Salar de Tara

26th November 2015. Salar de Tara, Atacama Desert, Northern Chile.

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(This post is out of sequence.  It was supposed to be before the previous monochrome post).

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife

This is Licancabur and we are heading towards Salar de Tara.  Licancabur has been an active volcano for at least 56,000 years and maybe 220,000 years.  It’s last eruption in 1993 was a large eruption that saw ash fall as far away as Buenos Aires, nearly 3,000 kilometres away.

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife

We are now approaching Salar de Tara, or Tara Salt Flats, in the distance on the right.  In the middle left above the cliff and the truck is Los Monjes de la Pacana or the Pecan Monks.  These are eroded volcanic plugs and rock structures.

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife

Perhaps a monk, perhaps a giant moai.

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife

Here is a closer view of Salar de Tara, with some vicuñas grazing in the foreground.

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife

We are close to the border of both Bolivia and Argentina and this is a protected Ramsar wetland area.

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife

So, quickly, how many flamingos do you think are in this image (you may need to click on it for a larger view to see it better).

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife

There is an austere majesty to some of the views here.  And there is a stone pen on this spit of land, whether for llamas, goats pr sheep I do not know.

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife

Salar de Tara and foreground tussocks.

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife

Eroded volcanic cliffs.

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife

Andean geese.

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife

Chilean flamingo.

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife

Vicuñas (and flamingos in the distance).

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife

Black-hooded sierra-finch.

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife

Now again, you’ll probably need to click on it, how many flamingos are in this image?

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife

Three vicuñas  at the foot of a cliff.

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Andean Goose, Atacama Desert, Black-hooded sierra-finch, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Sala de Tara, Travel, vicuña, Volcan Lascar, Wilderness, Wildlife

We are heading back to San Pedro de Atacama now.  I think I know where this is but there’s no name on the map.  There is a road in the distance and two empty trucks heading towards Argentina.

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Answers:  219 flamingos in the first image and 148 in the second.

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This was the last Atacama post (apart from a mono post or two coming up next).

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Laguna de Aguas Calientes, Laguna Miscanti and Laguna Miñiques

25th November 2015. Salar de Atacama, Atacama Desert, Northern Chile.

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We set off to visit three salt lakes high in the Atacama Desert.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife

This image was take from the moving bus.  I was struck by the lenticular cloud over the volcano.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife

We had stopped and got out of the bus for this one.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife

… and the reason was to photograph this vicuña, grazing by the side of the road.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife

This image and the next one, we are en route.  I’m not sure whether they were taken from inside or outside the bus.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife

And now we have arrived at Salar de Aguas Calientes.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife

In other words, the Lake of Warm Waters, presumably due to the volcanoes towering above.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife

There was also quite an array of lenticular clouds.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife

The area was designated a wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention in 1996.

.Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife

This is windswept foam gathering at the edge of the lake..

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife

We are at 4,850 metres, or 16,000 feet.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife

We are on our way again now, still with lots of spectacular lenticular clouds around.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife

I was clearly out of the bus for this one.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife

And now we have arrived at Laguna Miscanti.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife

We’re a little bit lower here, at 4,140 metres or 13,500 feet.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife

The lake is up to ten metres deep.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife

It has no surface outflow.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife

Looking back at Lago Miscanti, as I walk to Lago Miñiques.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife

I didn’t have any problem with the altitude, even with a photographic pack of about 16kg.  No prospect of running, though.  You have to take things a little bit easy.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife

This is Laguna Miñiques, at 4,300 metres or 14,000 feet, with Miñiques volcano towering above it.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife

On the way back, we stopped at the village of Toconao.  This is a tour bus from a different company, whose passengers were wandering around the town and had been for some years.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Salar de Aguas Calientes, Salar Miñiques, Salar Miscanti, Travel, vicuña, Wilderness, Wildlife

And this is the door of the bell tower.

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Flamingos

25th November 2015. Laguna Chaxa, Salar de Atacama, Atacama Desert, Northern Chile.

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Andean Flamingo, Atacama Desert, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Laguna Chaxa, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Atacama, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Chilean flamingo in front of Licancabur volcano.

.Andean Flamingo, Atacama Desert, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Laguna Chaxa, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Atacama, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Chilean flamingo along with two kelp gulls, maybe.

Probably a young flamingo.  They get their colour from the algae they eat and are paler when young.

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Andean Flamingo, Atacama Desert, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Laguna Chaxa, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Atacama, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Andean flamingo.

This and following flamingos are all Andean flamingos, one of the worlkd’s rarest flamingos.  The easiest way to tell them apart from the Chilean flamingos are that the Andean flamingos have yellow legs, whereas the Chilean flamingos have greyish legs with pink joints.

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Andean Flamingo, Atacama Desert, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Laguna Chaxa, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Atacama, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

We are at Laguna Chaxa in Salar de Atacama, which is the largest salt flat in Chile and third largest in the world.  All three are in South America.  Salar de Atacama is 3,000 km² in area and 100 km x 80 km (which doesn’t seem to add up but that’s what Wikipedia says).  It is 2,300 metres above sea level and 55 km south of San Pedro de Atacama.

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Andean Flamingo, Atacama Desert, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Laguna Chaxa, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Atacama, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

For those for whom this may be of interest, all images on this page were taken with a Nikon D800 and a 300mm f2.8 lens, mostly with a 1.4x teleconverter, and using a tripod.

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Andean Flamingo, Atacama Desert, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Laguna Chaxa, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Atacama, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Andean Flamingo, Atacama Desert, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Laguna Chaxa, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Atacama, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Andean Flamingo, Atacama Desert, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Laguna Chaxa, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Atacama, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Andean Flamingo, Atacama Desert, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Laguna Chaxa, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Atacama, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Andean Flamingo, Atacama Desert, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Laguna Chaxa, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Atacama, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Andean Flamingo, Atacama Desert, Chile, Chilean Flamingo, Laguna Chaxa, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Atacama, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Laguna Cejar and Laguna Tebenquiche

24th November 2015. Atacama Desert, Northern Chile.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Continuing on from the previous post, this is the group I am travelling with.  It is an ordinary tour, not a photographic tour, but there are plenty of opportunities for photography.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

We are now at Laguna Cejar.

I was setting up to photograph some flamingos when some people came running along the boardwalk towards me crying out “Flamingo!  Flamingo!”  Of course the flamingos flew off and I didn’t get the photograph. (Sigh).  These are much further away.  Not to worry, there are some better flamingo images coming up in  a later post.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

There are three lakes at Laguna Cejar and the main purpose of stopping was to offer the chance of a swim in a salt lake.  The concentration of salt is higher here than the Dead Sea so floating is not difficult.  I wasn’t interested in that though, I had come for the photography.  You may need to click on this image to see it at a better size (though still a bit small because it’s  very long).

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

This image and the next one are also at Laguna Cejar.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

We are now at Laguna Tebenquiche but you can’t see it yet so we are looking at Cordillera de la Costa.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

The rest of the post shows images of the salt lakes and salt flats at Laguna Tebenquiche and the mountains behind, as sunset approaches and the sun recedes.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

There is a bird here amongst the salt – of what kind I have no idea.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Clearly the sun is getting lower now.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

It seems to be after sunset now.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Laguna Cejar, Laguna Tebenquiche, Landscape, Nature, Panorama, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

We were eating dinner before heading back and there were birds flying round.  The light was very low so I experimented with slow shutter speeds at high ISO.

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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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El Tatio

24th November 2015. Atacama Desert, Northern Chile.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Tatio, Travel, Wilderness

There was a very early rise this morning for the 90 minute trip from San Pedro de Atacama to the El Tatio geyser fields so that we could arrive before dawn.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Tatio, Travel, Wilderness

El Tatio is said to be the highest geyser field in the world and the largest in the southern hemisphere.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Tatio, Travel, Wilderness

The sky is bright but it’s still before dawn because there are no shadows,

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Tatio, Travel, Wilderness

Now we have shadows so the sun is up.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Tatio, Travel, Wilderness

A large fumarole.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Tatio, Travel, Wilderness

This is probably the largest geyser.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Tatio, Travel, Wilderness

The sun is starting to rise behind it.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Tatio, Travel, Wilderness

And now it’s peeking through

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Tatio, Travel, Wilderness

… leaving reflections in the surface water.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Tatio, Travel, Wilderness

It’s remarkable how the geysers manage to throw out lines of differently coloured rocks just at the point where it becomes unsafe to walk.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Tatio, Travel, Wilderness

There is a ruined building on the site but it’s not ancient.  It was probably associated with sulphur extraction many decades ago.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Tatio, Travel, Wilderness

Silhouettes in the steam.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Tatio, Travel, Wilderness

Darkness and light.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Tatio, Travel, Wilderness

The field once included 67 geysers and 300 hot springs.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Tatio, Travel, Wilderness

Geysers once reached 10 metres in height whereas now they are up to a metre.  Individual geysers are larger in New Zealand, Iceland and the US.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Tatio, Travel, Wilderness

Drilling for a hydrothermal energy project in 2009 caused a steam blowout 60 metres high that was not capped for a month.  The subsequent outcry led to the banning of such projects.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Geyser, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Tatio, Travel, Wilderness

In 2010, El Tatio was declared a protected area.

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Valle de la Luna

23rd November 2015. Atacama Desert, Northern Chile.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness

This and following posts are from excursions with Cosmo Andino Tours, who offer a great service.  This excursion was to Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley).

 

Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness

Coyote Leap.

I saw the cracks before I ventured there.  I assume from the fact that I’m writing this that I survived the experience.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness

Valle de la Luna is about thirteen kilometres west of San Pedro de Atacama.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness

It is a part of the Cordillera de la Sal (Salt Mountain Range).

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness

It is also inside Los Flamencos National Reserve and part of the Atacama Desert.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness

Some magnificent viewpoints are available.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness .

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness

Licancabur volcano, creating the moon in a virtual eruption.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness

… and the moon flies away like a balloon.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness

Valle de la Luna is comprised of sand, stone and salt. It is a totally arid area without any precipitation.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness .

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness .

 

Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness .

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness .

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness .

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness

The dramatic shapes were created by geological folding under a dry salt lake.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness .

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness .

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness .

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness .

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness .

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness

Colours are heightened by the sunset.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Travel, Valle de la Luna, Wilderness .

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Tulor and Pukará de Quitor

23rd November 2015. Atacama Desert, Northern Chile.

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In the first morning of my visit to the Atacama Desert, I joined a local archæological tour.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Pukará de Quitor, Travel, Tulor, Wilderness.

First we visited the ancient village of Tulor.  As the sign says, the village dates from 800BC to 500AD.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Pukará de Quitor, Travel, Tulor, Wilderness

The area is a desert environment today but would not have been as dry when people lived here.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Pukará de Quitor, Travel, Tulor, Wilderness

We are walking towards a couple of recreated houses.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Pukará de Quitor, Travel, Tulor, Wilderness .

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Pukará de Quitor, Travel, Tulor, Wilderness .

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Pukará de Quitor, Travel, Tulor, Wilderness

Inside, we can see something of the way they were built.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Pukará de Quitor, Travel, Tulor, Wilderness

This woman may have been sitting at the empty fireplace for a very long time.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Pukará de Quitor, Travel, Tulor, Wilderness

View through the door (as the guide was trying to hurry me on).

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Pukará de Quitor, Travel, Tulor, Wilderness

Remains of the actual dwellings.  The village was at an oasis and was abandoned when the oasis dried up.  It is not well protected and is slowly eroding away.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Pukará de Quitor, Travel, Tulor, Wilderness

I think this is a llama (rather than an alpaca).  In the oasis near our next destination.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Pukará de Quitor, Travel, Tulor, Wilderness

And that is Pukará de Quitor, which the Spanish conquistadors besieged and took in 1540.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Pukará de Quitor, Travel, Tulor, Wilderness

The fortress was built around 1200 by the Atacameño people, who occupied the land from around 8,000BC.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Pukará de Quitor, Travel, Tulor, Wilderness

The Tiwanaka people were overlords from 400 to 1000AD and the Incas shortly before the Spanish Conquest.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Pukará de Quitor, Travel, Tulor, Wilderness

As you can see, it it a large fortification, protected by a gorge on the other side.  The Spanish took it with the aid of Yanacona Indians.  They then executed 300 of the local defenders and displayed the heads on poles.  At that time, it became known as “the City of the Heads”.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Pukará de Quitor, Travel, Tulor, Wilderness

The oasis it was built beside is still there.

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San Pedro de Atacama

21st to 22nd November 2015. Atacama Desert, Northern Chile.

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I am now completing posting of my 2015 trip to Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar, Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Atacama Desert with final posts on the Atacama Desert.  You can find other posts on this expedition from the itinerary here.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, San Pedro de Atacama, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife.

While this post is about my arrival in San Pedro de Atacama, the first few images are from the plane the previous day.  This one is from the southern coast of Chile or even the Straits of Magellan.  There are houses on the peninsula in the foreground.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, San Pedro de Atacama, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife.

Sunset over a sea of clouds.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, San Pedro de Atacama, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife. .

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, San Pedro de Atacama, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife.

We are now in the following day, on the flight between Santiago and Calama.  Note the huge volcanic crater at bottom left.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, San Pedro de Atacama, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife.

Another view over the Atacama desert.  This is contiguous with the next image but the viewpoint has changed so I can’t align them.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, San Pedro de Atacama, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife.

The Atacama Desert is the driest desert in the world and may also be the oldest, yet humans have lived here based around rivers and oases for 9,000 years.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, San Pedro de Atacama, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife.

A couple of guanacos at the side of the road (I am now in the bus from Calama Airport to San Pedro de Atacama).

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, San Pedro de Atacama, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife.

Neighbouring house with satellite dish.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, San Pedro de Atacama, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife.

This is the far end of the main street at San Pedro de Atacama.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, San Pedro de Atacama, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife.

Turning back and walking in the other direction….

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, San Pedro de Atacama, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife.

San Pedro de Atacama is the launch pad for exploring the region, with 5,000 permanent inhabitants and at 2,400 meters (8,000 feet).  It was part of Bolivia until Bolivia lost its sea coast after the War of the Pacific in 1879 to 1884.

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Aerial Photography, Atacama Desert, Chile, Landscape, Nature, Photography, San Pedro de Atacama, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife. .

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Atacama 2

25th to 26th November 2015. Atacama Desert, Northern Chile. Temporary post. Images only. Minimal descriptions for images.

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Flamingo, Lago de Tara, Laguna Chaxa, Laguna Miñiques, Laguna Miscanti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Tara, Toconao, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Laguna Chaxa

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Flamingo, Lago de Tara, Laguna Chaxa, Laguna Miñiques, Laguna Miscanti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Tara, Toconao, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Laguna Chaxa

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Flamingo, Lago de Tara, Laguna Chaxa, Laguna Miñiques, Laguna Miscanti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Tara, Toconao, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Laguna Chaxa

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Flamingo, Lago de Tara, Laguna Chaxa, Laguna Miñiques, Laguna Miscanti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Tara, Toconao, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Salar de Talar or Aguas Calientes or Piedras Rojas

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Flamingo, Lago de Tara, Laguna Chaxa, Laguna Miñiques, Laguna Miscanti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Tara, Toconao, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Salar de Talar or Aguas Calientes or Piedras Rojas

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Flamingo, Lago de Tara, Laguna Chaxa, Laguna Miñiques, Laguna Miscanti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Tara, Toconao, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Laguna Miscanti

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Flamingo, Lago de Tara, Laguna Chaxa, Laguna Miñiques, Laguna Miscanti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Tara, Toconao, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Laguna Miscanti

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Flamingo, Lago de Tara, Laguna Chaxa, Laguna Miñiques, Laguna Miscanti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Tara, Toconao, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Laguna Miñiques

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Flamingo, Lago de Tara, Laguna Chaxa, Laguna Miñiques, Laguna Miscanti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Tara, Toconao, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Toconao

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Flamingo, Lago de Tara, Laguna Chaxa, Laguna Miñiques, Laguna Miscanti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Tara, Toconao, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

The Moai

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Flamingo, Lago de Tara, Laguna Chaxa, Laguna Miñiques, Laguna Miscanti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Tara, Toconao, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Lago de Tara

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Flamingo, Lago de Tara, Laguna Chaxa, Laguna Miñiques, Laguna Miscanti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Tara, Toconao, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Salar de Tara

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Flamingo, Lago de Tara, Laguna Chaxa, Laguna Miñiques, Laguna Miscanti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Tara, Toconao, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Salar de Tara

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Flamingo, Lago de Tara, Laguna Chaxa, Laguna Miñiques, Laguna Miscanti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Tara, Toconao, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Salar de Tara

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Flamingo, Lago de Tara, Laguna Chaxa, Laguna Miñiques, Laguna Miscanti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Tara, Toconao, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Salar de Tara

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Atacama Desert, Chile, Flamingo, Lago de Tara, Laguna Chaxa, Laguna Miñiques, Laguna Miscanti, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salar de Tara, Toconao, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Salar de Tara

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This is the last temporary post from the Atacama Desert and also from my trip to Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar, Falklands, South Georgia and Atacama.  I will eventually put up permanent posts with more images and information but it will take some time.

I am currently working on images from the Narooma Blues Festival from before I left and will post on that next.  Then I will post on Iceland from my trip there in 2013.  I will also be photographing at the Thredbo Blues Festival in January so there will be a post for that.  After finishing Iceland posts, I will be posting on the Madagascar/ South Georgia trip.  All of that will take about six months to complete and longer if I am tempted by another trip somewhere in that period.