The Chilean Customs Office was located in San Pedro de Atacama. The roads in Chile were much better than those in Bolivia – like day and night. We traveled for about two miles on a hard-packed road then it was highway the rest of the way. The Customs Offices was located on the outskirts of San Pedro. Our paperwork only took a few minutes and we were official.
San Pedro is the hub for many touring companies that provide sightseeing, hiking, and bicycling tours of the desert area. The city of San Pedro de Atacama is much like Santa Fe, New Mexico or Sedona, Arizona in the USA – very rustic, with many expensive hotels and restaurants.
Chile seemed to be more expense than any of the other countries I had traveled through. Food, hotels, gas, and oil were more expensive. Since San Pedro was a tourist type of area and very expensive, I decided to move on.
Kevin was headed in a completely different direction then I so we said our goodbyes. I ran into Frank and Gaby again and we rode together to Calama. We heard that in a small town, just a few miles from Calama, was located the Chuquicamata copper mine which this supposed to be the largest in the world. We decided to take a two-hour tour that was very interesting. The tour showed how the raw material is mined and recovered, the equipment used, and the mine itself – “the hole in the ground” – which is huge!
From Calama we headed toward the port city of Antofagasta. We crossed the Atacama Desert – the driest in the world. A lady working at the copper mine told us that it has been three years since they have seen a drop of rain.