We moved a bit further north along the coast - to Antofagasta. During the transfer we were contemplating the ascents of volcanoes around San Pedro de Atacama.
A visit to the European Southern Observatory El Paranal, located 160kms south of Antofagasta, should have made up for a special chapter in our southern American logbook. But it was not to be. It was necessary to hire wheels, since the place is rather remote. We found a rental company that suited our budget but the devil was in credit card. Our card somehow failed to meet the high demands of local dealers and so we had to say our farewells to El Paranal and left with tears in the eyes. :-(
We left this hostile area broken by the row of setbacks. Having four blank days ahead of us before the arrival of Eva and Milena we opted for the Atacamas touristiest spot - San Pedro - as the only remedy to our misery.
We bought our first PACKAGE the very day after arrival - an excursion to the Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley). At about 4 p.m. we were already sitting in a comfortable air-conditioned jeep and were set to discover the beauties of the surrounding desert. We had a break every ten minutes, just to comfortably shoot our pictures and make videos. The trip culminated by the sunset watching at the top of a sand dune. The only inconvenience was the strong wind making the sand whirl in the air and fondle with the sensitive electronics and optics our equipment. But all the instruments did their job in spite of all the squeaking.
There was a religious fiesta on show in the evening with some six groups dancing at Plaza de Armas. Drums and brass - it was a noisy fair.
We headed for Bolivia the nest day in order to test our fortune that hasn't too been busy with us so far. We chose a 5960m-high volcano Licancabur. But we will describe those three days next time ...
In the evening of 4 February, back in San Pedro, we welcome Eva and Milena to our team. We ordered another PACKAGE for all for the very next morning, at 3 a.m.! The world's highest geyser field. El Tatio.
The morning veiled in mist offered us a splendid background for enjoying the splashing geysers in the rising sun. We took a bath in the thermal lake and were careful to document the whole day properly.
We've got another travel voucher ready in the pocket - a three-day trip around the Bolivian altiplano.