Having made it through the Bolivian Border we met our ‘fixer’ who took us through the Chilean border. The Chilean border has a reputation for being very tough; and that absolutely was true – everything was taken off the bus and thoroughly checked, although none of us had any problems.
We soon were waved through the border and were officially in Chile!
The scenery was pretty much the same as Bolivia; vast expanses, views of the volcanoes in the background, llamas crossing in front of the cars. The one main difference however? We now had proper tarmacked roads which was a joy.
After about a half an hour drive, we soon arrived in the small town of San Pedro de Atacama and made our way to our hotel. We were greeted in reception by Camilo who was going to be our guide right up to Rio. We all got checked in (I had my own room this time which was a dream), unpacked, and had quick showers before all meeting up and going for a bit of a wander around the town.
San Pedro is a tiny little place with only one main street filled to the brim with souvenir stalls, restaurants and tourist guide shops. We all commented that we felt like we had been transported into a country and western movie set. The town consists of sand filled narrow streets, gorgeous mud houses proudly displaying the Chilean flag and more dogs snoozing out on the street then you could shake a stick at. The town really was beautiful, particularly with the volcano looming over in the distance.
There’s a really fun atmosphere to San Pedro; it has an almost hippy vibe to it, with dreadlocked street vendors selling homemade jewellery and art out on rugs in the sun. One thing to note, it’s in no way cheap here. Not at all. I guess this is the problem with a town like this being only place for tourists in the area – you’re a captive audience and they can charge what they like, and trust me – they do. It honestly was a bit of a culture shock having come straight from some of the cheapest towns in Bolivia.
Having wandered around for a little bit, we all decided it was well and truly lunch time. We ended up going to this nice little courtyard restaurant called Adobe. I had brown sugar glazed chicken which was absolutely delicious (particularly having been living off quinoa and ritz crackers the past week or so!)
We then decided to hit the shops, however on realising how expensive things were we quickly gave up on this and instead opted to try our some of the town’s gelato. It was delicious.
As the afternoon drew in, we headed back to the hotel; some people had naps, others sat out by the pool and chatted; it was a super easy afternoon and exactly what we needed.
That evening, it was the Conor McGregor v Khabib fight and we all basically planned our evening around watching that. Elle, Grace, Beks and I decided to head out first for some drinks and food and actually ended up making the most of our hotel restaurant’s happy hour. We sat out with cocktails and empanada before being joined by Blake and the guys who happily finished off our leftovers.
Having eaten we headed to the bar to meet up with the rest of the group. The pub was absolutely rammed so a few of us had to share a table with some Ecuadorian travellers who were absolutely lovely, and who we enjoyed swapping our travel tales with. It definitely helped that the beer kept flowing.
Ultimately, the evening was so much fun, but a bit of a disaster on the fight front. We had thought the fight was meant to start at 10 however it was actually 1am… Then, after the first round of the fight the bar owner switched off the television and told us all to leave! Literally everyone was fuming after spending so much time (and money) at the bar waiting for the fight. It was awful!
That pretty much brought our short but sweet trip to San Pedro de Aticama to an end as we would be boarding the 12 hour bus to Salta, Argentina tomorrow!