ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Day 41 to 50

DAY 50 (1 OF 4) – GEYSER DEL TATIO, ATACAMA DESERT, CHILE

At 4:00am, the tour bus arrived at our hotel.  Unlike the Southwest Circuit tour in Bolivia when we traveled in a group of 4, this time we were traveling in a minibus in a group of 24.  El Tatio Geysers is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Atacama Desert.  Not as high as the geyser field we visited in the Bolivian Altiplano, El Tatio is situated at about 4,320m above sea level and it is the third largest geyser field in the world.  We arrived at Geyser del Tatio before sunrise.  As we entered the field, we saw the sun slowly lit up the surrounding mountains.  Like little kids, many visitors ran and jumped and did all kinds of funny posts in the geyser steam.  Formed by condensation in the cold morning air (at night the temperature here can fall to -20 degrees Celsius), the geyser steam columns looked quite dramatic.  Towards the end of the visit, we had a simple breakfast at the geyser field.  In a small pool of thermal spring, our guide steamed eggs, chocolate milk and milk.  It felt so good with a hot drink in hand after spending an hour in the freezing cold temperature.  After breakfast, some decided to take a dip in the hot spring nearby.  Before we left the geyser field, we saw a group of vicunas.
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Read more on San Pedro de Atacama, 2013 South America
Day 49 – Arrival, San Pedro de Atacama
Day 50.1 – Geyser del Tatio, Atacama Dessert
Day 50.2 – Altiplano Wetland, near El Tatio
Day 50.3 – Machuca Village, Atacama
Day 50.4 – Stargazing, Atacama Dessert
Day 51.1 – Town, San Pedro de Atacama
Day 51.2 – Valle de la Muerte & Cordillera de la Sal, San Pedro de Atacama
Day 51.3 – Valle de la Luna, San Pedro de Atacama
Day 52.1 – Laguna Chaxa, Atacama
Day 52.2 – Lagunas Altiplanicas, Atacama
Day 52.3 – Tropic de Capricorn, Atacama
Day 53.1 – Pacific Ocean, Antofagasta
Day 53.2 – Nan King Restaurant, Antofagasta
Day 54.1 – On the Road, Atacama Desert
Day 54.2 – Paranal Observatory, Atacama Desert

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 49 (1 OF 1) – ARRIVAL, SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA, CHILE

A 9-hour bus ride from Salta took us back to the Hills of Seven Colours in Purmamarca, passed by Salina Grande (salt flat), crossed the Argentine/ Chilean border at Jama Pass (4,200m above sea level), and reached San Pedro de Atacama (SPA), our first destination in Chile, in mid-afternoon.  As we approached SPA, we were surprised to see trees in this desert town.  We soon realized that SPA is indeed belonged to a series of oases in Atacama inhabited by humans for over 10,000 years. In recent years, SPA has been developed into a popular base for miners and tourists to explore the Atacama Desert.  The town itself is well established with grocery shops, souvenir shops, restaurants, ATM machines, boutique hotels, hostels, and many tour agencies.  Looking east from SPA, we could see Volcano Licancabur, other volcanoes, and distant mountain peaks forming the eastern boundary of Atacama. Beyond Volcano Licancabur would be Laguna Verde in Bolivia, where we had a picnic lunch and enjoyed the dramatic scenery of the Bolivian Altiplano 10 days ago.
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Previous Destination – Northwest Argentina, reading from post Day 43.1

Read more on San Pedro de Atacama, 2013 South America
Day 49 – Arrival, San Pedro de Atacama
Day 50.1 – Geyser del Tatio, Atacama Dessert
Day 50.2 – Altiplano Wetland, near El Tatio
Day 50.3 – Machuca Village, Atacama
Day 50.4 – Stargazing, Atacama Dessert
Day 51.1 – Town, San Pedro de Atacama
Day 51.2 – Valle de la Muerte & Cordillera de la Sal, San Pedro de Atacama
Day 51.3 – Valle de la Luna, San Pedro de Atacama
Day 52.1 – Laguna Chaxa, Atacama
Day 52.2 – Lagunas Altiplanicas, Atacama
Day 52.3 – Tropic de Capricorn, Atacama
Day 53.1 – Pacific Ocean, Antofagasta
Day 53.2 – Nan King Restaurant, Antofagasta
Day 54.1 – On the Road, Atacama Desert
Day 54.2 – Paranal Observatory, Atacama Desert

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 48 (3 OF 3) – GOODBYE NORTHERN ARGENTINA, SALTA, ARGENTINA

We left Cafayate in the afternoon and returned to Salta.  Salta was particularly beautiful at night when locals and tourists took to the main plaza for dinner and music.  Tomorrow, we would be leaving Argentina, crossing the border into Chile and spent the next few days in one of the driest places on Earth, the Atacama Desert.

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Read other posts on Northwest Argentina in 2013 South America:

Day 43.1 – Garganta del Diablo, Tilcara
Day 43.2 – Pucara, Tilcara
Day 44.1 – Hills of Seven Colours, Purmamarca
Day 44.2 – Cemetery, Purmamarca
Day 45.1 – Antigua Gusthouse, Tilcara
Day 45.2 – Museums and Plaza, Salta
Day 46.1 – Carpe Diem, Salta
Day 46.2 – Helados Miranda, Cafayate
Day 46.3 – Bodega el Porvenir, Cafayate
Day 47.1 – Bodega Domingo Molina, Cafayate
Day 47.2 – Quebrada Las Conchas, Cafayate
Day 48.1 – Museo de Vino, Cafayate
Day 48.2 – El Hornito, Cafayate
Day 48.3 – Goodbye Northern Argentina, Salta

Next Destination – San Pedro de Atacama
Continuing on our journey from post Day 49.1

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 48 (2 OF 3) – EL HORNITO, CAFAYATE, ARGENTINA

Finding a place to eat everyday during a long travel journey can be brain racking, especially in places with numerous tourist traps. During our stay in Cafayate, we found El Hornito, a local restaurant away from the tourist crowds, that we could consider as our “dining hall”. El Hornito is very popular among the locals, especially during weekends. Nothing fancy and pretentious, this little restaurant satisfied our appetite each day with grilled steaks and freshly baked empanadas.
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Read other posts on Northwest Argentina in 2013 South America:

Day 43.1 – Garganta del Diablo, Tilcara
Day 43.2 – Pucara, Tilcara
Day 44.1 – Hills of Seven Colours, Purmamarca
Day 44.2 – Cemetery, Purmamarca
Day 45.1 – Antigua Gusthouse, Tilcara
Day 45.2 – Museums and Plaza, Salta
Day 46.1 – Carpe Diem, Salta
Day 46.2 – Helados Miranda, Cafayate
Day 46.3 – Bodega el Porvenir, Cafayate
Day 47.1 – Bodega Domingo Molina, Cafayate
Day 47.2 – Quebrada Las Conchas, Cafayate
Day 48.1 – Museo de Vino, Cafayate
Day 48.2 – El Hornito, Cafayate
Day 48.3 – Goodbye Northern Argentina, Salta

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 48 (1 OF 3) – MUSEO DE VINO, CAFAYATE, ARGENTINA

In the morning, we concluded our visit of Cafayate by visiting the Museo de Vino (Wine Museum).  Partially located in an historic winery house, the Museo de Vino is a small museum telling the story of Cafayate’s wines with artefacts and a series of interactive interpretations with multi-media devices.  Described by the owner of Casa Arbol as “romantic”, the museum also tells the wine story with poems about the climate, landscape, mountains, and water of Cafayate.  With a high altitude environment and a desert-like climate, the wines of Cafayate are quite unique in the wine-making world.  Originally came from Spain, Torrontes is particular suitable to do well in Cafayate’s climate and soil composition.

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Read other posts on Northwest Argentina in 2013 South America:

Day 43.1 – Garganta del Diablo, Tilcara
Day 43.2 – Pucara, Tilcara
Day 44.1 – Hills of Seven Colours, Purmamarca
Day 44.2 – Cemetery, Purmamarca
Day 45.1 – Antigua Gusthouse, Tilcara
Day 45.2 – Museums and Plaza, Salta
Day 46.1 – Carpe Diem, Salta
Day 46.2 – Helados Miranda, Cafayate
Day 46.3 – Bodega el Porvenir, Cafayate
Day 47.1 – Bodega Domingo Molina, Cafayate
Day 47.2 – Quebrada Las Conchas, Cafayate
Day 48.1 – Museo de Vino, Cafayate
Day 48.2 – El Hornito, Cafayate
Day 48.3 – Goodbye Northern Argentina, Salta

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 47 (2 OF 2) – QUEBRADA LAS CONCHAS, CAFAYATE, ARGENTINA

After Bodega Domingo Molina, we spent the afternoon visiting the Quebrada las Conchas. Cafayate, located in the Valles Calchaquíes, is renowned for its surrounding rock formations, especially in Quebrada las Conchas.  During the tour, we enjoyed some short hikes at Los Castillos, La Yesera, El Anfiteatro and Garganta del Diablo.  At La Yesera, we were led by our guide up to a lookout above the valley of colourful rocks. At El Anfiteatro, where the canyon offered some excellent acoustics, we were treated with soothing music by a local music performer. At Garganta del Diablo, we did a bit of climbing to reach the elevated canyon just before sunset.ImageImageImage
La Yesera (following 3 images)ImageImageImage
El Anfiteatro (following 2 images)ImageImage
Garganta del Diablo (following 2 images)
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Read other posts on Northwest Argentina in 2013 South America:

Day 43.1 – Garganta del Diablo, Tilcara
Day 43.2 – Pucara, Tilcara
Day 44.1 – Hills of Seven Colours, Purmamarca
Day 44.2 – Cemetery, Purmamarca
Day 45.1 – Antigua Gusthouse, Tilcara
Day 45.2 – Museums and Plaza, Salta
Day 46.1 – Carpe Diem, Salta
Day 46.2 – Helados Miranda, Cafayate
Day 46.3 – Bodega el Porvenir, Cafayate
Day 47.1 – Bodega Domingo Molina, Cafayate
Day 47.2 – Quebrada Las Conchas, Cafayate
Day 48.1 – Museo de Vino, Cafayate
Day 48.2 – El Hornito, Cafayate
Day 48.3 – Goodbye Northern Argentina, Salta

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 47 (1 OF 2) – BODEGA DOMINGO MOLINA, CAFAYATE, ARGENTINA

Recommended by the owner of Casa Arbol, we had our second wine tasting at Bodega Domingo Molina, a family run winery located on the hillside of Yamachuyo, a few kilometers from Cafayate.  The visit, which consisted of a thorough tour and a pleasant tasting session at an outdoor patio overlooking the vineyard and mountains beyond, was definitely worth the extra effort to venture out of Cafayate.  The friendly lady guided us through the facility, and explained the process of local winemaking from grapes picking to bottling.  At the outdoor patio, we were served with local cheese and dried fruit for the tasting.
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Read other posts on Northwest Argentina in 2013 South America:

Day 43.1 – Garganta del Diablo, Tilcara
Day 43.2 – Pucara, Tilcara
Day 44.1 – Hills of Seven Colours, Purmamarca
Day 44.2 – Cemetery, Purmamarca
Day 45.1 – Antigua Gusthouse, Tilcara
Day 45.2 – Museums and Plaza, Salta
Day 46.1 – Carpe Diem, Salta
Day 46.2 – Helados Miranda, Cafayate
Day 46.3 – Bodega el Porvenir, Cafayate
Day 47.1 – Bodega Domingo Molina, Cafayate
Day 47.2 – Quebrada Las Conchas, Cafayate
Day 48.1 – Museo de Vino, Cafayate
Day 48.2 – El Hornito, Cafayate
Day 48.3 – Goodbye Northern Argentina, Salta

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought