Gathering in a hostel kitchen together for the first time, 7 of us bikers got together and decided to create an international motorbike gang, 'The Bad Bitches'. Formed in the top corner of Argentina we began scheming about what mischief we could dish up. The 5000m Paso de Jama was agreed upon and in next to no time we were on our way to the Atacama desert of Chile.
Having become dizzy from the endless switchbacks that quickly sent us up to 4000m we decided to push on as the sun set to some abandoned houses we’d heard of while the rest of the gang opted for the warmer hostels. Abandoned houses was a generous term for the crumpling pile of mudbrick walls we found but nonetheless this is where we would camp for the night. The moment the sun disappeared the temperature plummeted and it wasn’t until the morning we found out it had been about -15 overnight. This definitely explains why it was such a cold sleep and literally everything had frozen solid. Our water bottles resemble ice blocks, our sleeping bags crispy, even the bananas had frozen solid.
After coaxing the bikes back into life from their cryogenic state we warmed ourselves up and met the gang to cross into Chile. The next 200km were some of the most surreal landscapes we’ve come across. The scale is impossible to realize, with no vegetation these altiplanic hills and planes stretch as far as the eye can see. A ‘nearby’ hill turns out to be 100km away. It truely is an isolated, desolate landscape devoid of life except for the few flamingos and llamas that somehow exist in such harsh, subsistent conditions.
Having crossed into Chile the road suddenly dived, dead straight, almost 2000 vertical meters from the plains into the town of San Pedro de Atacama. We set up base camp 2km out of the city in an idyllic sand patch under a beautiful big ol’ tree.
We filled our days with the incredible geology of the region. Visiting Valle de la Luna (valley of the moon) where we could crawl the the cracks in the canyon walls, traverse sheer cliffs and look out of the unique landscapes.
Not far from town we found a desert Oasis where no other tourists bothered to go so we spent the day swimming and exploring this little gem of life in the middle of the desert.
However the crem de la crem of San Pedro de Atacama for us was the Dos Ojos swimming holes. Two perfectly circular pools perched out in the middle of the salt flats. The salt seeps into the water and creates an incredibly floaty body of water. With small cliffs to jump of we spent the good part of a day here alone with our Italian biker friends. We become so relaxed in our own slice of paradise that we let our clothes escape from us just in time for a tourist bus to rock up and spot a wild Scott in his natural habitat.
These desert pools were the perfect last hurrah in Chile before we took on a 3 day, wild trip to cross high mountain passes and make it into the beautiful country of Bolivia. We’ll fill you in on that story shortly.