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South American journey (4) – Chile – Aventura Weblog

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Atacama Desert, Valley of Loss of life (Valley of Mars) and ALMA Astronomical Telescop

The time spent in Chile, I divide it into 2 elements, one earlier than Easter Island, the 2nd, after Easter Island. Though the eclipse occasion is positioned within the first a part of the Chile expertise, I’d say that the second half was way more engaging and way more stunning by way of panorama and nature.

Thus within the 2nd a part of continental Chile we had the chance to see a large stone hand in the course of the desert, to see the monument of the tropics, take evening photos within the Moon Valley, a spot with gems throughout de floor, stroll the sand dunes within the Valley of Loss of life or the Valley of Mars, the place I noticed sand dunes browsing and an nearly Martian panorama.

06 – 07 July – Saturday / Sunday

Anyway, we had a powerful variety of flights on this journey, and just like the earlier US eclipse journey in 2017, we spent comparatively little time in every place however managed to see a whole lot of locations. That plus the evening photographs, made the journey a really tiring one, similar to the one within the US in 2017. Then the fatigue passes and you might be left with a whole lot of nice reminiscences. Figuring out myself very nicely I’d not say that I’d have understood significantly extra of every place if I had stayed a number of extra days in every.


On Saturday I had one other flight to Antofagasta. We had the chance to see from the airplane how the freeway cuts the territory of Chile north-south, proper subsequent to the Ocean, in a straight line.

I landed at 11am and picked up some SUVs from the airport once more: seven Nissan Kicks.

I divide the time spent in Chile into 2 elements, one earlier than Easter Island and the second after Easter Island. Though the eclipse was positioned within the first a part of the Chile expertise, I’d say that the second half was way more engaging and way more stunning by way of panorama and nature. Thus within the 2nd a part of continental Chile we had the chance to see a stone large to see the monument of the tropics we arrive within the valley of the moon for evening photos with gems on foot but additionally within the valley of demise or the valley of Mars the place we noticed sand dunes browsing on dunes and an nearly Martian panorama.

Antofagasta can be known as the “Pearl of the North” town belonged to Bolivia till the Pacific Battle of 1879 when it was annexed by Chile.

Antofagasta The historical past of this stunning metropolis is way from easy. It modified from a easy fishing bay – the place guano was mined – to a middle of main operations throughout the saltpeter mining.

In keeping with city legends and some historic data of these days, the so-called Juan López was the primary particular person to choose these desert shores together with his household.

Years later, the Bolivian authorities granted José Santos Ossa private permission to use the saltpeter beneath Cobija, an space positioned roughly 100 kilometers north of Antofagasta. This explorer found saltpetre within the environment of the bay of Antofagasta, which till then was solely a small fishing village, so the good journey started.

The small bay was known as “Penablanca”, in accordance with the Bolivian data of these days. In 1871 this Juan Lopez modified the identify of town to Antofagasta, after Antofagasta de la Sierra (at this time in Argentina), which was a small Bolivian city that attracted pilgrims from throughout Bolivia to the church devoted to Saint Mary!

In 1872, town was based, its inhabitants started to develop exponentially as a consequence of saltpetre mining, each Chilean and Bolivian residents got here right here.

In 1879, the Battle of the Pacific started and town was occupied by Chilean armies. As soon as the conflict was over, it grew to become formally acknowledged as Chilean territory. As we speak, greater than 100 years after this historic milestone, Antofagasta has develop into the financial and cultural capital of Northern Chile, sharing the title of Regional Capital with town of Iquique.

In Antofagasta, we got here throughout a gypsy girl, sure, who guessed our palm. The height.

Additionally in Antofagasta, I mentioned let’s go to the mall to do some purchasing. We didn’t store however the attention-grabbing half was seeing winter offers and gross sales in July.

Let’s not overlook that we’re within the southern hemisphere of the planet.

I didn’t get to Mejillones as initially deliberate, a lot too busy, however some data is beneficial if you wish to get there.

Mejillones positioned 65 km north of Antofagasta. The primary exercise in Mejillones was fishing. First, there was artisanal fishing, then industrial fishing. The reality is that lately town determined to boost its requirements and began constructing a contemporary port that shall be used to permit all of the merchandise made in northern Chile to achieve the entire world extra simply.


This industrial development can be supported by a tourism growth of the area. The attractive factors that converge there have turned Mejillones into one of the crucial romantic cities in Chile. Its marine structure and quiet seashores make it a really perfect space to find every of its corners, the place the previous and the current coexist.

We then drove to San Pedro de Atacama, however with many stops alongside the way in which.

Mejillones positioned 65 km north of Antofagasta. The primary exercise in Mejillones was fishing. First, there was artisanal fishing, then industrial fishing. The reality is that lately town determined to boost its requirements and began constructing a contemporary port that shall be used to permit all of the merchandise made in northern Chile to achieve the entire world extra simply. This industrial development can be supported by a tourism growth of the area. The attractive factors that converge there have turned Mejillones into one of the crucial romantic cities in Chile. Its marine structure and quiet seashores make it a really perfect space to find every of its corners, the place the previous and the current coexist.

We then drove to San Pedro de Atacama, however with many stops alongside the way in which.

La Portada

La Portada holds one of the crucial common photos in Chile. Due to this picture, vacationers from everywhere in the world come to this nation to see if this “postcard” existed. This can be a geomorphological and geological characteristic of sedimentary rocks and fossil stays which were eroded by wind and sea over 1000’s of years. These brokers formed the caverns and cliffs and sculpted the good arch of La Portada in excellent element. This arch, big, even when seen from the shore, reveals guests how a whole rock has been interrupted by the gentleness of the Pacific Ocean, with its blue coloration and white foam.

Eagles, fishers and seabirds of every kind fly round it, and sea lions, sharks and dolphins roam its waters. Its arch is 42 meters excessive, 23 meters extensive and 70 meters lengthy. These dimensions trigger fascination. To get to this place I left Antofagasta to the north and after a journey of virtually twenty kilometers, I accessed the world by way of the freeway that joins the Cities of Antofagasta and Tocopilla.

In La Portada we went purchasing for souvenirs. It was an expertise in itself to select up this stylized bone oversword dagger from a Bolivian Amerindian. The pictures converse for themselves. All of the souvenirs had been handmade by him. I additionally acquired an amazingly made masks and extra.

I took some nice photos of the eagles flying over the coast of the continent.

We additionally walked on the seashore the place we picked up some attention-grabbing conglomerates of seashells caught to a rock. Additionally on the seashore I made mates with the native stray canines. It was confirmed to me once more in Chile and for that matter in all of South America stray canines are completely different in perspective from those I knew in Romania it’s like they’re your pets for a short while we performed with they and accompanied us on a regular basis on the seashore as if we had recognized one another for a lifetime.

Tropic of Capricorn

The Tropic of Capricorn, one of many 5 main parallels of the Earth passes via the world. Additionally, the cathedral of Antofagasta, the ruins of Huanchaca are the oldest constructions in Antofagasta. On the imaginary line of the Tropic of Capricorn there’s a monument marking this, which I visited.

A geographical landmark positioned reverse the Cerro Moreno airport on the outskirts of town signifies the solstices and equinoxes. This stunning monument was erected within the yr 2000 and is positioned at 23 ° south latitude and 70 °, 23 ° west longitude. It stands practically 13 meters tall and weighs round 500 tons. It lies in a circle with a diameter of 30 meters and establishes the precise spot the place the Tropic of Capricorn is.

It was constructed by the Rotary Membership of Antofagasta and inspired by Mr. Armando Cordero Rivadeneira, who was the president of the entity within the yr 2000, a particularly particular date for humanity. The well-known architect Eleonora Román was answerable for the design of the work whose geometric traits remodel it into a big photo voltaic observatory.

The monument consists of 4 principal buildings known as, the Arch of Capricorn, the Highway of the Solar,

The Gates of the Solar and the Circle of the World by the artists who made them. The Arch of Capricorn is nearly 11 meters excessive and its edge is used to mark the seasons. The Solar’s path is a small trajectory that crosses north to south over the tropics and marks the true midday, taking as a reference the shadow solid by the Arc of Capricorn. Two majestic partitions border the Highway of the Solar and have been known as the Gates of the Solar. Each are used as a reference for marking the equinoxes. The fourth half, which provides life to the monument, is named the Circle of the World and descriptions the complete work. The positioning has develop into one in all Antofagasta’s greatest vacationer sights and is the primary gathering middle for astronomy lovers throughout the summer season.

Mano del Desierto

Then I drove till I got here to one of the crucial attention-grabbing sculptures ever. The Hand of the Desert (La Mano del Desierto).

On the north facet of freeway 5 75 km South of Antofagasta, within the Antofagasta area is the well-known sculpture of the hand that appears to go away the Earth to greet those that journey on this space.

It was constructed by the Chilean sculptor Mario Irarrázaval and inaugurated in 1992. Nobody is aware of the true that means of this hand and it’s set so that everybody can interpret it as they want. A greeting, a dismissal, a reminiscence of the area. Its building was financed with the contributions of the Professional Antofagasta Company and they’re those who maintain it and clear it day-after-day, as a result of it’s a favourite place for graffiti artists.

I stayed there nicely into the evening and took nearly half an evening of evening photos. Even when they had been made by me, I like to have a look at these photos that carry me pleasure each from the reminiscence they evoke and in addition aesthetically. I additionally had some attention-grabbing experiences there as a result of I made a decision to see what it’s prefer to go at the hours of darkness within the Atacama desert till you get far sufficient away which you could not see or hear the group you got here with. Given the context during which we photographed the desert hand the place we appeared quite a bit on the starry and really clear sky, I had a particular feeling once I managed to get away from the group till I may hear nothing however the silence of the desert.

Though I’ve used this phrase many instances on this article once more I can not say greater than the photographs can convey.


July 8 – Monday

The ruins of Huanchaca

The subsequent day, July 8, we continued our journey by automotive to San Pedro in any other case our closing vacation spot in Chile San Pedro de Atacama. On the way in which, nonetheless, we might uncover many attention-grabbing locations and within the type of this journey, we had lightning experiences in every of those locations on the way in which.

The departure from Antofagasta to Calama after which to San Pedro de Atacama was about 400 km and thus we actually entered the Atacama desert.

Ruins of Huanchaca Positioned throughout the ocean, the ruins of Huanchaca had been inbuilt 1888.

They had been nothing greater than a refinery owned by Compania Minera de Huanchaca, constructed to course of minerals from numerous factors within the area, principally silver mines Bolivian.

Over 3000 tons of ore per 30 days had been refined right here and over 20 tons of pure silver had been despatched to all corners of the world by way of the Pacific. As we speak there are solely ruins that appear to be an previous medieval fortress.

In fact we made a rapid cease there too and took some photos.


I used to be fortunate sufficient to be the mini automotive driver for the assigned group (solely 3 individuals within the SUV) and have some freedom to cease the place I wished and for so long as I wished.

A recurring theme of this text is that graffiti was discovered even on bus stops in the course of the desert.

San Pedro de Atacama

..and Petroglyphs

We arrived at midday close to San Pedro de Atacama and nonetheless had time to go to the petroglyphs. I like to recommend. Yerbas Buenas, there’s a big assortment of petroglyphs right here. Due to its location, the valley was an essential route of pre-Columbian peoples. The place was used for relaxation, by vacationers, and the drawings represented gods, animals and the indication of routes.

They’re simply recognized on rocks as zoomorphic and anthropomorphic representations. Probably the most usually illustrated animals are alpaca and guanaco. Whether or not or not these symbolize a scientific accounting of herds, commerce, or are merely drawings to go the time is a matter of hypothesis. Different designs current embrace foxes, cougar, flamenco and the “dragon”.

Additionally within the space is the Valle de Arcoiris (Rainbow Valley) recognized for its deep reddish to inexperienced rock formations. We didn’t get to Valea Curcubeuului as a result of it was an excessive amount of for someday, however we understood that it’s cool there too. One can proceed the highway to the Rio Grande to see the small village hidden within the steep canyon alongside the Rio Grande River.

About 100 kilometers from Calama, the driest desert on the earth jealously hides a small oasis known as San Pedro de Atacama. A village of soiled streets and adobe homes which have stolen the center of 1000’s of vacationers, with the allure of the Atacama and Spanish cultures highlighted in every of its buildings.

After the lengthy highway via the Atacama desert we arrived in San Pedro de Atacama (alt. 2407 m, 22°55′S 68°12′W).

San Pedro tradition is in every single place, a legacy born 11,000 years in the past with the primary Atacameo communities. The range continued with the invasion of the Inca tribe within the fifteenth century after which with the Spanish affect that arrived 100 years later.

San Pedro is considerably just like the Outdated Customs Home within the 90s however moved to South America. The previous, the pubs with dwell music, the peaceable stray canines, the sluggish tempo of life, the place no one appears to be in a rush, the previous church, a stroll via the village workshops to learn the way they preserve their traditions. All these describe the ambiance within the metropolis. And there are different wow locations across the space.

In San Pedro de Atacama we stayed three nights at Resort La Casa de San Tomas


09 July – Tuesday

Loss of life Valley or Mars Valley?


I used to be speaking concerning the wow locations within the space. The subsequent day was a protracted and really attention-grabbing day. Lengthy as a result of the exercise was virtually completed on July 10 within the morning.

On July ninth within the morning I used to be in Valea Marte or Valea Morții (Mars or Muerte) – because it had been, the identify precisely displays the fact. I hiked within the true sense of the phrase, watched dune browsing. This morning from round 8 am.

Then already round midday I managed to go together with the group to the ALMA observatories till the night, then with Vali Grigore I went to Valea Lunii, the place we stayed to take photos till the morning.

And with all that, I haven’t visited the thermal springs De La Puritama, Salar de Atacama, Piedras Rojas (150 km south of San Pedro), Lagunas Escondidas de Baltinache (50 km from San Pedro), Laguna Cejar (20 km from San Pedro ), El Tatio Geysers, Machuca Church, Jere Valley (38 km from San Pedro de Atacama).

Or possibly I touched a bit on a few of the areas listed however didn’t keep lengthy. However if you’d like, you go.

As I mentioned, I began the day with Loss of life Valley. What extra enjoyable exercise to begin your day with?

The Valley of Loss of life is near the Valley of the Moon, a number of kilometers from San Pedro de Atacama, in the course of the Cordillera de la Sal. The valley is also referred to as the Valley of Mars as a result of it’s a mountainous and sandy formation with pure sculptures Nonetheless, it was beforehand mentioned that those that tried to cross the valley died, animal bones had been discovered and other people relationship again to the explorers who entered this place. The place is totally devoid of vegetation and there are sand dunes which can be extremely appreciated by those that prefer to observe sandboarding and trekking via inhospitable landscapes, just like possibly Mars.

In Atacama there’s a rock known as Atacamite, a hydrate of copper chloride that crystallizes within the orthorhombic system. Its coloration is wealthy inexperienced, with shades from mild inexperienced, emerald inexperienced, to darkish inexperienced, even blackish inexperienced. It may be clear or translucent. It was discovered for the primary time in 1802. It’s a relatively uncommon mineral.

Wonderful video from the Valley of Loss of life (Mars)







ALMA Radio Telescopes

Round midday, the fabulous, long-awaited go to to the ALMA astronomical observatories (radio observatories) was scheduled. Positioned 50 km from San Pedro de Atacama, we went there by automotive, at a excessive altitude, about 3000m.

What’s ALMA? It’s an interferometric observatory / radio telescope. ALMA stands for Atacama Giant Millimeter/submillimeter Array beneath the dome of ESO – The European Southern Observatory.

I visited the ALMA – Operations Assist Facility (OSF) command middle. The go to began at 14:30 and lasted 3 hours. If you happen to’re questioning, sure, approval is required based mostly on an utility.

As Chile is without doubt one of the prime places on the earth for astronomy, our intention on this journey was to go to one or two prime astronomical observatories in world science positioned within the space: the ESO Paranal Observatory, positioned about 130 km from Antofagasta and/ or the ESO ALMA Observatory (interferometric radio telescope), positioned 50 km from San Pedro de Atacama.

The massive drawback is that we had fastened days once we may go to these observatories, given our schedule. At Paranal, visits are accepted by particular person utility (not group), on Saturdays and Sundays. We might have match on July 6 or 7 when we’ve Antofagasta on the schedule.

Solely the locations allotted for the visits had been occupied lengthy earlier than we fashioned the group. Varied interventions had been made via Valentin Grigore’s mates, bosses at ESO, however there was no risk of visiting her in Paranal. In order that left solely the opposite mega observatory, ALMA. The process is identical: particular person/household utility for Saturday or Sunday visits. I didn’t get weekend days in San Pedro de Atacama and the reservations had been offered out for a very long time anyway. There’s, nonetheless, a risk for institutional visits granted maybe to an astronomical society and a specialised college. Via SARM, as members, we had been eligible to use.

It helped that Valentin Grigore, after about two years of working with ESO (though Romania shouldn’t be a member of ESO) managed to incorporate Romania in ESON – ESO Community for the Promotion of Training and Science for the Public, turning into a consultant of Romania in ESON.

So, Valentin negotiated from this place, giving assurances that we’ll make public the results of the go to, that we’ll promote ALMA via appearances (voila), via displays given to college students in camps and summer season colleges, and many others. (I additionally did this throughout the Astroclub ). Though the visiting day was free, there was nonetheless an issue with the precise date of the go to. They made an exception once more for SARM, the go to for Tuesday, July 9 (although it was not a go to day), however we needed to include a certified information, acknowledged by ALMA. And I discovered this information accessible for July ninth. Wow, what an effort. One other argument for the way particular this journey was.

As I mentioned, the go to lasted 3 hours and included a tour of the ALMA command middle – Operations Assist Facility (OSF), the place the place the scientific workers work, the place you may see the management room, the laboratories and, infrequently (it relies upon fortunately) an antenna on the upkeep middle or antenna provider. We even realized from ALMA researchers how the operators work. I noticed the roles of the workers and watched a clip with the historical past of ALMA. All from about 3000 m. The precise parts of the radio telescope array are even increased at 5000 m. Think about how these individuals work completely at such an altitude, for science. For safety causes, the Chajnantor Plateau, the place the antennas I used to be speaking about, positioned at an altitude of 5000m, are put in.

I additionally met a brilliant good canine on the Observatory, very nicely behaved however decided.

Virtually 7 km from town there’s a viewpoint known as “Piedra del Coyote” from the place you may see the fabulous “Valle de la Luna” at sundown. The place I went with Vali Grigore after the go to to the ALMA observatories.