Monday, February 27, 2012

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Monday, August 13, 2007

San Pedro de Atacama

Like a whirlwind my time in Chile is coming to an end and I realize that I have not been keeping up with my postings - shame on me! I am actually flying back to the US today, but fearing that things will get even more chaotic once I get there I have decided to at least post a few pictures.

This first set is from a weekend trip to "the driest place on earth" the Atacama desert, situated about 1,300KM north of Santiago. Atacama was on my "must visit" list for Chile and I was not disappointed -- it is for sure the most interesting place I have been to in Chile. Why? I guess because it is a kind of landscape I have never seen anywhere else - although truthfully it is not one landscape, but rather a series of amazingly diverse and unique landscapes all located within ~100KM of the little town of San Pedro. I would have liked to have spent 4-5 days here in order to see them all, but alas this is a working stay! But we did get to see quite a few and below are some of the highlights:

The church in San Pedro, notice the detached bell tower something they used to do in this region to respect local customs of female/masculine deities.

Salar de Atacama -- a lagoon in the middle of a salt field.

Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley)

Valle de la Luna Sunset.

Atacama Cacti.

Team Endeavor at a local San Pedro hot spot - they had a huge open fireplace so for once it was actually hot -- this is at the end of the day that we began at 6AM, minus 12 Celcius, at 4,300 meters in order to see a geyser field at its sunrise best.

Entering Valle de Marte or Muerte...

Beautiful views everywhere

Local friends: Llamas!

Leaving the valley on Sunday night we had one of the most beautiful sunsets i have ever seen - unfortunately taking pictures out of the window of a moving bus doesn't really work that well.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Elqui Valley & La Serena

Monday the 16th was another public holiday in Chile, meaning time for another trip! This time a road trip about 500KM north of Santiago to the coastal town of La Serena and to the Elqui Valley, known for its "spiritual energies", observatories and hippies! The latter in particular won my heart over, because it reminded my of all the crazy, happy people back in Berkeley and because it was everything that grey-clad Santiago is not. Elqui Valley, and in particular its little main town Pisco Elqui are now officially my favorite places in Chile :)

Entering Elqui Valley

Tololo Observatory

Gema, Carlos and our gem of a miniature rental car

View from Tololo

The Elqui Valley is famous for its very dark and clear skies and is thus home to several international observatories. These are only open for visits during the day, as they are used for research at night, nonetheless we decided to tour one of them, Tololo, and the tour was well worth it for the beautiful views provided from the top of the mountain that the observatory is located on. At night we did visit the small Mammalluca observatory that has been built especially for tourist visitors, so we did get the chance to enjoy extraordinarily clear views of the milky way, the southern cross and even 4 of Jupiter's moons!

We spent a bit of time (unfortunately not enough!) hiking around the valley during the day as well, enjoying the views and the dry desert colors that just kept getting better as the day came to a close.


First stars are coming out, if you find Venus in this picture you win a prize!

Finally, The Elqui Valley is also known as the home of Pisco (the spirit), so we did go on the obligatory tour of the Capel Pisco distillery and had the distinct pleasure of making friends with Ruperto, Capel's token pisco donkey... (more pictures of that may follow later).

Our Pisco Elqui CabaƱa, night sky views from the deck included

The Valley, which in summer, during the wine growing season, is covered in green.

The mandatory flower shot - love those colors!