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Andes in North Chile - Exploring Volcano Land
Salt Lakes and Volcanoes

2nd April 2002 - 22.12 GMT

Around San Pedro

We spent almost a week in and around San Pedro. We stayed on a camping ground, which wasn't too bad, but a bit noisy and not that safe.

Valle de la Luna

Standard procedure for tourists is to visit it by car in a guided tour or to rent a bike. The bike may be the best choice. We did it by foot, it took an eternity and we only saw half of the valley.

Tatio Geyser

We booked a jeep trip with a couple of other tourists, left San Pedro around 4:30 a.m. and reached the geyser field shortly before sun rise.
On our way back we were lucky to see some wildlife, had an excellent guide and saw some really challenging volcanoes with roads leading up to the summit.

Tatio Geiser

Geysir de Tatio


Salar de Atacama, flamingos and Laguna Chaca

We made it my bike, but it will come cheaper with a guided jeep tour. We put the rented bike into the bus to Tocanao and rode for +/- 2 hours. Quiet annoying, that some truck sprinkled water on the dirt track. So we were biking in the driest place on earth and got covered with mud.

Climbing Sairecabur and the strange effects of altitude

In the end I got lucky and "made a summit". We were looking in whole San Pedro for Volcano climbing, but there was very little offer. Lascar was our first choice, as it is considered to be rather easy. But Lascar was pretty active at this time, so it was too dangerous. In the end we found what we were looking for. A guided tour up Sairecabur. A bit higher then Licancabur and with the same fantastic view. We made right away the inscription.

The next day, we were picked up very early in the morning by our guide Carlos and another client named Jim. This guy was a bit too "British". Not talking very much and a bit arrogant. In fact we thought, the guy was a real climber and just here to do some workout. But the opposite turned out to be the truth. Later on the way down he was almost crying of fear and we had to take him by the hand.
We left the jeep in the ruins of some mining camp, already on the bolivian side at around 5000 m and started the long and exhausting climb over boulders and rocks. But progress was slow. As we reached the return deadline at 15:30, there were still 70 m missing. Jim was too exhausted to continue and Ros was pissed about Carlos' behavior, so just Carlos and me made some kind of sprint to the summit.
The summit was emotional. Some hugs, some tears of joy and an enormous amount of satisfaction. But after taking the summit pictures, the effects of altitude suddenly set in. I was euphoric, still with some power left, but fighting with my balance. I felt really drunk. Soon afterwards I had to vomit several times. Better to get down as soon as possible.

The descent became difficult, as it was a race against time. The sun was going down, the shadows grew longer and we knew, that it would be freezing quiet soon. We were also handicapped by Jim, who needed encouragement for every step. With the very last light of the day we reached finally the car.


Part 3



map http://www.collahuasi.cl/comp1_1.html

aucan volcano.indstate.edu/ cvz/aucaimg.html