From La Puna to the Atacama desert

Mr. and Mrs. van Son

Several times we have travelled with Sapa Pana Travel. So when we had the idea to visit the Atacama desert in Chile we made contact again.  Sapa Pana Travel advised us to combine the desert with La Puna in Northern Argentina. Although we had never heard of this, we decided to do so. Also this time we were not disappointed. In fact, it turned out to be the most beautiful trip ever!

From Buenos Aires we flew to Salta where we were picked up by our guide in a four wheel drive car. Packed and loaded our journey through La Puna and the Atacama desert could begin. The drive from Salta to Cafayate took us through an impressive area with lots of cacti and beautiful red coloured rock formations. We slept in a wine resort where we could relax.

The next part of our journey became more and more remote and lonelier. Not much later we reached the area La Puna. Here it is almost impossible to drive yourself, first of all because there are few roads and there are no signs. Secondly, you don't even want to drive. Nature is so overwhelming that you only want to look around you.

This vast landscape suddenly makes you feel very small. An incredible experience.

The village of El Peñon was the next stop where we spent the night. This is a place in a very small village. We slept in a good but simple accommodation.  From here we visited a volcano and drove through very different landscapes. It looked as if we were driving over the moon, we were driving over endless salt plains, we passed white sand dunes, lava fields and saw llamas, flamingos and vicuñas. Because of the loneliness in this vast landscape you suddenly feel very small. An incredible experience.

In the meantime we had risen from 1,700 meters, to 2,500 and to 3,500 meters. Our guide was very well prepared and had an extensive equipment in case something would happen, which gave a safe feeling. From Tolar Grande we drove to a Sulphite mine 5,350 meters high. On the way we were surprised by a village that rose as an oasis from the deserted landscape. Here we were invited to eat lamb meat together with the villagers. On our way to the Sulphite mine we saw a different colour and also the mine was impressive, despite the wind and chilliness at that altitude. Add to that the explanations from our guide and it was a great and unforgettable day.

The last part of the route we drove to Chile. As soon as we crossed the border, the road changed back into asphalt and we slowly got back into civilization with other people, we had to get used to that. The loneliness and purity of the Argentine Puna makes the area so special. We ended our trip in San Pedro de Atacama. In a beautiful hotel with all the luxury we looked back on an unforgettable journey. One thing is for sure, this trip is number 1 for us!

Thank you very much Johan and the team of Sapa Pana Travel.

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