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Old 07-12-2009, 09:18 AM   #57
tsiklonaut OP
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Chile - Atacama desert'n stuff

Meanwhile, when our Öhlins shock was waiting for a new stronger spring we went to Valparaiso. It was a decent place to chill out for a few days:

Aside the Pacific ocean.

Where people chilled.

The city itself lays on hills aside the ocean, with steep streets, but decent port-city atmoshere:

Valparaíso streets' panorama (click to enlarge):

And some arty paiting on the streets:

(click to enlarge)

And the poorer parts of Valparaíso have even more atmospheric streets:

Some South-American weird style cemetery, they bury people in those small box-places inside the wall (click to enlarge):

And some views to the city:

Military equipment at the dock:

Panoramas (click to enlarge each one):

That big cemetery.

Valpa during the sunset.

On the way back to Santiago we met Hank, who's R1100GS has ridden over 440 000 miles (engine all stock - rings, pistons, bores etc. 4th FD bearing, 1 set of gearbox bearings replaced from bigger jobbies). He's a decent guy and we spent a good time in Santiago together.

As a physicist-astronomer backgrounded person myself of course we had to visit one of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) sites. We got a chance to visit La Silla:

It resided high in the mountains, the driest place on Earth - Atacama desert:

With some decent equipment for discovering the Universe around us:

Big mounting system, some over 40 tons to move and they demostrated the movement for us:

The New Technology Telescope (NTT).

And they had one very photogenic radio telescope on the site too:

With awesome reflective spaces, giving the sci-fi feeling when looked against the sky...

Everyday astronomers view (normally they work at night tho):

From there the only way to go was deeper into the Atacama desert... We zig-zagged between the Pacific coast (that had some vegetation) to the deeper continental side of the desert (completely dead nature) that gave some huge contrasts and emotions.

Some panoramas (click to enlarge each one to see in full size):

(one of our wild camping places aside the Pacific ocean)

(another one)

(rocky nature aside the Pacific)

The only place it had life was on the Pacific side, where you see civilization and people working:

But in the inland, there were only mines, and just small remote villages to support the mines. And lorries (click to enlarge):

The famous Atacama desert's hand in the middle of the desert:

Panorama from the same spot (click to enlarge):

One evening we decided to try to climb onto one of mountains in the desert for camping, yes - with bike and onto this mountain (click to enlarge):

It was soo steep, Kariina had to walk (otherwise the bike would flip over), and up there was too much wind for a camping, the only way was to come down again:

Roads in Atacama desert:

Atacama sunset.

We camped on that flat spot, night sky was just amazing there!

New day we had to move on...

The new destination was the biggest open copper mine in the World - the Chuquicamata mine. Measuring over 3 miles long, 2 miles wide, almost a mile deep open mine, hole that that they have dig over 100 years now - simply an unbelievable site!

(click to enlarge the panorama of the mine)

(Old and new) ways down to the mine... Things change over 100 years.

The biggest trucks in the World - the 600 ton trucks down in the mine doing their work. You can't even imagine the sheer scale of those trucks. Wheel diametre alone is 2-3 heights of me for example. And one tire costs 30 000US$, lasts less than a year.

From the mine we went to the fabulous Valle de la Luna (the Moon Valley), that resembles the landscape of the Moon. Minus the clouds it was:

And some panoramas from Valle de la Luna (click to enlarge each one):

That's it for Chile. Next stop: Bolivian empire.

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