San Pedro’s dusty streets and adobe buildings didn’t look the best when we arrived in town. Huge amounts of rain had flooded the town four weeks before and the clean-up will continue for some time yet. A 400 year old adobe church with cactus wood ceiling beams seems to enjoy its place amongst the streets full of tour operators offering deals to the hoardes of tourists to the many attractions surrounding the town and further into Bolivia and Argentina.
The snow-capped volcanoes that surround the town make this a speccy place none the less. We spent a couple of days here and one of the highlights of the town is undoubtedly the French restaurant that served great coffee and food. Seriously though, we visited the huge salt lake Salar de Atacama to the south and enjoyed the views from the centre of the lake and the flamingos feeding. Valle de la luna makes an interesting entry or exit from the town and puts on a show every night as the sun goes down.
We exited town to the North, getting up at 4.30am to drive the 100km’s to see the El Tatio geysers at sunrise. At 6.00 in the morning at over 4,300 metres it was pitch black and freezing, but certainly worth the trip as the mist and cloud cleared about 9.30 to reveal bright blue sky and snow capped volcanoes – again!
Leaving the geysers, we travelled north and west through some beautiful country to the mining town of Calama.
How did the troopies fare at El Tatio Geysers and at altitude?
The troopy was excellent. It has handled everything up to 4,800m without any problems at all. That’s as high as we’ve been so far. We had considered camping in the car park at El Tatio to avoid driving in the dark but decided against it as we hadn’t slept at that altitude before we were not sure how we’d sleep. Its about 4,200m. We were so glad we decided to drive up in the early morning as it was freezing up there before dawn and would have been hard to get up! It was a 2 hour drive from San Pedro de Atacama, the road seemed to be in good condition although it was still a bit hard on the driver (having said that, we didn’t see it in the daylight as we took a different way down to Calama).