and we decided to cycle through. Crazy, nor? 1500km later we drink Pisco Sour in San Pedro de Atacama and write this post (well actually only the German one).
We started in La Serena. From there we mostly cycled along the Panamericana, a paved highway with not too much traffic. Luckily also the police ignored the cyclist-forbidden signs. Additionally we did not need to pay the hihway-fee, but were allowed to use the existing facilities - like free and clean showers, drinking water, toilets and free camp spots.
Resting areas during the hottest time of the day
Sometimes we needed to built a shelter
The desert was changing all of the time. First there were still some bushes and cacti, later less cacti and finally nothing green. The Panamericana follows most of the time the coast, but included some mountains of the Costillera. Finally we can call them mountains as they go up to 2000m of altitude. The night before we reached San Pedro de Atacama we camped at 3500m above sea level - there was some ice on our bags in the morning.
That’s how a typical landscape looks like
All over the trip it was very easy to find all kinds of food cyclists want, we just had a problem with water - it needed to be planned carefully. As we said, driest desert on earth. Usually we had 10 liters of water on our bikes, which lasts a day and a night. Once we miscalculated our needs and got to know the friendliness of Chilenian car drivers. Martha was standing with an empty bottle at the side of the road and was waving. The second car stopped and gave us one bottle of water. Some minutes later a car stopped - without us waving. The car-driver was told by a bus (the first car which passed by) to bring us some water. Amazing - there were some apples on top. On some of the other days a car just stopped and offered us water without us asking. We also got offered some lifts, which this time we did not accept.
Happy cyclist who just got lots of drinking water!
The best part if this tour was our route through the national parc “Pan de Azucar. It is a wonderful parc with amazing beaches, nice people, breath-taking cliffs, gorges and lots of cacti. In the parc we were also able to understand how it is possible for plants to grow in some places: every morning the area close to the coast was covered in mist. Some mornings it was so dense that it felt like standing in the rain. Nevertheless, the clouds always vanished with the first bits of sun.
The beautiful national parc Pan de Azucar
Lots of cacti
After 3 weeks we can say: desert is not just desert, it has a lot to offer and more than we thought.
Mining trucks (well, just parts) can be really huge.
Abandonned nitrate-mining city (since about 100 years)
Entry to San Pedro de Atacama
Sunset in Valle de la Luna close to San Pedro