Cacti Canyon

24th November 2015. Atacama Desert, Northern Chile.

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This afternoon, we headed off towards Laguna Cejar.  You’ll see that in the next post.  This post comprises images from the journey there.

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Atacama Desert, Cacti, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, llama, Nature, Photography, Travel, vicuña, Widlife, Wilderness

Here we have two vicuñas near the side of the road, from the bus window.

Vicuñas were protected under the Incas but after then, hunting reduced the population to 6,000.  Now they’re protected again and the population is up to 350,000.  Their wool is even more valuable than that of alpacas, so to discourage poaching they are caught each year, shorn and released again.  Vicuñas are coloured as you see whereas guanacos (the other wild South American camelid) are variable in colour and have larger rounded ears rather than small pointed ones.

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Atacama Desert, Cacti, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, llama, Nature, Photography, Travel, vicuña, Widlife, Wilderness

The colours would be enhanced at sunrise and sunset, but the Atacama Desert landscapes are still majestic.

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Atacama Desert, Cacti, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, llama, Nature, Photography, Travel, vicuña, Widlife, Wilderness

We stopped at a village and this is a llama belonging to one of the villagers.

You can tell it’s not a wild vicuña or guanaco because they’re not very skilled at tying ribbons.  Alpacas are about half the size of the llama and have much finer wool.  They are all camelids and evolved in North America, leaving about two or three million years ago at about the same time as the ancestors of the dromedary and bactrian camels, who went east rather than south.  North American camelids became extinct quite recently (geologically speaking) due to either ice ages or humans or both.

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Atacama Desert, Cacti, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, llama, Nature, Photography, Travel, vicuña, Widlife, Wilderness

Here is the village.

While it is a “tourist village”, it is also a traditional village where people live.

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Atacama Desert, Cacti, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, llama, Nature, Photography, Travel, vicuña, Widlife, Wilderness

We later stopped to explore a canyon lined by cacti.

This is not a known tourist destination but you can easily find it by driving along all the roads in the Atacama Desert and stopping to explore every hundred metres or so.  Probably shouldn’t take more than a few months.

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Atacama Desert, Cacti, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, llama, Nature, Photography, Travel, vicuña, Widlife, Wilderness .

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Atacama Desert, Cacti, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, llama, Nature, Photography, Travel, vicuña, Widlife, Wilderness .

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Atacama Desert, Cacti, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, llama, Nature, Photography, Travel, vicuña, Widlife, Wilderness

Members of our group heading down the canyon.

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Atacama Desert, Cacti, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, llama, Nature, Photography, Travel, vicuña, Widlife, Wilderness .

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Atacama Desert, Cacti, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, llama, Nature, Photography, Travel, vicuña, Widlife, Wilderness

Heading back now.

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Atacama Desert, Cacti, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, llama, Nature, Photography, Travel, vicuña, Widlife, Wilderness .

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Atacama Desert, Cacti, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, llama, Nature, Photography, Travel, vicuña, Widlife, Wilderness .

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Atacama Desert, Cacti, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, llama, Nature, Photography, Travel, vicuña, Widlife, Wilderness .

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Atacama Desert, Cacti, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, llama, Nature, Photography, Travel, vicuña, Widlife, Wilderness .

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Atacama Desert, Cacti, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, llama, Nature, Photography, Travel, vicuña, Widlife, Wilderness

And as we depart, some of the cacti wave goodbye.

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8 comments on “Cacti Canyon

  1. Robert Hayes says:

    FANTASTIC! I don’t know how your body takes this! Wonderful images to share.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. adelle says:

    Wow !!! I didn’t get to see this place when we were in Chile. I missed out !!!

    Like

  3. Hmm, wonder if I would become acclimated if I stayed to explore for a couple months. Do you know what kind of cacti they were? They look as big as Arizona’s saguaro, but with generally less branching, and more spines, more like cholla/teddy bear cactus.

    Like

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