We started our adventure to San Pedro de Atacama via Valle de la Luna. We really enjoyed Valle de la Luna and did it ourselves in our car. We spent over 2 hours in the national park (the entrance fee was $2,500 pesos per person as we got there 5 minutes before 12pm; after 12pm is $3,000 pesos) and found our hostel (Kasa de la Rio) for the night. The hostel cost $18,000 pesos which was a fair bit, considering how much we had been paying for camping. After settling in, we had a massive lunch at Barro restaurant (menu of the day was $4,500 pesos each and we highly recommend it due to the massive portion sizes) and then it started raining! This is meant to be the driest place on earth! It was awesome to see the floods of red water through the town and the delight of the locals. We were too full from lunch so we skipped dinner and just had wine! During the night, our little room leaked a little… Obviously it was not used to the rain!
The next day we got up early to try find an agency to do some tours for that afternoon as we did some research and realised the roads weren’t in good condition and we didn’t want to risk Momo (our car) getting into trouble. We went to a dozen agencies as we wanted to see Laguna Cejar, but found out it is contaminated so we opted for another tour. We went with Tani Tani Travellers and chose two tours; Escondida or the 7 lakes, and Piedras Rojas. In total this cost $86,000 pesos for the two tours for both of us and then an additional $21,000 pesos for both of us for entrances to the National Parks (paid for at the parks). After booking the tours we had an adventure by foot to Pukara de Quitor which was a 3 km walk from town. Along the way, we saw amazing views of the town and Valle de la Muerte. With little time to spare we found a parking lot (our abode for the night which was pretty popular!) and walked into town to meet up for the lakes tour at 3pm. The first and last lake you could swim in, and were so salty you could float (much like Laguna Cejar but hopefully not as contaminated). After walking around the lakes and showering the salt away, we watched the sunset with snacks and pisco sours. There was more thunder, impressive lightning and spits of rain… We’re starting to think it’s not so dry after all!
On our final day, we got up early and as per usual, the van picking us up was late (only by 40 minutes though). We started our day trip at Laguna Chaxa to see flamingos and part of the Salar de Atacama. After this, we stopped in Socaire for breakfast at 10am then ventured to Piedras Rojas. This was absolutely beautiful. A must see when in Atacama. This was situated in Salar de Talar. Our next stop was Lagunas Miscanti and Meñique which reminded us of home with the mountains in the backdrop. We stopped in Socaire again for lunch at 3.30pm and then had a final stop in Toconao to see the oldest church in the area and take selfies with a llama. Along the way we also saw many Vicuñas and wild desert donkeys! On the drive back, once again there was thunder, lightning and rain all the way to Atacama. Three days in a row of rain!