2007 Roadtrip From Susques, Argentina to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

The road from Argentina through the Paso de Jama descends into the Atacama Desert in an interminably long and steep but rather straight path. Coming down, the white salt of the Salar de Atacama, the endless sand and the oasis of San Pedro de Atacama are all you see, with a backdrop of the Cordillera de Domeyko in the distance
Looking up from Laguna Cejas to the road we took and Volcán Licancábur

San Pedro is a tiny town that has grown for tourists. It is a natural oasis, aided by irrigation canals. We arrived at around 1:30pm after clearing Chilean border controls, where we thought we might have a problem. A young woman from the aduana said we needed a yellow paper to bring in our car (that had been taken by the Argentinean border control). Fortunately her boss told her to look online and found the paperwork from when we left Chile in December. They didn’t inspect the contents of the car, luckily.
We checked all of the top end hotels and a few others as well. We knew that San Pedro would be expensive but the prices were ridiculous. On top of that, they include 3 meals and tours that we didn’t want. The famous, Awasi, is approximately US $390 for room and breakfast only. The room was large but had no sitting area. The sitting area was an outdoor shared patio. Most of the rooms in other hotels were small, with no sitting area and without adequate storage for us. Generally there weren’t TVs or other amenities. The Hotel Kimal seemed like a little rabbit warren to me. The Explora is like a camp for adults with food and activities. Dimitri estimated it would cost about US$1000 a day for the 2 of us at the Explora. The facilities were barn-like. The rooms were larger than most but definitely not worth the price. We were impressed with La Aldea but that hotel couldn’t accommodate us and we weren’t even able to see a room.
When we got to the Antiplanico, we met the general manager, Maria Angelica. (Antiplanico, Domingo Atienza 282, San Pedro de Atacama, fono (56-55) 851-212, e-mail: contacto@antiplanico.cl, web: http://www.antiplanico.cl/ contacto@antiplanico.cl). She said she had a group that had reserved almost all of the rooms but she would call the tour leader to see if one of the rooms wasn’t needed. She showed us the family room. It was two rooms with a hall between the two and a back patio. The main double-bedded room had a couch of sorts (actually a bed built into the wall with lots of pillows on it) and a desk for the computer was added. The second bedroom had 3 beds and we used it for our suitcases. The storage was adequate. Maria Angelica gave us the family room for the standard room rate of US $160 (it’s regular price being US $260). There was no TV and no Internet in the room. However, there was a hotspot in the reception area that we could use. Maria Angelica was very charming and we enjoyed talking to her during our stay.
Audre waving from our suite at Antiplanico. Can you see our bikes on the patio?
The group that had reserved the hotel was a from Xerox Belguim. Dimitri had worked for Xerox in the States for 20 years before he took early retirement in 1988. He had fun talking to the Xeroxeans being rewarded for a good sales year.