On the last day of the desert crossing we were up at 6 in the morning, frozen as a stick and just wanting to get into the car with maximum heating on. It was going to be a long day with lots of driving, but that was something we did not mind at all as our view from the window the last day had been like we were driving through our four climate seasons. We started with the crystal white salt flats, then drove past lagoons with flamingos and then through valleys with thin ice in the middle, cracking underneath us. For our last day we would pass through the worlds driest desert, before ending up in Chile.
Today we also had a few noteworthy stops along the way:
– Arbol de Piedra (“the rock tree” at 4412m) was one of many very interestingly shaped rocks made out of lavastone that had been shaped through centuries by the strong wind.
– Laguna Colorada (4278m): if you are planning on stopping at just one of the lagoons, then Laguna Colorada should be the one as it is the biggest, has the most flamingos and the most colorful red water of them all.
– Solar de Manana geysirs (at 4850m!) and the Polques Hot Springs (4400m) were right by the Chilean border and was the perfect place to have lunch after a nice hot bath. Right before we
– The Laguna Verde (at 4400m) was the last thing we saw before we arrived at Hito Cajon which was the border post on the Bolivian side
The immigration office was really small and placed in the middle of the desert, and could have easily been mistaken for a bathroom stop or totally overlooked, but our guides stopped the cars and told us to bring our passport in for a stamp, before a junmping into a minibus waiting for us at the same parking lot that would take us the last couple of hours to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile.
Even though the passport stamping was super quick it was still the longest border crossing I have ever come across. The drive between the immigration office in Bolivia and the immigration office in Chile took us almost an hour of driving, first through more desert and then on bigger and better roads that we had seen our whole time in Bolivia. After letting the Chileans look through our luggage and stamp our passports, it was just a quick half hour drive before we arrived in San Pedro de Atacama.