Northern Chile - Atacama Desert - Rainbow Valley
Another day in San Pedro De Atacama and today the tour I'm doing is to Rainbow Valley, (Vallee Del Arcoiris).
Breakfast was included in this tour that began at 8am from San Pedro. As my Hotel opened for breakfast at 6.30am, I had breakfast before the tour began. Once all the Hotel pick-ups were complete, then we were on our way, heading out of San Pedro through Death Valley towards Calama.
There was excitement as we came around one corner on the main highway and found a Guanaco feeding on the road edge. Quickly it scrambled up the bank and away from our mini bus.
A little further on was our turn-off to Rainbow Valley. This was dirt road with some sharp corners that our driver took too fast, it scared him (and us), then he was back to his bad driving again.
It was along this section we saw a herd of Guanacos feeding on what looked to be very little. How they survive is incredible as where there live in some places of the Atacama Desert, rain hasn't fallen in over 50 years. So how do they survive? Wind carries fog across the desert, where cacti catch the water droplets and lichens that cling to the cacti soak it in like a sponge. When the guanacos eat the cacti flowers and the lichens, they get their much needed water.
The Guanaco pelts are known to be soft and warm and are sought after for luxury items. Something to remember if you ever corner a Guanaco - They often spit when threatened
It was time for out first stop of the day and that was for breakfast at the "Hierbas Buenas" petroglyph site.
A National Park office was here and an undercover area with benches for tour groups. Our guide came with an esky from which he produced ham, cheese and fresh rolls, fruit juice, tea and coffee.
We sat there as group admiring the mountain views and the many Llamas feeding on what looked to be nothing.
While there, another tour group arrived with a similar breakfast.
Next, we explored the many ancient stone carvings carved by the Atacameno people over 10,000 years. Some of the petroglyphs were llamas (a sign of fertility), chamanes (medicine men), monkeys, flamingos, foxes, people and many more shapes. There is plenty of information about them and a map which you follow in a one-way direction. Each area was marked so was very easy to find.
We are back in the bus, but before we can drive to Rainbow Valley, our driver has to do three complete circles in the Mini-bus to scare away the evil spirits, then we can drive the terrible rough road through Matancilla, a valley which has a nearly dry river, Poplar trees and green grass. Along here are some isolated farms.
A little further on is where we start to see the coloured mountains that are this way as the minerals have come to the surface.
The array of colours is incredible!
Blues, greens, yellows, purples, black and white, browns, reds, ochres are probably the main colours. We stopped at quite a few places to do walks, one was a walk through a very narrow chasm.
I'd just spent another amazing day exploring the Atacama Desert