San Pedro de Atacama

Add San Pedro de Atacama, Chile to the list of places that I almost didn’t leave. Much like Minca and Baños, San Pedro is a small town in the middle of nowhere with a plethora of outdoor activities. I’m sensing a theme.

I arrived in San Pedro after the Salt Flats high on the nature that had just surrounded me for three days. San Pedro was an extension of that wonder – more desert, lagoons and volcanoes that looked like another planet. It was amazing to continue seeing this unique land, but it also meant that most of the attractions in San Pedro were repeats of what I had just seen in Bolivia. So I went for the two new, and in my opinion best, activities.

Night one I did what they call the Astrological Tour, aka stargazing. My timing was good since it was still early in the moon’s cycle so we could see more of the sky. We were taken out of town, far away from any lights, and out onto a wooden platform in the middle of a field. In the center of the platform was a large high-power telescope. Through this we were shown individual stars, groups of stars, different colored stars, stars that sparkled like diamonds, and planets. The highlight was supposed to be clearly seeing the rings around Saturn but due to its position in the sky it was pretty blurry; I could just barely make out the rings. After a hot chocolate break our guide used a Burning Man-strength laser to point out galaxies and constellations. Because we’re in the southern hemisphere the sky is so different from what I grew up with. I had never seen the southern cross, nor had I seen the two smaller galaxies that accompanied the Sagittarius leg of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Did you know the Milky Way has 8 arms but we can only see two from Earth? It was a very educational, and beautiful, night.

The next day was my adventure day. I went Sandboarding, and I absolutely loved it. I have added to my potential future plans becoming a sandboarding instructor in San Pedro de Atacama. Sandboarding here is literally strapping on a snowboard and helmet and riding down a massive sand dune. The walk back up to the top is a pain in the ass, but every run down was a fresh reminder of why I wanted to go back up. With each run I got progressively higher up the dune, ending with a steep, fast descent to the canyon floor. It. Was. Awesome. It didn’t hurt that the view was pretty incredible too. This is definitely one of my favorite things I’ve done this trip so far. I also had my GoPro strapped to my helmet so I’ll hopefully post a video soon.

After sandboarding they took us to this overlook for sunset and pisco sours. Of all the sunsets I’ve seen in the past 3 months, I think this one might be on top. It was breathtaking.

The rest of my time in San Pedro was spent hanging out with awesome people – on my sandboarding adventure, other guests at my hostel, and the hostel employees and owner. I’m not surprised that people who visit San Pedro never want to leave; I was almost one of them. That Saturday night I ended up out at a local house party with some of the hostel employees. It was a long night with way too much pisco but it was a ton of fun. The next day I nursed my hangover at the hostel, eating lunch with the same group from the night before, and I saw how this could actually be my life. It was sad to leave that night, but like other places before I didn’t say goodbye, only that I would return one day.

 

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