Chile Day 8 – San Pedro di Atacama

Chile is such a long and varied country. I went from the green tones and blue glaciers of Patagonia to one of the driest deserts in the world, that of San Pedro di Atacama.

desert

San Pedro is a tourist mecca for hikers, backpackers and people coming from northern Argentina or making their way to Peru and Bolivia. I was perfectly happy to spend some time in San Pedro, despite packs of rangy dogs roaming the streets. Someone mentioned that they only bit gringos or tourists so I pretended I was Chilean.

valle-della-luna

Among the most popular trips from this area are a sunset visit to the natural wonders of the Valle del la luna and the Valle del la Muerte. The wind has shaped these beautiful valleys and as the sun sets, they take on brown and purple hues. It reminded me of the sand paintings I used to make when I was young. There were no guard rails along the trails and the wind was pretty strong but the view was just breathtaking. I was glad I had not yet had any wine that day but was looking forward to my first glass before my night trip to look at the stars and the moon.

A top draw in San Pedro is also a night time Astronomy class taught by a French Astronomer. He takes around 25 people at a time on a trip to his home to look through his gigantic telescopes.

sun-setting

Before my night trip, I went out for dinner with friends and had the best wine yet on my trip. It was from the Limari Valley. I highly recommend this wine, the Vina Casa Tamaya Carmenere Reserva 2007 that I drank at a local restaurant. After such an exciting day, this wine and the delicious steak we had with it were a welcome addition.

tamaya-reserva

The wine showed black fruits, spice, vanilla, smoke and pepper notes on the nose and on the palate. It had good structure, firm tannins and a long, persistent finish. It was a perfect end to a lovely day. The night sky awaited me and I was ready.

San Pedro is one of the clearest places in the world to study the night sky. You also get to see stars that we never see in the northern hemisphere such as the Southern Cross. Most countries with a serious astronomy program have telescopes in this area of Chile.

the-moon-photo-taken-from-a-telescope1

This shot of the moon was taken through the astronomer’s telescope. Pretty cool…Pictures will give you a hint of what I was lucky enough to see but there’s nothing like being there.

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