Stargazing in the desert – San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

The four of us (Jaap, Farima, Alaina, and I) arrived in San Pedro de Atacama around 1 pm, checked into a hostel and went to grab lunch. San Pedro de Atacama is most widely known for stargazing so we booked a tour that night to learn about them. After watching a short clip about the universe and history of stars, we were taken up to a rooftop where a couple of telescopes were set up for us to observe them more closely. First we saw the moon and its craters, then our guide, Jared, showed us the Southern Cross and how to differentiate it from other similar looking ones. Starting from the bottom, then left, top, and right the brightness of the stars decrease in the Southern Cross and the bottom star is near a black hole. Two other cool things we got to see was a cluster of 300,000 stars and Saturn. It was a pretty cool experience overall, but would have been nice if we got to observe more planets as well.

The next day Farima and I decided to go sandboarding since we missed out on it in Peru. Though it was a little difficult at first, once you got the feel of the sand it turned out to be a lot of fun! I presumed knowing how to snowboard would have made it easier, but I think it was actually the opposite. The technique in sandboarding is very different than snowboarding and it took me a little while to get used to the sand since sand is less dense and when you try to carve, it’s easy to get stuck in it. Walking back up the sand dune after each ride was exhausting since it took about 15 minutes to walk up but only 15 seconds to ride down. So we boarded for a couple hours max and afterwards headed to the Valle de Luna (Moon Valley) to enjoy our free-when-you-book-the-tour Pisco sours while watching the sunset. The sunset turned the surrounding mountain peaks various shades of pink, orange, and yellow and it was beautiful. I don’t think I will ever tire of watching the sunset anywhere in the world. We headed back to town afterwards and made plans to meet everyone on our sandboarding tour for dinner the same night.

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Our time in Chile was very short lived, but we are excited to return and explore the rest of the country in September. After a couple nights in San Pedro, we were off to Argentina! Alaina, Farima, Jaap, and I boarded a bus the following morning and headed to Salta. Since there was no night bus due to the Argentinian border closing at 4 pm, our 12 hour bus journey resulted in a full day of traveling, something I try to avoid.

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