The Chilean Atacama Desert, let a hundred flowers blossom [45/50]

The trip from Uyuni in Bolivia to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile was one of the more adventurous segments of the whole journey as the road was rough and unpaved, through remote Andean towns, past smoking volcanoes and over desolate, barren and lonely landscapes.


This would be the last ride on the moto as after five months, five countries and twelve thousand grueling Andean kilometers, riding over, around, and through one of the world’s great mountain ranges, it was time to move on to something different. Every day on a moto is a very special day; it is the love of life, not the love of fear.

The road from Uyuni, Bolivia to Avaroa on the border. After 12000 Kms this was the last ride in the moto!

San Pedro de Atacama was dull compared to Bolivia, modern, packaged, and processed full of sartorially challenged hedonists on vacation from some backwater of Modernity rather than dignified Andean ladies with short, waddling legs and in cool, timeless hats. The Bolivian desert is far more beautiful than the Chilean Atacama and Antofagasta regions, but if you haven’t been to Bolivia, you will never know the difference (and the desert doesn’t care).

Luna Valley, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

From San Pedro de Atacama I went to Antofagasta, Caldera, and La Serena. Antofagasta is a down-beat mining town on the coast, Caldera is a dystopian-vacation-fantasy of shack-ridden emptiness. La Serena is somewhere in between, lubricated by Pisco Sour, a nice beach and vibrant public spaces (it is actually a large, sophisticated city).

Bottles of Pisco Sour, La Serena (Valle del Elqui)

And when it rains in the Atacama desert, “a hundred flowers blossom” bringing Maoists from all over the world to see the phenomenon. A good spot to see them is around La Serena, Caldera, Copiapo, or Vallenar in the southern Atacama.

Flowers in the Atacama Desert, Chile

I am now in Valparaíso, a very special coastal city in the middle of Chile and quite close to Santiago (I will blog about Valparaíso next). Mount Fitz Roy in Argentina, my final destination, is now only two thousand Andean kilometers away!

Mano del Desierto, 75 kms south of Antofagasta represents loneliness, vulnerability and helplessness

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