If Aladdin’s cave is real, I reckon it’ll be here. And if you’ve never sweated out of all your orifices before, you will here.
Here’s the magic of backpacking San Pedro de Atacama. I was a big fan of this little desert town because it was so unlike any other place I’d been. There’s two things I remember thinking when I arrived off the bus from the salt flat tour 1. Fuck it’s hot 2. Sand.
Sticking with fellow backpackers from the tour we had a little wander and called into the first hostel we saw, we got lucky with Hostal Florida. A nice little spot with a garden, decent showers and hot sweaty dorms. We settled and headed straight to Todo natural, which did meals exactly as it says on the tin, the Spanish tin, all natural. I destroyed a salad dish with chicken for next to nothing and a solid fruit smoothie.
One thing that struck me in this desert town, and something I realised as I spent two months in Chile, was how good the infrastructure was. Proper bars, cafes and restaurants with a logical grid layout and great WIFI. Chemists, hospitals and beautiful buildings all in the middle of a scorching desert. It puts England’s inability to deal with simple snow to shame.
I spent two hours learning about meteor rocks in the space dome one afternoon and wandered into the desert for some typical Instagram shots the next. The star gazing is supposed to be well worth the tour but you need to catch it on the right night, we didn’t so we got hammered. The rest of my time was spent meandering the grid, poking my nose into café’s and kicking back in the hostel garden. Two days was enough. The northern beaches of Chile were calling.
- Stay at Hostal Florida, nice little spot with a garden and decent showers
- Stay for maybe 2 days, it’s enough
- Go star gazing
- Walk out into the desert in the evening and take some wicked photos
- Visit the star gazing centre to see some asteroid pieces and be a nerd for an afternoon
- Head to Iquique in the north of Chile or Santiago via coach from here
- Underestimate the heat of this place. The nights especially in the hostel dorms are a sweat pit
Tips for healthy eats
- Todo natural was a beauty for delicious food. So reasonable and healthy that I went back everyday for food.
- Tins of tuna are available in the local shops along with fruit and veg to cook up in the hostel.
- Although not quite so healthy, Adobe was a great place for some nice craft beers.
How to get meat for that protein hit
- I struggled to find anywhere selling meats to cook so ate at Todo natural for dinner and sometimes lunch. The chicken dishes were generous on the meat front.
- Being in a group it’s always a pleasure to take the hit on money front for a restaurant to enjoy the company and local scran.
Where to exercise
Near the bus station is a football filed and play area with plenty of space and areas to hang a TRX from or do a workout of sorts. There’s space to run, stretch and a playground to do a variety of pull-ups from.