Swapping the luxurious restaurants of Valparaiso for a bag of cereal bars, we boarded an 11pm bus for a 25-hour trip north. Our destination, which we finally reached at midnight the following day, was San Pedro de Atacama.
As its full name suggests, San Pedro is smack in the middle of the Atacama desert. And it proved to be a wonderfully different place. We’ve seen some spectacular sights but in some ways, Argentina and Chile haven’t felt that far removed from Europe.
San Pedro, on the other hand, is a true desert outpost. Scorching by day and freezing by night, its dusty, single-storey streets host a mellow mingling of travellers and sun-beaten locals.
San Pedro also marked the end of our time in Chile (we’re subsequently heading north through Bolivia and Peru), but before saying adios we made good use of our time. The town’s surrounded by awesome, otherworldly sights; lunar landscapes, belching geysers, and star-filled skies all joined by the dizzying altitude of the altiplano. Now we’re somewhere very different indeed.