We crossed from Bolivia into Chile on April 4, 2016 at a very remote crossing that only had one other car. Aside from an official on the Bolivian side trying to extort money from us as an ‘exit tax’ we had to argue our way out of having heard it was a scam, the crossing was one of the most pleasant we’ve experienced thus far.
The miles from Bolivia to the Chilean frontier were incredible. We saw a fox at an amazing lake after travelling through the Valley of Rocks. Every few minutes I asked Dave, “Can we camp here? What about here?” Alas, he reasoned we needed to get more miles under our belt as we were virtually getting nowhere with the amount of times I stopped to take photos. This lunar landscape was beyond anything I’d seen before and it was mile after mile of eye-catching scenes I couldn’t, well, the my eyes off of.
Once crossing into Chile we saw flamingos and experienced some strong winds, which we were quickly to learn are very characteristic the further south we go. We now discovered free, safe wild camping. Pulling over anywhere we wanted, we set up camp and got busy making pasta for dinner. There were so many volcanoes in our midst, one which was smoking, it truly felt like we were anywhere but earth.
A few days later we were staring at a giant concrete hand. El Mano de Desierto, was created by Mario Irarrázabal and was used in exaggeration to signify isolation and sorrow. It is located in the Atacama Desert, a barren, intriguing place devoid of plant life and any water it would seem, although the Atacama recently it made the news big time with a rare event in which the entire desert bloomed after flooding occurred in October, 2015.
We have been meeting many other adventure riders now that we are more south and in areas where South American’s tend to recreate more and travellers congregate after the tougher travels through Central and the more northerly South American countries. We have exchanged many e-mails, business cards and stickers of one another’s dream vacations.