16 Nov Chile’s north coast – a different kind of sea
The drive from the far north of Chile to just before the capital Santiago is admittedly often very lonely, not to say boring; The route runs for hours close to the sea, through a desert-like landscape where saltpetre, lithium and other minerals are extracted in various mines; Nevertheless, we have discovered two highlights and would like to introduce them to you; One of these is the Parque Nacional “Pan de Azucar” (Sugar Loaf Mountain); A marine national park where, depending on the season, dolphins, penguins and whales can be found.
Beautiful bays framed by barren mountains, a few beach bars with super tasty seafood, that’s it. The cold ocean currents and the desert in the hinterland often create a fog that gives the whole area a mystical quality; Baden? At least during our visit, the water felt like it was 15 degrees (similar to the outside temperature), which is not exactly inviting for a swim with meter-high breakers; But endless walks on the beach without other tourists also had their charm;
Further south, in the area around the town of La Serena (approx. 500 km north of Santiago de Chile), we discovered another highlight of our trip; We actually wanted to visit the Parque Nacional Fray Jorge, but had to realize that it was closed due to renovation work (these things happen from time to time and are simply part of it); What we did know was that this area ( chico Atacama – the small Atacama desert) is one of the best spots in the world for stargazing. The largest astrological observatories are located here – unfortunately only reserved for scientists at night.
However, we found the “small” version at the “Astrocamping Viento Sur” campsite; The owners Natalia and Patricio have set up a “stargazing campsite” here, from where they offer tours at night. As it was low season, we were the only guests and therefore had a private tour; The two of them showed and explained the starry sky to us on a hike until after midnight and took amazing pictures with a professional camera. We have never been this close to the Milky Way.