We continued up the valley this morning to the town of Vicuna. Quite a lovely place, clean and tidy with a wonderful main plaza with great old trees. We walked around for a while absorbing the atmosphere and soaking up the sun.
On the way out of town we came across a typical American class C motor-home with Chile plates. I stopped to say hello only to discover that they were having trouble with their house batteries. I could not help much so we said hello and then continued. We saw them on the road later in the day.
From Vicuna we continued up the valley to the town of Monte Grande and then a side valley of the Rio Cochiguas to the town of Cochiguas. The road got progressively narrower until it was nothing more than a track. Cochiguas was not really a town rather a scattered collection of dwellings, hostels, and camping grounds stretching for about 6 kms along the road. The road was given the designation Ruta Ch-487, but that's a bit of a joke as in places we could barely squeeze between the boulders and the trees. As I said, more like a track.
Both the Elqui and Cochiguas valleys were extensively planted with grape vines. All the grape fields had high fences of cloth that stretched from the tops of the vines up into the air about 3 meters. We later learned that these fences served two purposes. First they provided protection from the wind (a function that did not surprise us), but also they cause mist to condense and drip into the soil at the base of the fence thereby watering the vines. Ingenious!
A commercial camping ground, El Arca (the name is on a small very faded sign) on the southern side of Ruta Ch-41. The camp grounds along this road were pretty busy today and we tried a couple before finding space at this one. Some what in need of repair but gave us a place for the night. No electricity. Only one toilet, but a swimming pool.