Granpalu's South American excursion 2013 travel blog

 

San Pedro Church after a record rain event (more than 100mls in...

Atacama desert

Chuquicamata Mine

Chuquicamata Mine

Chuquicamata Mine

Chuquicamata Mine - that wall is 3km away and those are 100...

Tsunami Warning sign (Glad we live on Tablelands)

Dinner - our entertainers for the evening

Dinner - Lost in translation 1- a light meal

Dinner - Lost in translation 2 - Camomile "tea"

Presidential Suite

Presidential Suite


Final walk around San Pedro.

From desert to sea...from no vegetation and dust to ocean. What a spectacular contrast and the road was magnificent ...all tar!

On arrival in Antafogasta we were given an upgrade to the Presidential Suite much to G & A's annoyance, although they were also upgraded to a Superior Suite. Enormous rooms with balcony overlooking the ocean. Haven't seen so many birds for ages. We were only there for 1 night! Met an older Queensland couple who had been driving around for the last 3 mths in the car that they had brought with them.

Very lucky to discover a local traditional restaurant with 2 pianists and excellent food. Problem with translation, check photos.

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Had early walk into town centre of San Pedro, buying some local wares. Picked up by guide Anita and taken to Calama (almost completely barren desert en route), where we joined a tour group at the Codelco centre to have a visit to the Chuquicamata mine. Very informative tour (in Spanish and English), with visit to now abandoned town of Chuquicamata (largely to be preserved as a national monument after abandonment for environmental reasons). The open pit mine is huge (~5 km x 2-3 km x 1 km deep), with new developments for u/g mining. The bus tour went a short distance down into the main pit. Also toured processing plants (acid leach, mill, smelter, moly plant, sulphuric acid plant) before returning to Calama. Picked up by Anita and transferred to Antofagasta, crossing the driest part of the Atacama Desert, passing several abandoned salitreras (nitrate (caliche) mines, where the evaporative nitrate salts were mined from the regolith. Got to Antofagasta late arvo and booked into Hotel Antofagasta on waterfront. L and P scored a “presidential suite”, certainly very up-market. Walked around city at night and found a good rest. where we ate lots of meat (parilla; excellent cordero) and were entertained by duet of local pianists. Fun evening despite essentially no English. It is evident that northern Chile is booming because of the copper mining industry, lots of economic activity.

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