San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

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We decided to go to the northern part of the desert via Santiago instead of going through Salta since the bus ticket in Argentina was much more expensive.  When we got to Santiago, we found all the direct bus going to San Pedro de Atacama were full. After asking around the bus station we decided to get to Calama first then switch to a San Pedro bus from there.  Since the next bus going to Calama isn’t leaving till that night, we decided to shop and book our hostels while hanging around Santiago that day.  Though we couldn’t find any cheap hostels to reserve online, we did find a manageable one.  However, we still couldn’t book it since the first night’s price had one more 0…. L  We ended up booking another room for the first night and hope that we could correct the problem once we get there.  Another benefit of booking a hostel ahead of time – since we were going to arrive at the midnight of next day, we arranged a hostel pick up so that we don’t have to worry about looking for a place to sleep in the dark.

After nearly 17 hours of bus ride, it’s already sunset, not long after that we realized that we were going arrive 2 hours late and miss our next bus connection from Calama to San Pedro de Atacama.   We called the bus company but nothing happened.  We arrived the bus station around 8:30pm that night (instead of 6:30pm, and our next bus leaves around 8:30pm).   It turns out that this bus wasn’t even going to leave from the same terminal that we were dropped off.  So the bus company told me to wait in front of the street and wave down their bus since it’s probably going to pass here while heading out of the town.   After a couple tries, no bus stopped for us.  We went back and asked around the cashiers, the bus company would not budge and only asked us to pay for another ticket.  So we decided to go to the other bus terminal where the buses actually going to San Pedro de Atacoma and try there.

Since the next – and the last for the night – bus leaves at 9:45pm, we took a taxi and arrived there as soon as we could.   We had to wait a long line, then found out that our original bus were late and didn’t even leave until 9:07pm – and it wasn’t even going to pass their other office, which explained why no bus stopped for us as I tried to wave them down earlier.  Since their other office didn’t know that our bus was actually late and we had to wait a long line here to get to talk to their staff, by the time we got the right information we missed the bus – talking about being professional….  After a bunch of ignorant comments from their staff – including getting the attention from the security, they finally managed to charge us a ticket replacement fee instead of paying for whole tickets.

Our bus arrived around 11:30pm that night, and I was surprised that we were still approached by a hostel saleswoman trying to get us into her hostel.  It was very late and very dark around the bus station in this village – impressive and worrisome.

From San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, posted by Jenny Zheng on 7/10/2012 (73 items)

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2 thoughts on “San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

  1. Hola
    Me FRom UK age 55 #
    At present in EL Calafate travel to Bariloche today ( Via Dreary Rio Gallegos)
    I want to visit the Atacama – I was thinking of going to Mendoza then San Pedro to get the bus in a weeks time

    I would like to go to Machu Pichu then get the bus back to BA or Fly as my bike is in BA

    Any tips would be greatly appreciated


    North West UK

    • Hey sorry I was getting settled in China and had numerous internet problems, among other things. I hope… you didn’t go from Mendoza to San Pedro… that would be an awfully long and expensive ride. Going to Santiago, the Chilean buses are so much cheaper!

      If you want to go from Mendoza, try to stop several times, take a breather, and move on. There are several interesting places along the way, like the moon valley (ok, there is another moon valley in Atacama, but they are different eh…) . If you want to go from Santiago, there are some amazing places to walk around around the Argentine/Chilean border from Mendoza to Santiago, definitely stop if you are a trekker. Going from Santiago to Atacama, there is La Serena, which I heard was a pretty good place to break the trip by relaxing on its beach.

      I hope it’s not too late to help you, but I’m sure you already got these figured out. I’m settled in Beijing now and caught up with the internet finally. Best with your trip, enjoy!