Sunday, 28 November 2010
The Worst Thing that happened in the Atacama
Our tour bus ran off the edge of a dirt road and came close to rolling down a hillside. Driver not concentrating I think. It wasn´t exactly the final scene of The Italian Job but we were all pretty nervous getting off. That tilt looked a lot steeper from inside the bus. This sort of thing was supposed to happen in Bolivia. Thank goodness for our marvellous guide, Roberto.
Roberto got the fourteen of us off the teetering charabanc with calm aplomb. Witness his gravity-defying powers with this ice-fractured hunk of basalt lava. And the show went on without the vehicle, as he marched us to the next stop of our day´s tour of the Altiplanic Lakes of the Atacama Highlands.
Stranded 100 kilometres from our base of San Pedro de Atacama, MJC was forced into some birdwatching.
Many more flamingos - this time the Chilean Flamingo. But at this lake we also saw the very rare Horned Coot. Before the bus ran into the sand, we had also seen two Puna Rheas.
Plus we got very close to this vicuña. Unlike the llamas and alpachas, vicuñas have never been domesticated. According to Roberto, they die of stress if captured.
So it turned into a very good day, what with the wildlife and landscapes. And luckily we were picked up by a busload of OAPs from Paris who gave us a lift back to civilisation. They were lovely.
There are vast numbers of French tourists staying in San Pedro de Atacama. Are they drawn by the fashion?
Part of me can understand why elements of this ensemble might be at least practical in the Atacama. Mind you, we have seen far, far worse on actual backpackers.