Day 6: Atacama to Ramaditas

Today’s agenda was an early wake-up call at Explora Atacama followed by a drive across the border into Bolivia heading north to the Ramaditas Mountain Lodge. The drive takes about eight hours, including a few stops. No problem! However, when we met Carlos and Nico, they told us that the border control office was closed and we would need to go to the downtown Atacama location to get our papers checked and stamped. We arrived at about 7:15am, and waited in line with the other tour groups until they opened at 8am.

What’s worse, Chilean border control or gloom hands?

We finally stepped up to the window at 9:20am and got the all-clear to proceed. Matt was ready to contribute a blog rant about Bolivia’s continued efforts to kill our time trying to get into the country, but as it turns out, this one was on Chile. We believe they closed their (indoor) border control due to “high winds.” After departing San Pedro de Atacama, it was a 40 minute drive to the border.

“Goodbye, thanks for nothing!” – Carlos

We said goodbye to our Atacama team and met our new guide, Oscar, and driver, Abel. Oscar helped us get our entry stamps and show the friendly Bolivian officials all the right paperwork in all the right places. Finally – three and a half hours after leaving – we were in Bolivia!

Bolivia, what more do you want from us?!?!

This part of Bolivia is located within the Andes mountains, a volcanic range. Our first stop was at Laguna Blanca. The lagoon is white due to the boron deposits. This area is also interesting because the rocks show both underwater coral and volcanic basalt. Other tourists not from the Midwest looked amazed to be walking on the frozen lake.

Checking out the basalt and coral

But Ice skates were not on the packing list!

Next stop was Laguna Verde, appropriately named for its green color. The bacteria in this lagoon is green and becomes more vibrant with the sun and wind. A little later down the road, we stopped at an area called Salvador Dali mountain. We did not see melting watches, but we did see a variety of colors and vast spaces.

Rocks and green lake with Oscar

Desert road, take me home

Warping to the desert level (Chalviri Hot Springs)

We then drove into Sal de Mañana, a caldera on an active volcano. We saw fumaroles, which are vents that release gas and steam. Unlike geysers that need time to refill and erupt, the pressure release of a fumarole is constant. We walked around many fumaroles of different sizes and bubbling.

Watch out for fumaroles

The final stop was Laguna Colorada, commonly known as Red Lagoon due to its – you guessed it – red color. Similar to Laguna verde, the color is caused by the type of bacteria that thieves in extreme conditions. This is also where three types of flamingoes live. We walked along the shore and then stopped for lunch.

These flamingoes are not stuck… yet

Our lunch stop next to Laguna Colorada

Lunch with a view

All sorts of colors in this area

Atacama parking lot

With another two hours of desert to cross before reaching our final destination, Oscar and Abel appointed us DJs. With this vital task, we turned to the two best playlists on Matt’s phone — Adam and James’ high school playlists. Oscar and Abel are both ~40 years old, so it was a smashing success. Well done.

Dusty, dry road makes for dirty cars

Finally, we drove the last hour and half to the very remote mountain lodge. The only people here are us, one other family of three (who will only be here tonight), the guides, drivers, and lodge staff. We all had dinner together (family style) before getting ready for the night.

Home for the next two nights

Room with a view — as always

As always, the internet may or may not be available over the next week. Keep checking back!

1 Comments on “Day 6: Atacama to Ramaditas”

  1. Sounds like your day might have taken a bit of patience! Glad you made it to where you are supposed to be. Let’s hope they let you out if the country!! Did those mud pots remind you of Yellowstone, Matthew? Anyway hope you have some exciting hikes in the days ahead. The videos are great but it sounds so windyyyyy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *