Atacama desert

There are unfortunately limited choices for active tours at this hotel, mostly due to the stormy weather but also due to the predominantly sedentary clientele. Rusty chose to relax before our long journey home tomorrow. I heard the magic words ‘sand dune’ and joined a tour to the ‘Mars valley’. The ‘hike’ could have been completed in about 10 mins but the other two guests turned it into a tedious snail’s pace photographic extravaganza.The views were pretty spectacular though

The volcano in the background is the ‘people’s mountain’ and there was a great view of it today from the hotel

Meanwhile back on the slowest walk ever, I got to do one of my favourite things...

Sadly I won’t get to climb a volcano, but it was worth coming to Atacama for the incredible light, the bike ride through the salt flats and the woohoo trot down a dune.  I’m really not looking forward to the 24 hours of travelling to get home but oh my goodness, Chile has been so worth it. Thanks to Hannah and Frankie for the i…

Biking happiness

The one thing missing from this holiday has been a bike and I was very happy to finally get to pedal today! It was a 19 mile mountain bike ride into the salt flats so not exactly hilly but very bumpy, not good for Rusty’s poor neck but he did it 😃 I felt a bit like a dodgy politician who bikes to work followed by an environmentally damaging big car. The driver followed us all the way to Tebenquiche lagoon and then drove us back to the hotel - apparently cycling back wasn’t an option!

Spotted a flamingo ✅ 
The afternoon was a repeat of yesterday - lunch, snooze then yoga - ommmm with added drama from a dry thunderstorm!

Tierra Atacama

We are currently at 2425m so getting to sleep last night was a bit of a challenge, not helped by the dreaded whine of a hungry mosquito. We still have the industrial strength ‘Peaceful Sleep’ repellant from Namibia which deters anything in the area including humans, so that was liberally applied at 4am.Neither of us fancied doing the group tour thing this morning so we wandered into ‘town’ before it got too hot. It’s a scruffy interesting place, a dusty oasis with a ridiculous number of tiny tour operator offices.

The hotel is beautifully designed with traditional materials and a few surprising plants in the garden.

Pretty good place to sit around doing not a lot. After a long lunch and a lovely snooze, I went to a yoga class. As the rest of the hotel guests seemed to have gone on a tour to see a flamingo, I had a one to one class with Matteus, a rather zen yogic bunny. It was one of those classes where one has to chant and breathe like a lion, I managed not to get the giggles even when…

Off to Atacama

There is no escaping the vast distances to travel in Chile, so the journey started with a 5 hour bumpy, bum numbing drive to Balmaceda airport. The morning light on the lake was gorgeous. 

We said goodbye to the utterly filthy tank and thanked him for not suffering any punctures. Balmaceda airport appeared to be chaos but was surprisingly efficient, the plane left on time and the luggage actually appeared in Santiago! This evening’s view isn’t quite the same...  The airport Holiday Inn was efficient and comfortable so we had a good dinner and sleep then a 5 minute walk to yet another check in queue. Definitely too much time in airports and too many backpackers who seem to have run out of deodorant. The view from the plane changed drastically...

My suitcase decided it wanted to come on a later flight from Santiago but this has to be the best customer service ever from an airline - I love Chile!
After yet another drive through some impressive scenery, we finally arrived at the hotel.

I wasn’t …

Walkies and relaxing at Mirador Guadal

This lodge is by far my favourite of the trip so far and it would be very easy to spend the day relaxing, listening to the waves on the lake lapping and staring at the incredible view.
But obviously there is a big hill that needed to be climbed, through a beautiful forest and up to 1400m

On the way we saw a black headed eagle, lots of ibis, some cows and a gaucho with his horses
It was a hard climb which is just what Rusty loves to do

Above the tree line was a fossil filled plateau from when the Atlantic deposited sea shells millions of years ago

The views were incredible with a 360 degree view of mountains

Brief attempt at romance...
Then back to the lodge for the relaxation part of the day (and packing again). There are no words... But oh wow

Leones glacier

A beautiful view from the bed at 6.30am 

Another day, another glacier... but oh my goodness what a glacier!
We went on a speed boat across the lake

And then up the river bumping along the rapids with an occasional soaking
Then a 45 minute walk being attacked by mosquitos and horse flies, followed by a 30 minutes in another speedboat across a glacial lagoon towards the Leones glacier.
As lumps fell off, there was a dramatic booming, cracking sound and mini icebergs floated off
It was the best picnic site ever but 4 1/2 hours sitting on a sun baked rock murdering horse flies was a tad too much of a good thing! Lots and lots of photos were taken..

The guide had disappeared with the boat whilst we baked on the rock and I was getting mildly concerned about spending a night next to a glacier! Eventually the boat came round the corner, apparently some mountain climbers were in trouble and we had to pick them up to give them a lift across the lagoon - the little boat got a bit crowded.. The left over …