Today, Wednesday 18th February 2015, we fly to Calama. It takes one and half hour from Santiago. All goes straight forward. Taxi is arranged by the hotel reception, 25.000 CLP for all four of us. At Calama airport we get our nearly new 4WD car, 4.000 km on the speedometer. From there another one and half hour drive to San Pedro de Atacama.
1 Euro = 700 $ CLP
1 US Dollar = 620 $ CLP
San Pedro lies in the middle of the desert, about 120 km to the Argentinian border and in an altitude of 2.400 m. It has become a centre for desert tourism. The town has approx. 2.200 inhabitants and the multiple of mainly young backpackers. It offers a variety of accomodations and restaurants catering for the visitors. Many travel agencies in town sell tours to local attractions, trekking, climbing and several days trips to Bolivia and Argentinia. There are also many souvenir, jewelery and artisan shops.
The one storey houses in town are basic, rib-roofed and painted with dirty brown sand color. Most of the streets are not tarmaced, not even in the centre, and the Pick-ups and 4WD cars leave a cloud of dirt behind when passing by. There is a bus terminal serving several bus companies which bring many travellers daily into town. Until late night the centre is overcrowded by visitors. From 8 pm onwards the temperature gets cooler, down to 8-9°c from 28-29°C at day time.
In Estrella negra, Caracoles street, we find our favorite restaurant: Vegetarian empanada, freshly made with wholemeal pastry and salad side dish. Delicious, low price and friendly staff.