The Atacama Desert (N Chile)

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kirsteng's picture
Joined: 10/19/02
Posts: 644
The Atacama Desert (N Chile)

We just got back from 4 days in the Atacama Desert. It's in the far north of Chile, bordering Bolivia and Peru - it was a 2 hour plane ride north of Santiago. The Atacama is the driest desert on earth after the Sahara - some parts have not seen rain in 7 years. It was a really surreal landscape - I've never seen anything like it. They do lunar robot trials in this desert, as it most closely resembles the lunar landscape of anywhere on earth. It was a fantastic and eye-opening trip for the whole family!

THis was one of the only trees we ever saw, outside of the oasis that we stayed in (San Pedro de Atacama). This tree is probably hundreds of years old.
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Hiking up to see the sun set in the "Valley of the Moon".
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The sunset:
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Sand dunes:

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Corner store made of adobe where we bought one of the many, many, many drinks that we consumed during that 4 days. Still, we were dehydrated, sunburned, and all had horrendous chapped lips.

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Little village in the mountains. All houses are adobe with straw roofs. This village was at 4000 metres above sea level - the equivalent of halfway up Mount Everest. They sold coca leaf tea to deal with altitude sickness.

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We left at 4am to see the El Tatio Geyser Field. At 4400 metres, it's one of the highest in the world. It was about -10Celcius at 6am when we arrived, but by noon would be 30C. At this altitude, we all felt a little sick... when I had to push the stroller uphill back to the car, I almost got sick. My heart was beating like a jackhammer... but the place was incredible. Water bubbling up out of the earth, boiling.. steam vents everywhere, and geysers that shot boiling water 6 feet into the air.

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Grady makes a friend in town. She was 2 weeks older than him, but you can see that the size difference is substantial! Smile

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A salt lake on a volcanic plain. Only DH and Mimi actually got in the water as it was (strangely) FREEZING, although the air temp was about 30C (90F?). It was so salty you could float with your arms and legs in the air.

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Exploring a 1000 year old village in an oasis. The sand in these caves is warm, even at night, due to volcanic activity.

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Aloe vera growing along the river in the bottom of the valley where these caves are:

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Cave hieroglyphics from 3000 BC
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The kids find a llama - thrillsville! Smile We didn't tell them that the empanada they'd just eaten in that village was made of llama meat...

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rachelperry1983's picture
Joined: 04/13/07
Posts: 809

Kirsten, these pics are awesome!! It's so wonderful that your kids are getting to experience places like this. Man, I feel horrible, we haven't taken our kids anywhere!

Joined: 09/05/08
Posts: 392

That looks just amazing!!

That is quite a temperature jump from morning to mid-day. I don't think I could handle it, I get heatstroke so easily.

What a wonderful experience for all of you Smile

gardenbug's picture
Joined: 03/12/07
Posts: 2025

Beautiful shots and wonderful experiences for all of you! Save these pictures for the kids to look at ten years from now!

fudd8963's picture
Joined: 12/27/07
Posts: 1630

Those are great pictures! Looks like you had so much fun! I had to laugh at the llama comment! When we were teaching the girls what different animals say a while ago, when we got to a deer, I tought them to say "Yummmmm!" Can you tell DH is a hunter? LOL

Joined: 06/10/07
Posts: 1692

Wow! What gorgeous pictures! Quite an experience!

Joined: 01/11/05
Posts: 326

Kirsten! I love seeing your pictures. Thanks so much for taking the time to post them. Do you feel like you've stepped into a dream? I mean, I would love to travel the world and have some of the experiences that you are having right now! With so many other financial responsibilities, I feel like that is only a dream for me. Anyhoo, the dessert is beautiful and what a wonderful opportunity for your kids to see a whole different lifestyle! Chile is a beautiful country.

RebeccaA'07's picture
Joined: 11/19/07
Posts: 1628

Can you be a host...we'll all come visit one at a time Wink

That is just gorgeous! How lucky to be in a place like that!!

kirsteng's picture
Joined: 10/19/02
Posts: 644

"RebeccaA'07" wrote:

Can you be a host...we'll all come visit one at a time Wink

That is just gorgeous! How lucky to be in a place like that!!

Come one and all! We like visitors and don't get that many of them down here! Smile

Pammi - yes, it is like living a dream for us. Because back in Canada we can't afford this kind of travel either. But down here, part of DH's benefits is a travel allowance (usually used to go see family back home during the posting) but we told everyone before we left that we'd be spending it to see South America! Wink (Not sure MIL is so keen on that plan, but oh well... ).