Arriving in La Serena around 0530 we were both a bit frazzled but Dan (who left us in Valparaiso and arrived here ahead of us) has hired a car for today with another guy Lars (Norwegian) for us all to go up the Elqui valley for the day. Obviously we couldn’t pass up the chance to go out for a great day sightseeing especially when it would save us a heap of money – not having to go on one of the official tours. Plus we’re not very well behaved sheep!
A few naps in the back of the car helped us through the day and we even went to the observatory in the evening, thanks to Lars being happy to take on the driving all day. Lars has been travelling for a few months now; he stayed in La Paz for a month or more and bought a motorbike there that he’s now using to get around.
The scenery once again is stunning but very different to what we’ve experienced so far. It’s certainly getting drier and rather than trees there are just tons and tons of giant cacti everywhere. We stopped at a dam where there was a large metal sculpture that hummed in the wind like a huge viola! Really cool! Then we had lunch in the town or Vicuna while we booked the Observatory tour before going on to the end of the road (quite literally) and taking in a Pisco distillery tour on the way back. Pisco is claimed by Chile and also Peru to be their national drink (usually as Pisco Sour) – a little bit of a war going on there, a bit like Devon and Cornwall on who 1st came up with the Cornish pasty!!
Also, included in the itinerary for the day was a trip to the top of a mirador via, the route we drove took us by a stinky rubbish tip, so we knew we´d took a wrong turn. Our perseverance paid off as the view was amazing.
The visit to the Observatory gained mixed reviews. Huw really enjoyed it; Lars thought the one he´d gone to in San Pedro (where we´re headed next) was better; Bernice and Dan thought the telescoped would be bigger although Dan was happy he go a photo of Saturn´s rings…..