Thursday, May 19, 2011

Colors of the Atacama

La Serena
Our last few days in La Serena were very relaxing thanks to our wonderful host, Cristian.


We cooked a lot in these few days: pumpkin soup, potatoes and chard (Shoham´s family´s recipe), filled tomatoes, rosemary roasted potatoes (Amit´s family recipe), bread, carbonated apple cake, a huge fruit salad and a delicious almonds and (imported) chocolate tart.


We cooked so much that it was enough for the 3 of us for 3 days. On our spare time we had a nice walk on the beach next to the famous light tower.


The beach dogs got wild, and this mixed wonderfully with the huge birds flocks with the background of an astonishing sunset.


Missed Penguins
We left La Serena in the afternoon and managed to cycle 50 km before camping beneath the road. After a long winding road that ascended very slowly, we finally got to the top, and from there it was very easy to get to El Trapiche. At the northern entrance you would find Gary and his great meat Empanadas in this nice Posada (a road inn). He was very kind and even let us do our dished in his sink. His restaurant got a free photovoltaic panel as part of a national project to raise awareness for renewable energy usage. Not far from there we also saw a wind power-plant.


There we met a local guy who recognized us from the road he ride on every day. He offered to drive us to the village Caleta Punta Choros, where we could take the organized boat tour to the Humboldt penguin island (8,000 CH$). We had to refuse as this is a bit expensive, too far, and we have already seen these penguins near Punta Arenas. We bought boiled eggs for dinner and camped far from the road in an old quarry.

Sick of Climbing 
At night Amit started feeling sicker and sicker. Therefore, after a 2 hour climb we had to stop for a half an hour Siesta. We found an exceptionally bad restaurant near the turn to Domeyko. That was the worst meal we had in Chile. We left the restaurant hungry, and to make up for it we ate a lot of cookies. Luckily, after another seemingly endless climb, we had a long descend all the way to the nice town of Vallenar.


We slept next to the Petrobras gas station, in the orchard of Gonzalo, and took a shower at the gas station (500 CH$).

Ghost Towns
We were happy to leave the busy Ruta 5 for a road that led towards the coast. Unfortunately we got delayed by another flat tire caused by our last silicon strap that is supposed to prevent flat tires. After we finished fixing it, we got quickly to Freirina, the last decent town in the upcoming days. There Amit got a bad hair cut and we had the chance to visit a photography exhibition entitled "Colors of the Atacama", which was just a nice photos show of the Atacama region flowers.


The delta of this valley´s river gives life to many different kinds of plants and animals we could not recognise.


After crossing the river, we got to the coastal road (Ruta Costiera de Atacama) which is the nicest road you can imagine. It is an old and a bit broken asphalt road going throgh the National park where almost no car passes. We filled water in one of the ghost town along the coast.


These towns are apparently crowded during the summer, but now almost no one lives there. We camped in front of the see, and cooked lunch with the slow sunset in the horizon. We spotted small flowers near our tent.


After crossing the nice Llamos de Challe national park, we had a very good lunch in a very expensive restaurant in Carrizal Bajo.


The view from this restaurant is amazing, and all the people there are very kind.


We found many flowers we recognised from the exhibition near where we camped.


The ride of the following day was fast due to the huge planes.


We managed to reach Puerto Viejo by the evening. This big town inhabits only 50 people in the winter, but by the number of houses, during the summer there are probably thousands of people there enjoying the beach.


There we got free water from a grumpy lady. Usually you would pay a lot for water in these isolated villages. We camped above a green valley which benefits from the Copiapo river´s water.

For more photos of this post click here
and here


                       Shoham & Amit
                     South America by Bicycle

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