Day 23 - Tue 24 Apr 07 - San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Had some very weird dreams last night, and woke up at 03:20 wide awake gasping for breath. I think I'd used all the air up in the room, so I got up and opened the window. Before I got back to sleep I had a lot of thoughts going around my head with no real link between them, but I remember thinking that I couldn't be going mad, because if were then I wouldn't be thinking that I'm not going mad - obvious really..
Up at 07:15 for my 08:00 tour which has exactly the same people on it as yesterdays! Our first stop is to see the salt flats, were we get to see a video in the visitors centre and then a walk out onto the flats to see some flamingoes. The landscape is unlike the salt flats I've seen before - it's very rough. There are mountains and volcanoes all around, and some are sending smoke or steam into the sky!
From there we head into the hills and climb & climb & climb, but there is always some sort of vegetation even up at 4,500m there are clumps of grasses. At the highest point we reach there are two incredibly blue lakes, it bitterly cold with a good wind blowing, but and incredible sight.
I'm drinking my coca tea, and I'm feeling a bit light headed, but other than that okay. We head down to Socaire a small village with a population of 125 who mostly work in the nearby mines and have lunch there and a quick look around the place. Onward and download, and we stop to observe an optical illusion. The road looks like it's going up hill, but as our driver demonstrates with his engine turned off, it is in fact going down hill.
We also stop next to a marker just off the road, our guide doesn't explain what it is, but as we approach it I work out that it's the marker for the Tropic of Capricorn! There's also evidence of an Inca trail heading off into the distance. Another stop at another village to see a beautiful little church and some Llama's.
By the time I get back to San Pedro de Atacama I have a headache, so I have a bit of a snooze, and then head out at 20:00 to plan my trip for tomorrow. Feeling rough, so head back to the hotel, but realise that I need some water. So I make up some coca tea and begin to feel a bit better. Get some provisions. I've decided not to do the Bolivia trip - it's a bit too much of a leap into the unknown. I'll see if I can take the bus to Arica the day after tomorrow rather than flying. That would get me to Peru a few days earlier than I planned.