Monday, November 26, 2012

2012, 9th - 12th November: San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

For the full complement of photos corresponding to this blog entry, use the following address for the set of photos in my Flickr pages:

Parts of the Atacama Desert are the driest places on earth, fortunately, the small town of San Pedro de Atacama receives its water from irrigation channels fed by aquifers from nearby mountains. The area is a large salt flat (like Salar de Uyuni), however, the surface is covered with earth and volcanic ash. Furthermore, it is not a perfect plain so one can forget that you are on a salt flat. In many places just below the dust is halite (sedimentary salt) which is very hard. This area (as well as the Salar de Uyuni area) used to be under the sea. When the Andes were pushed up by the slow collision of tectonic plates, in some places the sea water was trapped in a depression between mountain cordilleras. Slowly, the trapped sea water was evaporated by the sun – leaving behind salt flats and sedimentary salt.

Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley)

Stripes of Sedimentary Rock
in Valle de la Muerte (Death Valley)

On crossing the border from Bolivia to Chile, the difference between the two countries was stark – immediately things were more presentable and organised. San Pedro de Atacama is a pleasant little town with most of the buildings constructed from adobe. It is a good base from where to take some tours, in the cooler late afternoon and evening, to local sights such as Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley), Valle de la Muerte (Death Valley), Laguna Sejar and Laguna Tebinquiche. The sunset at the latter lake was stunning, while the water in Laguna Sejar is so salty, one can float very easily – in fact the buoyancy is so high that one has to tread water to hold one´s legs underwater, and when you relax they immediately pop to the surface.

Floating on the Very Salty Laguna Sejar

Salt Flat Nest to Laguna Tebinquiche

Sunset at Laguna Tebinquiche

Sunset at Laguna Tebinquiche

Sunset at Laguna Tebinquiche

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