To enter Chile from Bolivia via the gringo trail, most take the Uyuni Salt Flats tour into San Pedro de Atacama, which is exactly what I did. So what kind of changes did I notice when I entered Chile? Well for one, my wallet started really hurting! Chile is effing expensive, especially San Pedro de Atacama. But it was also very clean and the vibes were muy tranquilo. Buena onda is a common expression here is Chile, meaning good vibrations. Most of the locals were either well-dressed hipster types or colorful rag-clad hippies. Either way, I rarely spoke to a local without being offered to sample the local ganja (Hola brother, fumas weed?).
But for better or worse, in this case the buena onda also brought with it lots of organic restaurants and upscale hostels, great catalysts for city-wide price hikes. Luckily my five fellow Uyuni trekkers and I found a good restaurant shack at the edge of city limits. Still, I was paying twice as much as my cheap Bolivian meals there.
I splurged day two to accompany the group for a day in their rented RV swimming in a heftily chilled turquoise salt lake where it was impossible not to float, which was hilarious and very relaxing once we got used to the temperature. That night we had a wild drive through Chile’s Valle de la Luna (much more impressive than that of La Paz) followed by a night under the stars (this region of Chile is widely regarded as some of the best star-gazing in the world, I saw 4 shooters in 15 minutes). The RV we rented is basically my dream machine, really my dream home. It had a full kitchen, tons of storage space, and a fold out tent on the roof, where I slept.
Ignore the black dot at the top of each picture, according to professional photographer Jakob Anderson, there is dust on my sensor and I forgot to edit it out.
Day 3 I said a tough goodbye to my new friends and rented a mountain bike, shredding some gnar inside The Devil’s Gulch about 5 miles outside the city. I really pushed the limits of hydration and leg strength in this desert valley, but I had a helluva good time and made it back just in time to hit my favorite food shack for lunch.
That night was a strange, laid back night CouchSurfing. My host was very gracious, he fed me and picked me up from town on his motor-scooter. I’ll save the details for good friends!
An early wake up the next morning put me on the bus that I am now riding trying to figure out which transfers I must make in order to get to Bahía Inglesa, “the Caribbean of Chile.”