10 Days in Chile | 48 Hours in Atacama: Day 2

Our second morning started the same way as our first. We all rolled out of bed around 8, slowly got ready, and were on our way to breakfast by 9.
We decided to take this day a little easier and stay a bit more local and take a bit of time to explore the town of San Pedro.

PLAZA DE SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA
IGLESIA SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA
There really isn't that much to do in town so we walked along a few streets, took a look at the little park, and then walked through the church.
This dog was just living his best life.
Since there hadn't been much to do in town, we decided to head out to explore a few more lagunas.
LAGUNA CEJAR
We didn't actually end up seeing this lake up close (you can see a sliver of it in the photo below) because there's a steep entrance fee of $10,000 CLP ($15 USD). It's so pricey because people swim here. We asked if we could just look at it without swimming but were denied.
OJOS DEL SALAR
Even though Laguna Cejar didn't work out, there were several other spots nearby for us to explore, including these two circular side-by-side salt lakes. This is an ideal spot for drone photography since the lakes are v. satisfying to look at from above (just check out google maps for the satellite photo to see what I mean).
LAGUNA TEBINQUICHE
This might've been one of my favorite spots of the trip because it was so secluded (there was one other group there whilst we were there), the surrounding landscape was gorgeous, and it was actually explorable semi-up-close. We were instructed to stay on the paths only and not to touch anything so we wouldn't disturb the ecosystem (not that I would've touched anything without that instruction anyway) and we were informed that flamingos love to hang out here all the time. Unfortunately for us, we didn't actually see any, but it was still a gorgeous place nonetheless.
You can actually see the salt embedded in the soil, which is really cool.
Even though we didn't see any pink birds, we did see a few other birds hanging out in this salty lake.
AURA ANDINA CAFE/ESTRELLA NEGRA
For lunch, N and I were craving a big, crunchy salad but L wasn't keen on vegetarian. We ended up at this place and I didn't quite understand the concept so I ended up with a tray full of food almost by accident. It wasn't quite what I'd wanted but I had been craving rice so I did satisfy that need. To be completely honest, I'm not really a fan of Chilean food; it's sort of underwhelming and it seems like their typical dishes are mostly hangover food (piles of fries topped with various meats, hot dogs, beef sandwiches).
VALLE DE LA LUNA
Our last excursion in Atacama was to the Valle de la Luna which is just a few minutes outside of San Pedro. The entrance fee was $3,000 CLP ($4.50 USD) per person.
The landscape is v. unique. People compare it to Mars (the adjacent park is actually called Valle de Marte, which translates to "Mars Valley," though it should be said that it's also called Valle de la Muerte, which translates to "Death Valley").
There are giant rocks, smaller eroded rock formations, dunes, and cliffs. It's definitely worth driving through.
To view the sunset, we climbed to the Duna Mayor ("highest dune"). It was a bit of a struggle in some parts where the path was in soft sand, but it was well worth the climb for the intensely gorgeous views.
STARGAZING
After Valle de la Luna, we parked along the side of a road to watch the sun finish setting and to spend a little time looking at the stars.
Honestly, I was a little disappointed that we didn't stay out longer to really enjoy the night sky but I could tell that L and N were getting bored and majority rules so we left before the sky got dark enough to see the stars at their most intense brightness. If I'd been here on my own or with other people, I would've wanted to go somewhere quiet and secluded to lay on the roof of the car and thoroughly bask in the twinkling light of the stars.
CASA PIEDRA DE ATACAME√ĎA
For dinner we walked around trying to find some empanadas because we thought it would be nice to finish off the weekend with some typical Chilean food. We were ultimately unsuccessful so we ended up at a pizza place.
The pizza didn't have any tomato sauce so it was kind of weird. I guess I'm pretty picky about pizza since NYC/NJ has some of the best pizza ever outside of Italy (in my humble opinion) but it still hit the spot.
I wanted a pink lemonade but instead was brought this frozen monstrosity.
As we were finishing up, a local band was getting ready to perform so we stayed for a couple of songs. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely which is what made the performance enjoyable for me as well.
We had an early morning ahead of us so we all went to bed pretty early and then woke before the sun. I was stuck driving for an hour while L and N got to nap in the car but I did get to see a lovely sunrise so that was actually really nice.

Our hotel actually packed us some breakfasts to go (consisting of a ham & cheese sandwich and a juice box) which was just another positive point towards the lovely owner.
Here's my video diary:

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