the brilliant surroundings was breathtaking. Various colours of reds, greens and yellows bounced off the rolling dunes I sat and watched the sun go down and for the first time in a while I heard the sound of nothing! Blissfully silent, sat isolated from the ‘real world’ I’d highly recommend this spot for lovers of the outdoors and appreciators of getting away from the hustle and bustle.

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The hard part is getting back! Remember a torch; after the sunset the Valley slowly slips into darkness. In the pitch black, if you’re lucky you’ll have the light from the moon to help but it’s still worth taking a torch since I couldn’t see a thing! Great for stargazing, not so great for manoeuvring my way home.

Watch this space for more of Jade’s adventures in South America, and don’t forget to check her out on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/jade_louise_worsley/) on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/JLWontheroad) and on youtube (https://www.youtube.com/user/jadeworsley1) for more awesome content.