A Travellerspoint blog

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Back to Santiago

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I woke up to the bird-warbling outside and the last day here on Easter Island and even though the island has a troubled and violent history I felt sad to leave such nowadays calm and peaceful island. And when I’m thinking about it, the islanders were living a pretty calm and harmonic life and I never saw a clock anywhere on the island, neither in the hotel, restaurant or at the church tower. And the Rapa nui people were speaking great English which is, in a way, a condition if they want to continue living on tourism as they do today. The locals get around on the island by car, moped, motorcycle and bicycle or on horse. I think I reacted most to the horses. Not that it suddenly could appear a man on a horse on the street… no, but the fact that they just “parked” their horses like a bicycle outside the school or store (and the horses actually just stood there without being tied up) or on a lawn so they could graze. I was really fascinated by this. And the horses didn’t run away, they just stood there… During my staying here on Easter Island I managed to find the batteries to my portable baggage scale again (thank God) and after breakfast I weight in my baggage to 22,7 kg and my backpack at 7 kg. Check-out from the hotel was no later than 10am but since my flight did departure at 2.10 pm I had some hours left before my transfer pick-up.

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I left my baggage at the hotel reception and took the opportunity to go down to the moai along the coastline and re-photograph them with the sun shining in front of them. It was warm outside (especially in lee) but the wind was actually chilly and when I was walking around taking pictures a native Rapa nui approached me and wanted to chat and shake hands. This wasn’t the first time during my stay that had happened and they obviously were curious about where I came from since that was the first question they asked me (after asking about my name). Maybe they don’t have too many ginger-tourists visiting the island? Because pale faces were seen all over Easter Island even at this time of year, which by the way counts as low season, so it must have been something else that made them curious about me.

At 11.50am was the pick-up outside my hotel to the airport and I was happy to see Emily on the same transfer bus. We had the opportunity to chat a little before we kept on going on our continuously travelling in opposite directions. Emily was obviously stressed and she had just found out her flight from Santiago to Miami had been advanced and she was nervous she wouldn’t make the change of flight in Santiago. But since it was LAN Airlines operating both flights I told her to check in the baggage all the way to Miami, so she didn’t have to worry about re-check her bags in Santiago. When we arrived at the airport (as I mentioned earlier is very small) we had to x-ray our bags and then stand in line to check in. I had already a pre-booked window seat as I wanted. When I checked in my bag I did noticed they didn’t have a belt but wagons behind the desk where they put the baggage. Another sign that indicates how small this airport was (is). Then I had to wait in the departure area (that didn’t have any beverage or snacks for purchase) before they opened up the security check. Not until we got to “the gate” they had a little snack bar, where I bought a hot sandwich and water.

Boarding started at 1.25pm and almost every seat was full when the flight attendant announced “Boarding completed”. A few minutes later they announced that the staff would walk the isles and spray some kind of insecticide… and they stated that it was NOT harmful in any way. Then I felt like… WTF?!? First I felt like some kind of vermin being sprayed and then I got upset about how they dared to claim that the insecticide was NOT dangerous? Sure I understand the reason to why they did it… but it can’t be good for your health no matter what they say. And that spray was now suppose to circulate around in the airplane for 4 hours and 40 minutes and we all had to breathe that in? SIGH!
Then the airplane taxed out and got into position out on the runway for take-off. As I wrote before, the runway for take-off and landing on Easter Island is just as long as the island is wide, so the pilots cannot afford any mistakes otherwise they will have the plane ending up in the ocean. But the take-off went as planned and I managed to get a couple of nice photos of the island just after take-off.


Now only 4 hours and 40 minutes back to Santiago. During that time we got served with food (chicken with rice and apple cake as dessert) and I must say that time flew by and the plane landed at Santiago Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport about 9.40pm local time (there’s a 2 hour time difference between Easter Island and Santiago). If my travel agency had been smart enough they would have booked a hotel room for me at the airport. BUT for some reason they had booked a room at a hotel in Downtown Santiago… so I had to find my transfer and get to the hotel. Now afterwards I have e-mailed my travel agency and told them that it was very inconvenient though. So I checked in just after 10pm at Hotel Panamericano, nicest hotel so far during my trip but totally unnecessarily since now I had a transfer back to the airport at 5.25am. I wouldn’t even be able to have breakfast at the hotel so I had to order a breakfast-bag instead.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Chile Tagged cities traveling easter_island Comments (0)

Atacama Desert – here I come!

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Had to get up unhealthy early to be able to catch the transfer at 5.25am back to Santiago Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport and the flight departed at 7.30am to El Loa Airport in Calama. It felt like the domestic flight terminal was separate from the rest of the airport and we had to embark a transfer bus to get to the actual airplane. It was bad weather, chilly and drizzling outside. Only problem was that all the passengers didn’t get onto the bus due to lack of space so the bus had to drive back and forth several times to pick-up passengers which delayed our flight. Though it wasn’t a long flight to get to El Loa Airport in Calama, it only took about 1 hour and 45 minutes. And even though it was such short flight we were served both snacks and drinks onboard… watch and learn SAS! Shortly after take-off and before getting into the clouds you had an amazing view over the Andes Mountain Range that proudly rose towards the sky. But even after flying into and above the clouds you could spot peaks of the Andes here and there that stretched all the way up through the clouds.


The closer we got to Calama the nicer weather it got and it got less cloudy and eventually it was a clear sky when we flew in over the Atacama Desert. The sand dunes and dry barren nature spread out underneath the airplane and I don’t know why but it was really beautiful to see.

Atacama Desert is an 181300 km2 desert area in the Antofagasta region in northern Chile and the area is a plateau of saltwater basins, sand and concreted magma and is the driest non-polar desert in the world. Average rainfall is 15 millimeter per year while other areas (Arica and Iquique) only has 1 millimeter per year and some weather stations in Atacama Desert have not received any precipitation at all since the measuring began. Some findings indicate that certain areas in Atacama Desert haven’t had any precipitations at all during 400 years (in between 1570 – 1971). Atacama’s extreme dryness is explained by its geographical location between two big mountain ranges (Andes and Chilean Coastal Mountain Range) and its high altitude which together prevent moisture from both the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean to reach the desert. Thanks to the location of the plateau and the extreme climate, the desert makes it very suitable for astronomical observations. It’s very few particles in the air and humidity of only 10% makes perfect conditions to study stars and planets. That’s why NASA and several other space organizations have observation stations here and even Sweden has two telescopes here in Atacama.


When the airplane had landed at El Loa Airport (2250 altitude meters) and I stepped outside and walked down the stairs to the ground, I felt the air was totally different. It was warm and dry compared to Easter Island which I just had visited for a few days. We passengers had to walk on the ground from the airplane into the arrival terminal, I got my baggage and went for the exit and looked for my private transfer. The driver was an older man who obviously didn’t speak a lot of English so I really had to focus to understand what he said and I finally got that San Pedro de Atacama was 1 hour away. The only things I managed to see of Calama from the air were that it was a small and sandy town that according to me looked very boring, in other words not much for tourists to see here. But Calama is a town in northern Chile that contributes very much to Chile’s economy year after year thanks to its high richness of copper in the surrounding mountains, and copper is (as I mentioned before) one of Chile’s most important exports. San Pedro de Atacama is southeast of Calama and during the drive we passed many beautiful natures. Can’t understand how such barren and secluded desert can be so amazing? San Pedro de Atacama is the oldest town in Chile (founded around 1459) and has an altitude of 2407 meters. The high altitude makes visitors suffer from typical symptoms like dizziness, headaches and apathy due to the extreme mild but dry climate. So tourists are recommended to drink a lot of water during their stay in San Pedro and both water and water bags can be bought in most of the shops and stores in town. Important is also to remember that you are in a desert (and should dress thereafter) with high temperatures during the day (up to +30 °C) that quickly falls down to sometimes below zero degrees Celsius during the night.


My transfer stopped outside Hotel Poblado Kimal and when I got out of the car it was like getting hit by a wall of warm and dry air. The intense sunshine was reflected by the sand on the street and it was almost impossible to see anything without sunglasses on. All houses I’ve seen so far were clay-houses with straw roofs which are very logical due to the climate here. Clay-houses make it cool and comfy inside during the summers and warm during the winters. Hotal Poblado Kimal has 21 wooden cabin-like rooms similar to bungalows with a terrace each. These have been elegant positioned out in a calm relaxing fruit garden in a pattern resembling of an old settlement called poblado. The hotel also respects Mother Earth (Pacha Mama) and Father Sun (Inti) by providing sun energy for all lights at the hotel complex and letting every tree stay in their original place when the hotel was built. I checked in at the hotel at 11am and the girl at the reception told me that the hotel did not only offered room service but also massage and daily tours to several attractions around San Pedro. I had a look at the price list for the massage and felt how badly I needed one, so I ended up booked a 1-hour-massage for only 30000 CLP (30 Euros) at 7pm later that evening. I also got to meet Jane, a British woman and also the one performing the massage. She was a positive down-to-Earth woman full of energy and it was nice to meet her so I had an idea of who would be massaging me later.


Since my room wasn’t cleaned yet I left my bags in the reception and got out on town. The hotel staff had printed out a map and marked some of the streets and places out that could be useful or interesting. The main street Caracoles was only a stone’s throw away from the hotel and since it was about + 30 °C outside most people (including me) walked along the street in the shadows casted by the houses on one side of the street. It was bearable in the shadow but as soon as you got out in the sun it felt like you boiled. I stopped by a store and bought water before I sat down on a bench in the shadow in the lushly town park. Notable was all the street dogs walking around, some of them did wear dog collars but they were so beat up and unhealthy that I assume they were dogs kicked out on the streets. It does hurt to see since I’m not used to street dogs back home.


Time struck lunch but the heat didn’t make me want to eat something though I drank water like crazy. I tried walking back to the hotel to see if my room was ready, but it wasn’t. I ran into Jane again and she told me there was a market today I could visit that was arranged only once a month. Jane tried to describe the way but then she said it was easier for me to go to the park and then just follow everyone else to where they were going. Ha ha, that sounded a little weird… just follow everyone else… But I did as she said and actually ended up at the market place. It was an open area without natural shadows but they had put up fabrics trying to cut off the sunshine the best they could. It was an amazing mixture of both new and second-hand things for sale and I’m pretty sure you could beat down the prices if you wanted to.

But I felt the heat and the strong sunshine and got very tired so I headed back to the town park and sat down in the shadow again. I drank up the last water and had and went back to the main street to buy some more. Now I felt I was starting to get hungry and entered a restaurant and ordered lunch. A delicious chicken lasagna that tasted superb. Just outside of that restaurant was a small ice cream store. I went inside and the man told me it was homemade ice cream and there were a lot of flavors to choose from. I even got to sample different flavors even though I hadn’t decided if I wanted to buy ice cream or not. But I ended up buying a cone with three different flavors (don’t remember what I chose). On the way back to the hotel I noticed an agency that arranged astronomical observation tours in the evenings to stargaze. If you visit San Pedro, one of the best places on Earth for stargazing, you have to take this tour. Only problem for me was that I had booked the massage at 7pm and this tour started at 8pm. But I took a shot and booked the evening tour anyway in hope of being able to re-book my massage.


When I got back to the hotel my room was finally ready! I met with Jane and there was absolutely no problem to change the massage to 6pm instead. I dragged my bags along and the receptionist led the way to my room and I got a little disappointed since I had expected a bungalow… but for some reason they had up-graded my room to a suite. The hotel has two suites, one with a Jacuzzi and the other one without and I had gotten the one without a Jacuzzi. The suites are also built in clay in difference to the smaller wooden bungalows that to me looked so cozy (from outside at least). But eventually I felt okay getting the suite since the terrace was bigger and more protected from insight than the small terraces belonging to the bungalows. Now I was so tired from both the sun and the thin air that I had to rest until my massage. Jane was a tiny woman and had a guy helping her carrying the portable massage table that was set up in my room. And obviously I had enough space for that in my little (big) suite. It was great getting massaged and releasing all tensions after carrying around all my bags and stuff for two weeks now.

I went to the meeting point for the stargazing tour at 8pm dressed in four layers of clothes, mittens and a hat… as I said before, at night temperature crawls down to around zero degrees Celsius and being outside, standing still, stargazing really needs many layers of clothes. We were about 15 people that had booked the same tour and we boarded the bus that took us to a building just outside the town. When we disembarked the bus we met Jared, our expert for the evening, and he brought us up on the roof where he had his two telescopes. He was multilingual and translated everything he said from English to Spanish so all people on the group would understand. Jared introduced himself and then asked each one of us where we came from. When he got to me he didn’t reacted until a few seconds later… “Oh, Sweden?”… and then he said in poorly Swedish: “I’m also from Sweden. From Norrköping.” Then he told (in English) that he was born and raised in Sweden and had a Swedish mother and Chilean father but wanted to move out of Sweden to Chile to reconnect with his Chilean roots.

It took a while for the eyes to adapt to the darkness up on the roof but once they did it was like looking at a sky full of crystals. Stars everywhere shining so bright and strong that the moon became un-noticeable and almost hidden behind the other stars and phenomena you could see. One phenomenon was the Milky Way that you can’t observe from Sweden and the northern hemisphere with your own eyes but here in San Pedro you could see it on your own. With help of two telescopes (one manual and one computerized) we could watch the moon, Mars and Saturn. According to Jared our moon is 1,3 seconds away from the Earth (in light speed) while Saturn is 80 minutes away. Since 2006 our own solar system consists of only 8 planets (again) after the definitions for a planet were changed.
1) The planet must have a sun/star to encircle.
2) The planet cannot be a satellite to another planet/solid material.
3) The planet must have solid material and the material cannot be moving inside the planet.
And since Pluto didn’t fulfill these criteria the decision was made that Pluto did not belong to our solar system anymore. Jared also meant that if those three definitions hadn’t been set up, our solar system had contained even more planets today.

During the evening Jared got the interesting question about how long it takes for us to notice that a star has died here on Earth. He immediately responded with the example of Orion itself. Orion is not visible from the southern hemisphere (except early in the morning) and is best visible from the north where we in Sweden can see it. But he claimed that the right shoulder in Orion already exploded and died but the distance to Earth will make it another 500 years before we can see that the star is gone. That’s actually kind of cool. A slideshow and coffee break were included in the tour and it was very interesting listening to Jared since he was so passionate about his profession as an astronomer. He was competent, experienced and had answers to all questions that were asked during the evening.


Got back at the hotel at 10.30pm, tired, cold and frozen (despite all the layers of clothes) so a nice warm shower and then went straight to bed.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Chile Tagged traveling atacama_desert star_gazing Comments (0)

Flamingos and high altitude

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Woke up in time for breakfast to catch the pick-up at 8.30am and the full-day tour today went to Atacama Salt Flat and the Miscanti and Miñiques lakes. I was in time for my pick-up but when nobody had showed up at 8.45am I asked the staff in the hotel reception if I had missed the pick-up somehow but she answered me that pick-ups are always late… so typical. I had been stressing to be on time just to find out that the transfer probably even won’t be there until later anyway. A few minutes later my pick-up arrived and the guide, Tote, greeted me. Today I was the only English-speaking person riding along but that was no problem for Tote who happily translated everything he said in Spanish into English, just for me.


We drove for 20 minutes to Toconao where we made our first stop. The town was inhabited already in 11000 BC and has today a population of 700 people. Toconao is characterized by being built up of only Liparita, a volcano rock. We had half an hour to wonder around in the town and those who needed to buy water or some kind of snack had to do it here, since we weren’t eating lunch until 2pm. Then we kept on going for another 25 minutes until we arrived at Salar de Atacama (Atacama Salt Flat).


Atacama Salt Flat is the largest saltwater basin in Chile and has an average altitude of 2300 meters. The basin has no outlet thanks to the surrounding Andes Mountain Range in east and Cordillera de Domeyko as well as Cordillera de La Sal (two secondary mountain ranges to the Andes) in west. The landscape in Atacama Salt Flat is dominated by volcanoes as Licancabur, Acamarachi and Láscar whereof the latter reaches 5592 altitude meters and is one of the most active volcanoes in Chile. These mountain ranges are dangerous because a lot of volcanic activities are captured inside and can explode any day, any time. Chile is not only rich of copper but also lithium. Close to 30% of the world’s lithium reserves exists in Atacama Salt Flat and counts as the biggest and most pure active source to lithium carbonate. Atacama Salt Flat divides into two subunits; Soncor and Quelana. Soncor in turn covers Chaxa, Puilar and Barros Negros-lakes which are all included in Los Flamencos National Reserve. You can find three out of six species of Flamingos here in Atacama Salt Flat; Andean, Chilean and James Flamingos. A distinct difference between the Andean and Chilean Flamingo is the legs; Andean has pink legs while Chilean has black legs.

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We disembarked the bus and started to walk in the barren landscape. Tote took the lead and the rest of us followed in his footsteps. There was a narrow path to hike and it was lined with sharp mineral stones that you definitely didn’t want to fall on, they looked like sharp knives. Tote told us the flamingo spend up to 16 hours a day looking for shrimps in the water and it’s not any shrimp but a special Brine Shrimp.


The shrimp is less than 1 centimeter long and has adopted themselves to live in the salty environment, sustain high temperatures and survive in extremely oxygen deficient nature. Before we started walking on this path Tote had showed me an aquarium full of Brine Shrimps and they were really small creatures, barely visible. Brine Shrimps also contain beta-carotene which gives the characteristic pink color to the flamingos. On top of that the shrimps contain a lot of protein giving migrating birds energy. The Flamingo chooses to sleep in the water (standing on one leg) so their main enemy, the fox, won’t be able to reach them. They also build their nests out on islands in lakes for the same reason. After walking the short path around, we had 20 minutes on our own to go around and take pictures.


I snapped a few panorama photos and then headed back to the main building and sat down in the shadow. Even though it was winter/spring here now it was really warm, the sun was broiling at the altitude of 2300 meters and the effect was thereafter – in other words high.

After that we embarked the bus again and Tote now announced that we would be going for another hour and a half to the highland and stop at Puna de Atacama (Atacama Plateau) at altitude 4200 meters. First part of the road was asphalted and the nature around full of volcanoes, mountains and wilderness. Then we turned off on a more narrow dirt road partially so bad it was painful sitting in the bus. It was a bumpy road meandering through the volcanic landscape and sometimes the road almost knotted itself. And up here you started to suffer from the high altitude and no wonder since we eventually stopped at 4200 meters above sea level.


We stopped at Laguna Miscanti (Lake Miscanti). As soon as I got out of the bus I immediately felt the wind blew like polar winds even though it was +15 °C! So freezing cold and the air was thin and difficult to breathe while moving around. But we got out there walking the path along Lake Miscanti for about 100 meters. Piece of cake! We all thought, but boy was it heavy to walk or what? It was barely enough oxygen in the air and the freezing cold wind didn’t make it easier though the scenery was amazing up there. Next to Lake Miscanti was the Volcano Miscanti and the clear blue color in the water against the surrounding barren nature were beautiful, and those 100 meters took like 15 minutes to walk.


The bus was waiting for us at the end of the path and we rode to the next lake, Miñiques, with its volcano Miñiques next to it. This lake was not as big as the first one but had just as impressive landscape around it. After that we turned around and started to traveli the same way back. We made a short stop just outside Socaire and Tote showed us a bush growing next to the road. My first thought was “Uuuuhm, just a regular bush, or?” He wanted us to smell it.


It was a distinct smell, hard to describe, but according to Tote this was a Rica-Rica bush that they make stomach medicine out of and the seeds are one of the ingredients in the drink Pisco Sour. We all went back to the bus and continued to the small village Socaire (only 250 inhabitants) to the longed-for lunch. We were starving and the hot vegetable soup warmed us all up and I had ordered chicken with rice as main dish. Great food after such long and strenuous day at high altitude and when we all had finished our meals we got back on the bus and kept on going back to San Pedro de Atacama. It took over an hour until we arrived and I think most of us on the bus fell asleep for a while, at least I did.

When I got back at my hotel I had no energy to do anything else that day, the air had run out so to speak. In my suite there was a gas radiator you could use during the evening and nights. To me everything that runs with gas (radiators, stoves etc.) is kind of scary in general, maybe because I’m not used to it… But it was necessarily here in the desert during nights when the outside temperature crawled down to like zero degrees Celsius, and then I was glad I had that source of heat to use. But it wasn’t easy to fire it up so I had to get help by the hotel janitor. He was a nice guy, even though he didn’t spoke a single word of English he appeared to be very nice but modest and almost didn’t dare to approach or interrupt us guests.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Chile Tagged mountains volcanos traveling atacama_desert Comments (0)

It’s all about the moon

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Since today’s tour started at 2.30pm I could spoil myself with a nice sleep-in. As a guest at Hotel Poblado Kimal you received a discount at Piedras Australes, a handicraft store selling jewelries among other things. I went over to that stores just to have a look and I would receive a free gift only by showing up that discount coupon. I actually found a nice ring that cost 21600 CLP (26 Euros) with the discount. And the free gift was a keychain in leather. After that I walked to the town park and found a narrow alley that had a small market with sellers selling souvenirs, handicraft etc. It was nice and cool since the sun could not reach in here. Most of the stuff was knick-knacks as usual but I managed to find a nice clay-vase that represented San Pedro to me. Funny though I also found spices, Rica-Rica for example, that Tote told me about yesterday. Rica-Rica is supposed to be helpful for stomach problems and I almost wanted to buy a bag… but then I started to think… what would customs say about that? And how do you even cook with Rica-Rica? I have no idea, so that’s why I didn’t buy any. I found a nice restaurant in the fringe of San Pedro where I stopped for a 3-dish lunch menu with drink and tip included for only 11000 CLP (15 Euros). So cheap!

The guided afternoon tour had pick-up at 2.30pm and I waited and waited… around 3 pm I noticed a full-sized bus pulled up in front of the hotel. A cute little chic named Angelica came to pick me up and she spoke both English and Spanish. I asked her how many people we were going to be since they had a big bus and she answered 31 persons. After picking me up, the bus stopped at one more place before start driving to Valle de La Luna (Moon Valley). Moon Valley is 13 km west of San Pedro de Atacama and a part of Cordillera de La Sal (Salt Mountain Range), which is a part of Los Flamencos National Reserve. Its nature consists of both rock and sand formations shaped by wind and water during centuries and the landscape reminds a lot of the moon surface, therefore the name Moon Valley. The area shows a wide variation of colors and structures and also dry lakes and dehydrated layers of salt. There are also a lot of caves in the area. Moon Valley is considered by many to be one of the driest places on Earth since some areas haven’t got any rainfall in over hundreds of years and due to insufficient humidity no life exists here also making it one of the most inhospitable places in the world.


Our first stop was at Tres Marias (the Three Maries). Three formations estimated being 1 million years old composed of gravel, clay, salt and gemstone and even though they looked created by man only weather and wind have had influence. The name has an obvious religious reference since it (with some imagination) looks like they are praying to God. One formation has fallen over on the side though and a fourth stone (to the left) reminds of an animal (after a whole lot of imagination). It was windy and cold and obviously not as warm as in San Pedro but the sun was just as intense.

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We embarked the bus again and rode to Duns Mayor (the Great Dunes) an area affected by strong winds for thousands of years creating sand dunes in big areas. Our guide told us to bring our water bottles since we would be walking for 30 minutes now along Great Dunes Path and the chilly wind and strong sandstorms made it hard to walk and breathe and even see anything. But it was worth putting yourself through all that to experience the amazing 360°-view from the top of the hill. Great dunes on one side and a barren moon landscape on the other, all surrounded by great mountain ranges and volcanoes was so powerful to see. And seeing the natural beauty without human influence (for once) was amazing. Then it was time to walk back to the bus and continuing on to Cañon (Canyon). It’s a canyon with a cave but since we were so many people in the group the guide didn’t want us to enter the narrow cave.


There are a lot of minerals in the bedrock of Moon Valley. The high day-temperatures expands the mineral structures while the cool night-temperatures makes the mineral structures to contract and the phenomena results in cracking sounds in the rock faces. The guide gathered us at one place where the rock-faces almost enclosed us and asked us to be absolutely quiet and listen. When everyone was quiet a strange cracking sound was heard and you almost got the feeling that the mountain would crack for real.


Before leaving Moon Valley we made a quick stop in Valle de La Muerte (Death Valley). It is told that the name emerged by a Frenchman who thought the landscape was reminiscent of Mars but his bad pronunciation of the word Mars made people believe he said Muerte. Well, I’m not really sure I believe in that story but I guess I can buy it anyway. Then we had to hurry up back to the bus and go to Atacama Valley to watch the sunset. Our bus was probably the last one to arrive and most people had already taken their places and waited for the sunset to begin.

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Sure you have seen the sunset hundred times or so but it was nice to see the warm orange red sheen being thrown against the sand dunes and mountains around. And the chilly wind (as it already was) changed quickly into freezing cold winds as soon as the sun silhouette had disappeared under the horizon. Damn how cold it was! A few minutes later we gathered at the bus and rode back to San Pedro de Atacama. Back in my suite at the hotel I started to pack down my things in the bags. All clothes had dried up now here in San Pedro so I didn’t have to worry about getting my clothes damaged due to damp during my journey back home.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Chile Tagged atacama_desert moon_valley Comments (0)

Allt for this time...

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Spoiled myself with another sleep-in this very last day in San Pedro and moreover Chile. I was a little sad to leave yet nice to get back home again. Ate breakfast at 8am and later went back to my room to pack everything down in my bags and since I had found my portable baggage scale again I could weigh-in my baggage to be sure to avoid going over the maximum weight limit. Check-out from the hotel was at 11am and I paid for the massage with all the Chilean pesos I had left and the rest with my credit card. It’s always nice to get rid of cash in currency that you can’t use back home. My transfer back to Calama and El Loa Airport was scheduled at 11.30am and a young Chilean man showed up to pick me up. I don’t remember his name but he was very nice and spoke well English. He had been working in New Zeeland for a year and therefore spoke well English. Chilean citizens can file for working visas in countries like New Zeeland, Canada, Germany and Denmark (if I remember correct). When I told him I would love to visit New Zeeland one day he recommended places for me to visit. Unfortunately I don’t remember everything he told me so I should have written that down – that’s me in a nutshell :P

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About an hour later I was back at El Loa Airport in Calama. I checked in my baggage all the way to Madrid (via Santiago) since it was the same flight company (LAN Airlines) and it’s always nice not to care about the baggage. My flight took off at 2.30pm and the weather was as nice and clear as when I arrived a few days earlier. You could see the desert extend underneath and when we started to approach Santiago you could clearly see the smog started to appear and stood out as a dark foggy shadow. Had I really been breathing that air for a week!? After descending through all smog and clouds the airplane landed at a rainy and gloomy Santiago Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport at 4.35pm. Even though I didn’t have to claim my baggage I still had to “re-check” myself so to speak and leave my tourist card at the border-control police booth and get a stamp in my passport that I was leaving the country. The line to the passport control was not long but shortly after about 200 people came, so I was lucky to get there in time. The flight from Santiago to Madrid would departure at 6.55pm so now I had plenty of time to buy something to eat, and shopping at Tax-free. I found a box of perfume with 5 small bottles by Calvin Klein… and yes, as a big fan of Calvin Klein I just had to buy it ;) When I sat down at the gate waiting for boarding to start I noticed it was going to be a big Dream Liner Airplane. Nice :) As I like that model. Big and spacey even for economy class. I had managed to get an aisle seat right behind business class so I had extra room for my legs. Great! So now I was looking forward to roughly 12 hours and 40 minutes in the air before landing at Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Chile Tagged cities traveling atacama_desert Comments (0)

Madrid - Berlin - Stockholm

View Chile: the Land of Contrast on bejjan's travel map.

After both dinner and breakfast onboard the flight and some lame attempts to get some sleep the plane descended for landing. I must say time went by so fast… maybe because I was so homesick? At some point over the Atlantic Ocean the date switched from September 4th to September 5th so when I disembarked the plane in Madrid it was already September 5th and time was 1.25pm. Dizzy, tired in both body and mind I had to find the baggage claim but I just had to follow everyone else, taking the underground train from T4-S and back to T4, pass the passport control and then find the right baggage belt. It felt like forever until my bag came and the heat inside the airport was horrible. Now, dragging my bags along, I had to find the check-in desks for Berlin Airlines and that wasn’t easy. But I finally found them way back in a lonely corner.

The check-in opened up at 3pm and my flight took off at 5.45pm. After 2 hours and 55 minutes I landed in Berlin at 8.40pm for a short stop-over and a change of flight. My next flight to Stockholm took off at 9.25pm and even though it was the same company for both flights I had to run across the entire airport… I barely made it. But let me just be clear that I had over an hour to change flights when I originally booked these flights but for some reason they had changed the time schedule just a month before my trip. Ha, so next time (if I travel via Berlin) I’ll be sure to have more than an hour to change. It was fantastic that both my bags and I made it on the last flight back to Stockholm. So at 10.40pm I disembarked the last flight at Stockholm Arlanda Airport and could happily state that everything went well in the end. Checked in at Radisson Blu Sky City to rest and sleep for the car trip back home tomorrow… well needed since you definitely weren’t fit enough to drive home straight after 19 hours of flight.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Chile Tagged traveling Comments (0)

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