South America | Chile | La Serena – La Serena

South America | Chile | La Serena – La Serena

Tuesday 1st May

After 5 nights of playing cards while wrapped in blankets, a bit of warm weather was high on the agenda. La Serena then, in the Norte Chico region. The capital of its region and city of 107,000, is found on the pacific coast. At first sight, the city is quite unattractive and a little intimidating. Repair works are in progress throughout and business owners are out in force, fighting a seemingly losing battle against the graffiti artists. On closer inspection, the town has an abundance of attractive colonial buildings, and a church for every day of the week!

Although one of Chile{s top beach resorts, it’s a fair old hike from the town centre to the beach front and bizarrely, there are no buses serving the route. The beach is a breath of fresh air – no sun loungers for hire, no endless row of tacky bars, no high rise hotels. Of course, there are bars, there are restaurants and there are hotels, but the landscape is relatively unspoilt. Hector did manage to find a place to watch the Champions{League semi-fianl on sky TV though, so everything was OK.

We were determined to have a day at the beach, so despite the cool weather, we did just that. I was sunbathing in a jumper, but I fulfilled the aim of the day! We even managed an incredibly brief dip in the ocean and discovered why there was no-one else in it. Boy it was cold.

Thursday 3rd May

After another loooong coach trip, San Pedro de Atacama is definitely a sight for sore eyes. An oasis village in the heart of the Atacama desert, where the pace of life is certainly sleepy. I’m not even scared of the dogs here since they’re all asleep or basking in the sun. Warm days at last!

The village is very much on the Gringo Trail, which is something of a shame. The town has been all but swallowed by tourism. That said, the adobe houses remain (albeit that they are now home to tour agencies) and the town apparently hasn’t changed too much – it’s hardly Vegas!

The agencies offer tours to the nearby Salar de Atacama, the El Tatio Geysers and the Valle de la Luna. Although I am exhausted from the bus trip, I sign up for a tour to the Salar. The original idea was to go from here to bolivia by train and take in the more impressive Salar de Uyuni, but the trains run once a week and we have just missed one, so I’ll have to settle for the Salar de Atacama.

Having seen photos of Uyuni, the trip´was a little disappointing. It’s a very peaceful place and certainly afforded a few Kodak moments. But an hour of the desert sun beating down on me was more than enough and I was glad when Enrique, our guide herded us back onto the minibus.

Before returning to San Pedro, we made a brief detour to the even smaller village of Tocanao (550 inhabitants). It’s a brief stop indeed since you can see the whole village in 10 minutes!! I think in retrospect it would have been better to hike or bike the 15km instead of paying for a tour, but by now you know how lazy I am!!

Category : South America | Chile | La Serena , Uncategorized