Calama - Mine del Cubre
I made my way up from Santiago to the driest dessert in the world, the Atacama-dessert.
There I visited Calama, a town where you can hardly find any tourist. Except of the biggest open pit
mine in the world there is nothing to do there...
It is a copper mine, runned by a company called CODELCO NORTE which offers free tours to the mine. And the dimensions of this mine is amazing, 6km long, 3km wide and almost 1km deep.
The biggest hole ever created by human hand in the world.
CODELCO tells you that the people where happy do leave and it is unhealthy to live next to the mines, but for me it is clear that it was just strategic. It was the cheapest way to get rid of the rocks and it is always a question of money. Who wants to leave his hometown voluntarily and why are there a lots of patrols making sure this town remains to be a ghost-town??
San Pedro the Atacama
Spent one day in San Pedro the Atacama and visited the geysers "El Tatio". They are on the foot of the "El Tatio" volcano at about 4300m altitude. It was very early in the morning and freezing cold (-20°C). But that's when you can see the hot steam of the geysers best. After a breakfast where we used the hot water to boil our eggs we went for a warm bath in one of the hot springs. On the way back we visited some lagoons with different kind of wild life (ducks, flamingos, guanackos).
It was great fun and I saved a lot of money by doing it on my own instead of booking a tour.
Hardly anywhere in the world you can see more stars and the milky-way so clear than in the Atacama dessert. In the night I spent a while and just stared at the night sky. It was indescribable, you have to be there on your own to know what I mean... =)