Friday (Viernes) 28th May, 2010
Day 441

San Pedro De Atacama, Chile
San Pedro De Atacama, Chile
Miles: 44,978
S 22.91321°
W 68.20130°

Our journey today continued across the Andean highlands to San Pedro de Atacama. It's hard to capture the beauty, barrenness and spectacle of the scenery. We travelled at between 4000 and almost 5000 metres (13,000-16,000ft) most of the day, surrounded by higher barren multicolored mountains, the occasional salt pan and little habitation.

The most frequent vehicle encountered were trucks carrying new and used cars from Iquiqui on the Chile coast into Argentina and Paraguay.

The border exit post from Argentina was a forlorn little settlement next to a salt pan at 4500m, wind swept and desolate. I am sure that this is not a highly sought after duty.

About 40 km from San Pedro we found the turn off to Bolivia and the start of the road/trail to Laguna Verde that we would try the next day. Over the past week I have taken a number of GPS way points for the proposed route from Google Earth (what a wonderful service) as I have some doubts about route finding. From what I could see on Google the tracks are rough and in many places vehicles have just made their own tracks - I don't expect road signs.

The drop down into San pedro from the highlands turned out to be another unbelievable South American road. In the space of 20 miles the road drops from 4600m to 2400m. But unlike other steep roads we have encountered this one had no switch backs and very few curves of any substance. Just a 20 mile straight drop. In an effort to help protect the somewhat speed crazed truck drivers there was an emergency run-out filled with gravel about every mile. Even so there were a number of burnt patches of wreckage, testament to the fact that not all runaway trucks can find a run-out.


Same place as the last time we were in San Pedro.