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Friday Photo: Shadows in the Atacama Desert

By on Feb 1, 2013 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

The Atacama Desert is, to me, one of the most spectacular places on Earth. Snow-topped Andean peaks, vast sandy plains, mirror-like salt pools, one of the best spots in the world for stargazing. But it is one of those mysterious places which is somehow more than the sum of its parts – there was something about it which spoke directly to my soul. This #FriFotos theme is Shadows – and the Atacama was the obvious choice. Out in the desert, the interplay of light and shadow is magnified, more theatrical and impressive than anywhere else. The sun is truly King here. When I took this picture, it was early evening; the sun was just beginning to dip below the horizon and I was deep in the desert, having visited some salt flats. I was taking photos of the dramatic shadows thrown across the plain by the rocks and mountains, when I caught sight of my own shadow, crazily lengthened,...

Stargazing in the Atacama Desert

By on Oct 23, 2011 in Uncategorized | 3 comments

I’ve had travels far and wide, but this is the most Starry-Eyed of them all… The night was pitch black and freezing cold. We huddled in a semicircle, stamping our feet and hugging ourselves to try and stay warm, shivering even beneath our thick layers of coats and scarves. It was 11:30 p.m. and we had just been abandoned in the middle of the Atacama Desert, miles from anywhere. Once the van had sped off into the darkness, the only light came from the almost-full moon. A figure appeared in the doorway of a small hut and came striding towards us. He looked a bit like the Michelin man – and much more prepared for the cold than us – wearing a thick, puffy, spaceman-like suit. “Hi, I’m John. Welcome to the Atacama Desert!” he greeted us, in a strong Canadian accent. “I’m an astronomer and I’ll be your stargazing guide this...

25 Things I Wish I’d Known about South America

By on Oct 1, 2011 in Uncategorized | 10 comments

Now that I’ve finished my four-month adventure, I’ve had a few moments to reflect on some of the things I’ve learnt about travel in South America. If you’re planning to go, you might just want to bear some of these in mind – enjoy!       1. That ‘winter’ means everything from 30 degree heat and bone-dry weather to temperatures below zero, to fog and rain. 2. That overland border crossings can be the most mystical, fun or downright chaotic moments of the trip. 3. That you need to carry toilet roll and hand sanitizer at all times. 4.That heating and hot water, even where nights are frosty, are novelty items 5. That Peru is the most amazing, vast and diverse country, with people who are far too kind and experiences which are far too wonderful, meaning that you never want to leave. 6. That there are dangers, but if you are sensible...

Cycling in the Atacama Desert

By on Jul 20, 2011 in Uncategorized | 6 comments

The feeling was one of incredible freedom and tantalizing adventure. Sure, the tours had been good, the guides informative and the fellow tourists friendly, but being out here, just two of us on bikes, surrounded by mountains of orange rock, the desert took on an even more magical air. The sky was a deep, cloudless blue; after four days in San Pedro, I still couldn’t get over it. The sun shone brilliantly overhead, creating a high-contrast interplay of shadows and light. Several times, we had to cross the meandering river. Sometimes it was little more than a puddle and we could ride straight through it, but at other times we had to pass the bikes across, avoiding the drag of the current. In this barren landscape, the sun was unforgivingly hot and the path often became overtaken by sand – an impossible surface to ride on. However, it was an energising and thrilling ride, as...

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