Salar de Tara

Tuesday 13th October 2015

Here is the second cat of the hostel, hanging out on the roof in the morning to warm itself up.

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We got picked up around 8.30am and shoot off. There was a great atmosphere in the mini-van. There were 6 Brazilians and we were 7 French people, a couple the age of my parents and a young couple there too, Celine and Vincent who also travel for a few months and have their blog here:

First stop was to have breakfast at 3,600 meters. Now the funny thing is that my GPS and 2 other ones were saying that the altitude was roughly 3,600 meters but Tim our guide said that it was not possible, that we were probably lower around 3,000 meters, otherwise at that altitude you would see the food of the vicunas and vicunas too around here. He didn`t want to believe the GPS, even if three of them said the same thing. Anyway. Brekky was nice!

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View of the surroundings.

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View of the road we just took. You can notice the lines are white, which means we are still on the national road.

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Tim told us about this plant from which you can take the seeds and rub them into your hands and then smell this. It helps when people have a cold for example.

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We saw these llamas with the Licancabur Volcano in the background a bit after we left the brekky place.

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Now that we were getting closer to the border between Chile and Bolivia, we were on an international road and the lines on the side of the road were yellow.

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Landscape around

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We stopped and walked a little bit in a crazy wind and saw this laguna from a distance.

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Later we stopped again at another view point to admire this landscape.

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The water was frozen.

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Another stop where we walked alongside this green lake.

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The contrast between the water colour and the sky and the grey of the volcano was really stunning.

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Another stop next to this huge stone.

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We saw vicunas.

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Tim told us, secure your belt, it is going to be bumpy! And sometimes, put your hand to the roof to avoid bumping your head to it!

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We did another stop to look at the onyx stone.

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View of the surroundings next to this spot.

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Then we drove a bit more and stopped in a place from which the view was incredible even if it was really really windy!

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To the left

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Another view

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Juanitette taking a sun bath.

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Then we drove a bit more and were facing a downhil. Tim asked everyone: “Should we go down?” A few were saying “no,no,no!!!” in particular my mum who…hates facing a downhill!! And Tim laughed and drove straight down in this valley, to the left of this.

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I took a little video of the ride down the hill in which you can see some of the crazy stone formations we looked at after.

Walking around to look at the stones down in the valley.

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Then we drove again a bit and went to the start of a walk. Tim was explaining us about it, it is about 40 minutes to 1 hour walk, he will meet us at the end of it and we will have lunch there. Ok cool.

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To our left before to start the walk, where the road in the sand continues in the sky. Nice. Could take that road!

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Starting the walk.

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Here is a gallery of photos of this walk. I let you click on the first one and use the arrow to navigate to the next! Have a good walk! It was really pretty. Most of the walk, I walked with Celine and Vincent and Celine was a keen photographer too and we kept stopping hundreds of times to take a shot with a new angle. It was hard not to!

Last shot of the lake.

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Then we had lunch.

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This little bird kept coming around to grab the crumbles of the bread.

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It was around 3pm. Off we went, starting to return towards San Pedro de Atacama.

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Tim could feel the tire was almost flat and stopped the car and started putting the jack to lift the mini-van.

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Luckily, two of his mates who were driving two other mini-vans with tourists stopped and came over to help him. They must be used to do that several times a month. They had another jack which seemed a bit more efficient.

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The jack

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Within minutes, the three of them removed the lug nuts with the wrench, pulled the tire off the car and placed the spare one. Team work!

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And off we were again!

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Passing Licancabur volcano. On the way back to San Pedro de Atacama, most of us took a nap! Tim had awesome music during the day, very punchy one when going down the hill and very soft one making you fall asleep on the way back. He knew his stuff! He was a great guide, professional, funny, and organised an awesome day and organises trips to other areas around San Pedro de Atacama. He also spoke perfect French. He works with Voyage Atacama and you can write to him at or ask for Tim at the agency when you get there!

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When back in San Pedro de Atacama, I laughed when I saw this huge dog peaking his nose inside the shop. “Hey buddy, do you have my weekly juicy T-bones delivery? We are having a dog party tonight.” They guy said “They should be there in an hour. Let me place a phone call to confirm.” Yep. Sure thing. Exactly what is going on here.

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So here was our last exploring of the surroundings of San Pedro de Atacama! But there is so much more!!! You could easily spend 3 weeks there…I wish I had more time!!! 😀 Here is a list of things you can go to see.

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I walked to the Bus Terminal to check out the timetable for buses going from San Pedro de Atacama to Calama and from Calama to Uyuni.

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There I realised there was only one company doing the itinerary, Atacama 200, and only one bus a day going from Calama to Uyuni, at 6am every day. Calama is about 1h30-2hours from San Pedro de Atacama. And for once, I thought…I wish I had looked at that earlier! As my parents were taking their flight the next day around 11am from Calama to Santiago, we could actually have gone to Calama that evening to sleep there, which means I could have taken the 6am bus the next morning. But it was too late to change plans, it was already almost 7pm. So I was stuck the next day in San Pedro de Atacama to take the bus the day after. Not a big deal, but didn`t feel like it. I felt like taking that 6am bus the day right after!! Annoyed!!! That is what can happen when you really leave everything but everything to the last minute!! Actually I say one bus a day, but not even. I was lucky that even if I was missing the Wednesday 6am bus, I could take the Thursday 6am bus. If today had been a Thursday, I would have had to wait 2 days for the Sunday bus! Even worse. Sure I could go see more things, but I was really keen to get going.

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If you feel like climbing a volcano, you have some choices here.

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Last evening in San Pedro de Atacama!

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We went for a good dinner and off to bed! Tomorrow, day off in San Pedro de Atacama, sorting out photos and blogging and off to Calama in the evening!