This Chile trip is looking quite special.  It’s effectively six holidays rolled into one.  And my focus this morning has been on the magic of the Atacama Desert.

For the uninitiated, it’s considered to be the driest place on the planet.  1mm of rain a year.  Manchester it isn’t.

I’m quite pleased with the hotel I booked several months ago, as it seems I genuinely got a bargain.  Prices being quoted at the moment are double what I’ve paid.  Breakfast is included, although I don’t think lama rashers are on the menu.

The nearest town to where we’re staying is San Pedro de Atacama, a couple of miles away.  Although I don’t really do built up areas this one appeals to me as some sort of oversized South American stereotyped shanty village.  A mixture of Internet cafes, youth hostels and the man on the petrol station forecourt looking after his chickens.

But there are some places we’ll be getting out and about to.  Sunrise is 7am.  Sunset is 6pm.  Night temperatures below freezing.  Daytime winter sun between 15C and 21C.

El Tatio Geysers (pictured above) are a dawn thing.  Jet lag will doubtless have us awake for the early start and despite having a hire car on hand I’d expect to book a tour for this.  We both love our geothermal stuff and this might just be more spectacular than Iceland, Yellowstone and the boiling streams of east California.

Another organised trip to pay for will be salt flats at Salar de Atacama.  The stark nature of Death Valley’s salt flats has mesmerised in the past.  These look even more impressive.

Driving to the Alma Telescope appeals.  I’m pondering if this route might be worth a night trip to get the views of the Milky Way and beyond which, due to the lack of moisture in the atmosphere, may outdo the brilliance of the solar system we’ve seen previously in Grand Canyon and Death Valley.

There’s more.  Much more.  Salt lakes to swim in.  Might be cold, but we won’t sink!  Sunset and sunrise views that will doubtless remind me of Sedona on Grand Canyon.  Could they be bettered?  I’d have said no, but research (that’s the posh word for playing with Google) suggests this place might be rather special.

just over three weeks.  Excited!

Next Step in Treating the Dreaded Palsy – More Lube?