Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Day In The Atacama

Firstly (Is that even a word?) I want to thank everyone for thier feedback and ongoing support. I have come to realize how important it has become. When the inevitable bumps and issues occur while in the middle of nowhere I find myself re-read your emails and FB posts and they sort me out. This lifes journey is evolving in the right direction and its the connections to the people we know and love that make it so and it is critical to recognize this no matter where you are and what you are doing. I may be on the road but I am not alone so thanks again.

Now as for a Day in the Atacama. Its sunny, dry, hot, dusty, colourful and outstanding. I had 4 things on my agenda today. The ruins of Pukara De Quitor, Valle de Luna, Valle de Muerte and the Sunset across the desert. A full day none the less.
First Stop, the ruins of Pukara De Quitor. The ruins are a short 3 km walk from town down a winding dusty road with great views of the surrounding volcanoes and valley.  Pukara was a name given by the Incas to a building that acted like a fort. Build about 700 years ago this was the last strong hold of the Atacamanas against our fearless invadors the Spanish. Once victorious the Spanish then sacked and burned all the surrounding villages as a warning. Good for you Spaniards!!
It was an easy climb through the fort and the opposing mirador. Everyone once in a while the altitude would give you attitude and slap you just enough to make you stop for a few seconds. The views were great (a recurring theme in Chile) and a nice way to spend a couple hours. I did drink 3 litres of water over the 3 hours from start to finish.

The Valle de Luna is a wind swept series of dunes and rock formations dating back millions of years. It was a huge salt lake in it's hey day and when looking out over it you can see the white expanses of salt residue. The surrounding area is fed by water run off from the surrounding volcanoes (high enough for snow) and there are a variety of large and small oasis sitting right smack in the middle of the desert. I took a few photos but just hung out and enjoyed the views and the history of the area from my handy dandy guide book....and drank more water.

Another view of Valle De Luna. All the peaks in the formations to my right were perfectly in line with each other. Years of Mother Nature doing her thing. The Valle De Muerte was more of the same but with a different history. I took a few pictures but they did not do it any justice. Located near the Ruins at Quitor and spectacular in its own right it recieved its name after the massacre of the Fort. The 300 defenders that survived were beheaded and thier bodies were found in this valley hundreds of years later, sans heads. The heads were spiked and posted around the fort for everyone to see, which confuses the hell out of me. The Spaniards killed everyone in the fort and surrounding villages, who did they want to see these heads on spikes posted around the fort?

Sunset over the Atacama, no description required.

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