The best place I visited during my time in Chile. It’s exactly what I expected when I visited South America, a vast dry desert. The driest non-polar desert in the world in fact. Some experts say it has not rained in a century here.
While this town is touristy….very touristy, it has the character to back it up. The streets are like nothing you have seen before, with lively bars on every corner. Actually now that we are talking the bars, there are a few strange ground rules about that.
- There is no dancing in bars
- There are no late bars
- You can’t find many bars that will serve you beer without ordering food
Now that makes life difficult for us backpackers, but the effort in their madness is to control and defer the attraction for stag/hen parties. Which is something you can’t blame them for. However luckily for you reading this, I always find my way around these rules. At the end of the night ask some locals about Los Pimientos. It’s a little social gathering (mainly locals) where a camp fire is light out of prying eyes, and the party continues into to early hours of the morning.
Chile is one of the more expensive countries in South America. In fat, the prices are pretty similar to what you would be accustomed to as a westerner. Avoid Caracoles Street, this has the most tourists and the highest prices. For everything.
For reasonably priced food check out El Huerto on Gustavo le Paige Street. Go between 12:30 – 13:00 for the best selection of food. Once they sell what they have its gone.
Another tip is that when you are booking a tour in one of the hundreds of rep shops, make sure to ask about ‘trespasso’. You do not want this. This is when your rep will outsource seats to other companies. Even though you booked with a reputable one, you could end up in the worst. So make sure to ask.
Also with these tour companies, they don’t seem to be on Tripadvisor. The most recent reviews are 5 years old. Ask around the hostels for the most reputable booking agencies.
Oh and don’t forget to stock up on coca leaves. Yes, the main plant used for making cocaine is actually a preventative for altitude sickness. These are only legal in the high altitude towns so make sure to dispose of them after.
All in all make sure to take full advantage of this unique landscape, hire out some bicycles ($4,000 CLP for 6 hours) and feast your eyes on the inredible mily way and stars that appear here.
Ultimate Tourist Rating: ★★★☆ Recommended Days: 2/3
Valle de la Luna – Devils Throat – Meteorite Museum