Termas De Puritima and Valle De Luna
After 10 days in Bolivia, we made it to San Pedro De Atacama, Chile. It is a small desert town filled with tourists coming and going from Southern Chile to Bolivia. We stayed in a great airbnb steps away from the main road. The town is small but loud and it seems anything goes. The main reason people spend any amount of time in this expensive tourist trap is because the surrounding area is worth seeing. The town is PACKED with tourist agencies who will take you to and from these attractions. There are no taxis in this area so unless you fancy bike riding or walking through the desert, the tours are your only option. Since there are so many options, the agencies will lower their prices to get you to book with them. Andrew is very good at fighting for a reasonable price so we were able to book 2 tours at a good cost. Thanks Andrew!
Termas De Puritima:
Our first tour was to the Puritama Hot Springs. After sitting in a jeep for 3 days straight and walking around the desert every day, I couldn’t wait to relax. My muscles needed these hot springs. We arrived to a GIANT canyon and at the bottom of it, there are a series of eight geothermal pools. First off, the scenery is breathtaking. Andrew and I joked that at home in California, this would be a $100 or more experience. The pools vary in temperature so we started at the bottom, which was the coolest pool. There are bathrooms, changing rooms and picnic tables. I immediately sighed in comfort when we entered the first pool. What a fantastic experience this was! The water is fresh and to my surprise, the place wasn’t as packed as I expected. After soaking in a few pools, we ate lunch and then wandered into another pool. By now, people were starting to leave so we had the last pool completely to ourselves for a bit. I highly recommend this experience if you have an extra day in San Pedro De Atacama. Just remember to relax, breathe in the fresh air and wear sunblock. Andrew got a gnarly shoulder sunburn here!
Valle De Luna:
We visited Valley of the Moon in Bolivia so we knew we wanted to visit the Chilean valley. I am so glad we did because the Chilean valley is MUCH bigger. We took a tour into the park and after paying an admission fee, we entered the park. I had no idea the valley was located in a national park! Our first stop on the tour was exploring caves. We were able to run around and climb up on top of the caves. Andrew loves doing this!
The next point of interest was to climb up, up, up and view the giant dunes from above. It was a hot hike but the view was worth it. I have never seen sand dunes of this size before in my life so my jaw dropped. I love the way sand looks so untouched. After a tour longer than anticipated, we arrived to the main reason we booked this experience in the first place. It was time for sunset at valley of the moon. With hundreds of other sunset lovers, we found a place on the rocks and got ready. The sun started to set and it was magnificent. The entire valley below quickly began to change from warm to cool colors. Just as quickly, the sunset show ended and we headed back into town.
These two tours were worth the money and time but there were plenty of other options of experiences from San Pedro De Atacama. I noticed a popular choice was a lagoon that you could swim and float in. We chose the hot springs over this but it did look fun!
My tips and suggestions:
- Everything is expensive in San Pedro De Atacama. There is no avoiding these costs so if you plan to stay here, add it to your budget. This airbnb was the most expensive of all of them for us!
- It is HOT so after being in Peru and Bolivia, it was quite the adjustment. We finally got to wear shorts and tank tops. Bring water everywhere you go.
- It is extremely dusty here. All the roads are not paved so dust flies anytime a bike or car or even a dog passes by. It didn’t affect my asthma too badly.
- The bus station is walking distance from town. This was excellent since we had to walk there on our last day to leave.
- Shop around the tour agencies before settling on a tour and price. They all offer THE SAME TOURS so make sure you get the lowest cost. We found that if you show up the morning of the tour and they are not booked, they will gladly offer you a lower price than advertised.