Friday, February 3, 2017

Salar de Talar (Tara Salt Flats).


By lunch time today, we had made our way from Monjes de Pacana to a cluster of very colorful rocks, another anomaly in an otherwise barren landscape.  We were in the Salar de Talar.

These rocks looked like an artist's canvas that had been splashed with a yellow and orange paint. Streaks of intense orange added dramatic highlights.  It was really pretty.

I thought the surface of the rock faces was a bit unusual though. Somehow I expect wind and sand erosion to create flat surfaces with some sharp edges but these rocks looked like lumps of dough.                    






If I didn't tell you that you were looking at photos of rock faces, you might think this was a modern art painting.  Beautiful, isn't it?


The colors of the rocks were stunning contrast against the sky. I have to say, the sky in the Atacama Desert region is amazing.  The air must be so devoid of pollution to be so blue - not a speck of dirt to temper its clarity or shade!







Hernan and Allen had pulled the van up near one of the smaller cluster of rocks. It was here that they set up our lunch table.



This was not only a really nice spot for a picnic lunch but the best picnic lunch we've had on this entire tour.  Notice we had a picnic bench that was lined with a table cloth?  For lunch, we had grilled chicken, rice and veggies and there was even a bottle of Chilean wine to go around.  We enjoyed the surroundings, the food, and most of all the company.  What more could you ask for?

After we ate, we all chipped in to help Hernan and Allen to pack up everything so we could hit the road.


Back on the road, we would soon be rewarded with the most stunning of views - a lagoon in the Salar de Talar.  Hernan parked the van at the top of the road and we all walked down towards the water.  No need for words to describe what I saw.  Here are are a few photos  - they speak for themselves.














I think everyone was happy to just hang around here but it was soon time to get back on the road.  Allen had to round us all up :-)


Shortly, before we reached San Pedro, we asked Allen if we stop one last time for a view of Licancabur and Juriques and he obliged.  The view was lovely this morning but it was magnificent this afternoon. 


The bright sun brought out the intense yellow color of the tufts of grass.  All that was missing was a herd of grazing vicuñas.


Of course, this was the spot for Bro and I to have a photo taken of us.  You have to admit, we couldn't have picked a nicer backdrop!



Back in the van, I took one last photo of Licancabur.  I knew this would be my last view of the magnificent landscape of the Atacama Desert.  I lingered as long as I could to take in every bit of it.  Of all the places I have traveled to so far in my life, none has made a greater impression on me than this region in Chile. I will forever be in love with the Atacama Desert.                   


Just as we reached the outskirts of San Pedro, we encountered a sandstorm crossing the road just ahead of us.


At one point, it was blowing so hard that Hernan slowed down so were traveling at snail's pace. 


We arrived back at Hostal Lickana in the late afternoon.  As we entered the gate, we were greeted by the sound of rushing water. The canal running alongside the length of the property was filled with water and flowing hard.  It had been doing this for a couple days already.  According to Allen, water availability is very tightly controlled in the Atacama region.  Each town is put on a schedule to receive water from the reservoir.  This week it was San Pedro's turn.  I don't know where the region's reservoir is located but I presume the water is channeled from there to the town's reservoir or holding tanks and that supply is carefully managed so everyone has 24x7 access to water.  Once San Pedro's turn is over, the canal would dry up until it's once again the town's turn to receive water.


We've spent 4 nights at Hostal Lickana and while it's a bare bones kind of place - nothing more than a clean bed and clean bathroom, the staff have been very nice and you can't beat the hostal's location.  Not only is it stone's throw from the main street in San Pedro but it's also located on one of the roads that leads out of town so it's been a very convenient pick up point for all the tours we've been on.


Bare bones room but the  sheets are clean and beds are comfy.

 We had a little table outside our room that we used a lot!

We decided to have an early dinner and well, it was back to the tried and true O2 de Te Salon for one last meal of quiche.  I  have enjoyed their quiche :-)


We took a slow walk back to the hostal as the sun set.  I will miss this dusty, outpost of a town but I will forever have very fond memories of the time we spent here.  When I was planning our time in Atacama, I was worried that five days would be too much.  In retrospect, I wish I had planned even a few more days as there was much that we did not see.  I guess that means we'll have to come back one day! :-)




Time now to repack my suitcase.  We leave tomorrow to begin the Patagonia part of our trip and while I will be sad leaving Atacama, I am excited to see all that Patagonia holds for us.

Goodnight from San Pedro de Atacama!