Day 363: San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
I don’t really like tours. I don’t know why but I already dread them. Maybe it’s the strict structure, the rush, or the feeling that we are cattle being herded.
But San Pedro de Atacama is reknown for its tours with the most popular being the Valle de la Luna at sunset when you can see the desert mountains change into shades of orange, pink and purple.
So when I met with Raymundo to discuss tour options at Tierra Atacama I was really disappointed that they didn’t go at sunset.
After all that’s what all the other travelers do.
That’s exactly why Tierra Atacama doesn’t do it.
After some initial sulking I sucked it up, how could anyone be a spoiled brat here. Instead I went to the spa for an amazing body scrub and washed away the spoiled princess I was quickly becoming.
The tour group was really small, only me and a really great Brazilian couple so we decided it was easiest for everyone to speak Spanish.
They told me they have two kids but always take time to travel as a couple to remember that they aren’t just parents.
I made a mental note of this should my ovaries not dry up and I die alone and childless.
And it turns out Raymundo was completely right. We arrived at Valle de la Luna and no one was there. We walked around desert sands through the valley and it was so silent we could hear the salt cracking from expanding in the heat.
I wish I could have somehow documented how special that moment was, but it remains in my memory.
As we stopped along many of the sites to take photos Raymundo shared that at sunset there are line-ups of tourists waiting to get their obligatory shot of the jewel toned mountains.
And then I realized something.
I didn’t get the photos with the beautiful shades at dusk but the experience was so much better. We were alone in the valley with no one rushing us forward, we took our time, we weren’t the cattle.
Sometimes I focus too much on getting the perfect photo and not being present in the moment. I’m not a national geographic photographer, and never will be. I need to relax and focus more on where I am than documenting it.
And when I returned home and saw the photos I realized I should have never doubted Raymundo. All along the way he ensured we had a great time and I still have great photos to show for it.
If you want tips on photography for beginners check out this great post by Hecktic Travels.