Thanks to Mr Luigi Farnelli , Italy
27 July 2019
27 July 2019
Arrival at the airport in Calama
Arrival at the airport in Calama where Gabriele welcomes us and takes us to San Pedro de Atacama, visiting the Valle de Marte and the Valle de la Luna. We are immediately amazed by the fantastic desert landscape and the particular geological formations. It seems to have landed on an alien planet. Happy to be in South America, we dedicate the evening to a tasty dinner of grilled meat and Chilean red wine in the pretty center of San Pedro de Atacama.
28 July 2019
San Pedro de Atacama, Licancabur volcano, Laguna Blanca, Laguna Verde and Laguna Colorada
After a good breakfast the driver comes to pick us up and we start the steep road that goes up the slopes of the Licancabur volcano. In an hour or so we are at the Chile-Bolivia border of Hito-Cajon. Hurried up the paperwork, we abandon the Chilean minivan and the asphalt road to get on a powerful Bolivian off-road vehicle driven by Javier who will accompany us for the next few days along the dusty dirt tracks of the plateau. The impact with the landscape of very colorful barren lands, lagoons and blue sky is immediately impressive. Even the climate becomes more rigid. We start the day immediately by visiting the Laguna Blanca and the nearby Laguna Verde, partly frost and admiring the Licancabur volcano that we will go up the following day. We continue along valleys surrounded by kaleidoscopic hills skirting the Salvador d ‘Alì desert. After an excellent lunch prepared by Javier, who turned out to be a great driver, prepared guide and excellent cook, we relax in a thermal pool on the shores of the Chalviri lagoon, with a view that diminish the most luxurious infinity pools in the world. We visit the geyser complex Sol de Manana and the splendid Laguna Colorada with countless vicunas and flamingos enriching its waters with a surreal color. Finally we return to the Laguna Blanca Refuge at the foot of the Licancabur to spend the night.
29 July 2019
Ascension on the Licancabur volcano
The short, cold night went under cover in the sleeping bag and under the heavy blankets. Wake up at 2:30, breakfast and off-road to reach the slopes of the volcano. We are impressed by the starry sky. One has a vision of the celestial vault almost at 180 degrees. Without lights or moonlight and with the clear sky looking upwards it almost seems to be in space. The Milky Way is above us and crosses the sky in all its length. Never seen anything like it even in the best nights in the Alps. Even my friend Fabio has the same feeling. At 4 we start walking following a young boy who guides us on ascension. The cold wind is felt and also the breath becomes labored due to the altitude. We witness a breathtaking sunrise, seeing from above the underlying lagoons and we reach the top on which we stop only the necessary for some photos and to admire the view, given that the cold is intense. We go down quickly hopping in the gravel and we reach the jeep where Javier has patiently waited for us. After lunch we spend some relaxing moments immersed in hot thermal waters and finally we head to our lodging for the night near the Laguna Colorada.
30 July 2019
Salar de Uyuni
After breakfast we leave to continue the tour of the lagoons towards the Salar de Uyuni. The night was very cold, so much so that the water in the jeep radiator froze. A bit of a thrill when the engine started smoking in the middle of the desert. In this case our guide Javier has also revealed himself to be an effective mechanic. In half an hour the off-road vehicle was in perfect shape and led us to the salar de Uyuni passing through valleys and deserts where we admired the Arbor de Pietra, the Ramaditas, Honda, Chiar Khota and Hedionda lagoons, with lots of flamingos, and a cave , recently discovered, with fantastic rock formations. Once on the famous salt desert the excitement is great. We’ve been waiting for this moment for years and the view is almost surreal. The jumps of the desert tracks vanish and leave room for a fluid, fast and straight run that soon brings us to the Incahuasi island with its huge cacti. After having visited it we set off for the small village of Jirira, at the foot of the Tunupa volcano, where we will spend the night. On the way we stop in the middle of the salar for the classic funny photos that you can do in these places without reference points, apart from an infinite line, perfectly flat, that separates the white of the salt from the blue of the sky. Arrived almost at the foot of the volcano the sun begins to fall and Javier launches a fantastic idea: aperitif at sunset on the salar. Potato chips and coca cola directly from the floor of the trunk of the Toyota admiring the unforgettable colors of the sunset on the salar. Surely one of those memories that remain etched for life.
31 July 2019
After the experience of the sunset, in the morning I decide to get up very early in order to walk the 2 km that separate the salar from our hotel, so as to enjoy the view at dawn. Getting out of the warm blankets in the chill of the night is not easy, but I’m probably here only once in my life, so no laziness. Good choice. Arrival on the salar which is still night and the panorama of the stalled sky that ends very low on the horizon is priceless. I suffer a little cold, but I await the dawn with its fantastic colors, alone, on the immense white expanse. Another unforgettable moment. We start from Jirira, we visit some salt quarries and after 45 minutes of a straight white we take a dirt track that, between villages, herds of llamas and chinoa plantations leads us to the nearby salar de Coipasa. We cross it completely, almost in solitude, contrary to the crowded salar de Uyuni and soon we reach the Chilean border where Victor is waiting for us to continue the tour. Unfortunately, he informs us immediately that the planned route between the mountains and the salar de Surire is impractical due to a recent snowfall. So, after a lunch of chinoa and llama steaks, we begin the long paved road that will take us to Putre late in the evening passing by the desert and the coastal town of Arica. During the trip we visit 2 archaeological sites made up of figures drawn with stones along the sides of hills, very similar to the most famous Nazca lines. Victor also shows off his profound culture by explaining the many aspects of the history, culture and politics of Chile and neighboring countries with pleasant and detailed digressions on local flora and fauna.