Upon arrival in Chañaral, we found a tour guide who spoke English that was able to take us to Parque Nacional Pan de Azucar, which literally means Sugar Bread National Park! We needed to grab food and fuel as we were going to be camping, so for a small fee he allowed us to store our bags at his house. Because it was lunch time, we had to wait until the hardware store opened until we got fuel and when it finally opened, we were told they didnt carry the fuel we were looking for...we ended up wasting a couple of hours so that we could buy fuel and our guide just ended up giving us free fuel, though I not quite sure its the right kind, because my stove likes to catch on fire sometimes!
He gave us a ride to the park, which looks no different from the surrounding area in which we probably could have camped for free, but pretty none the less...and we saw a cute little fox! The campsites were 5000 pesos each, but they were right on the beach-it was gorgeous. The next day we spent the entire afternoon in the sun and playing in the ocean, where we saw baby sharks, pelicans, all sorts of annoying birds and the odd Humboldt penguin fishing. In the afternoon we rent a boat with other tourists and took a trip to the Isla Pan de Azucar where we saw thousands of Humboldt penguins (I still giggle when I think of how they waddle and jump from rock to rock!) and a colony of sea lions...very cool and they look much betterd than the ones they keep at the Calgary Zoo! The sun however, did a toll on Mike and his feet and thighs were burnt to a crisp from wearing sandals all day. We got a picture, its pretty funny, but he was in severe pain for a couple of days afterwards!
Im not sure why we decided to try it again, because we were on a side road of the Panamericana, but we hadnt reserved a colectivo back to town because we didnt want to pay the extra money and were hoping to catch a lift from a passerby. The next morning we waited for a good couple of hours and not a single vehicle drove by! Lucky for us, an Italian man took a day trip into the park we his rented 4x4 and offered us a ride, not only to Chañaral, but all the way down to Copiapo, it was awesome. Also, on the way back we saw the strangest thing-Ive never seen anything like it in my life! The sky was completely blue except for a patch of clouds that were coloured with all of the different colours of the rainbow: purple, blue, green, yellow, orange and red! And they werent dull, but the most brilliant colours and they just kept changing-so weird!