Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did.
So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. --- Mark Twain

Thursday, April 24, 2014

San Pedro de Atacama III, Salt Lakes

Day 1139
121 826 km since the beginning of the journey.
The Route: San Pedro de Atacama – Laguna Cejar – Laguna Tebinquinche – Toconao - Laguna Chaxa (132 km).

While in San Pedro de Atacamat, it could be interesting besides The Moon Valley, Death Valley and Cordiella de Sali , to visit the salt lakes near the town as well. Laguna Cejar and Laguna Pedra are 15 kilometers away, and 10 kilometers further is Laguna Tebinquince.

Laguna Cejar.

Another Laguna Cejar

Strangely enough, the lizard is able to live here in the salt, I cannot imagine how and what he eats , as generally around the salt lakes there is no life.

It is allowed to swim here but the water is, of course extremely salty. By the parking lot there is a shower to get rid of the coat of salt.



Laguna Piedra, a few hundred meters away.

Driving in the direction of Laguna Tebinquince there are two more small lakes by the road. Laguna Ojus Del Salar.

Laguna Tebinquince.

Another Laguna Tebinquinche.

And one more.

Quite a decent road takes to Laguna , but here we see that someone has tried to drive straightforward to the lake. The traces of the wheel traces will remain visible for a long time, after all. For years.

Back to the main road and the next town is Toconao, there are about 800 inhabitants and the town is located 38 km southwards from San Pedro de Atacama.

In Wikipedia not much is written about the town, there is only one sentence, "The most notable building in Toconao is its church, the bell tower is separated from the main church structure and dates from 1750 ".

The roof of the church is made of cactus wood.

And the staircase is built of cactus as well.

And on the other side of the road there really is the Bell Tower.

On the right side of the building there is a shop where basic foods are available - butter, cheese, etc.. But no success of finding any catering establishment in the Central Square.

Quebrada de Jerez, or Valle de Jere National Park is located about a hundred meters northwards of the city.

The GPS map showed that would be some kilometers of walking paths and a parking lot. While planning the route the idea of staying at the parking place for the night seemed to be a good and clever idea. While buying tickets to visit the park (EUR 1,500 pesos, or 2 Euros ) it turned out that to stay for overnight was not permitted, and no exceptions would be made.

Parking lot

The green oasis runs along the riverbed and is 3 kilometers long.

A former and current stone –pit , that is taken care of by the local community. The stone “liparita” excavated from here was said to be particularly resistant to cold, damp and heat.



So it was high time to start looking for another place to sleep before it gets dark. This time there was no desire to spend the night just in front of the gate.

The next mandatory attraction, Laguna Chaxa, was only 25 km away, however, having reached the place it turned out that the visiting time was almost over and there too in the territory of the park it was not permitted to stay overnight. And the territory actually had begun already some 10 km back, so nothing to do but turn around and drive back.

So in the end it turned out as usual – in the beginning you just look for a place of beautiful nature, and choose and choose, then look around with a less critical eye, and at last you just end up turning away a couple of meters from the main road.

Salar de Atacama – in the morning.

About Laguna Chaxast and other places - in the next post.

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