Adventures in San Pedro De Atacama

Arriving in San Pedro De Atacama on my birthday should have been the thinly veiled excuse Cass and I needed to go out and party after weeks spent on the road.

Instead uncharacteristically I want nothing more than an early night and something to soothe a cough and cold picked up over the previous weeks exertions crossing Abra Del Acay and Paso Sico.

What starts out as a couple of days rest eventually turns in to 10 days spent in this small enchanting dusty town nestled at the edge of the Atacama Desert. As each day passes we explore local single track, meet many new people and eventually put right postponed birthday celebrations.

Armed with a hand written map, our first evening’s ride takes us high up on to a ridge line above town.


In the evening light we cast our eyes upon the jumble of ridgelines of Valle De La Muerta.

Valle De La Muerta

Before following vague jeep tracks.

Jeep Tracks

Still high above the town as darkness descends we anxiously look at the ‘map’ unsure we will make it back to the road before dark. By chance a car’s headlights signal the entrance to a canyon far below. Riding down steep sand dunes we emerge on the main road in the dark under our the illumination of our head torches, for once pleased to be back on asphalt.


Curious to explore the areas potential we spend the next three days exploring armed with local knowledge, missing turns and slowly piecing together the areas canyons, we arrive home each day in the dark tantalisingly closer to linking up the ride in to the Valle De La Luna through the chaotic maze of canyons.

On our first attempt we miss a vital turning. Pedalling off in to the distance, realising our error we manage to hitch back and catch sunset over Valle De La Luna, providing a birds eye view of the valley floor.

Valle De La Luna

The following day we follow tyre tracks on the valley floor that eventually peter out, leaving us scratching our heads. We back track only to find the dry river bed we were supposed to follow. In fading light we race down, emerging on to the road in darkness. Once again bound for twinkling lights of San Pedro De Atacama having unlocked the secret.

On your final attempt, local bike mechanic Guilerme joins us. Following single track around the canyon’s rim we kick up dust clouds.

Dust Clouds

Before following an arrow straight track across a salt flat.

Arrow Straight

We carry our bikes down to the start of dry river bed.

Carrying Bikes

As the canyon walls narrow shadows mark the entrance to a deep cave.


The river bed narrowing ever further, twisting and turning.

Narrowing Walls

Racing through unfamiliar surroundings and jagged textures.

Jagged Formations

We bobble along over golf ball sized salt formations.

Golf Ball Sized Salt

As Guilerme turns for home, we carry on to watch another sunset over sand dunes of Valle De La Luna.

Sand Dunes

Jagged ridgelines seem to be the order of the day.

Evening Light

Evening light dapples the volcano of Sairecabur in the distance. Despite ideas to ride the volcano we find ourselves running out of time. Bolivia beckons.



  1. Derek

    Just WOW!

  2. Hana Black

    Wow – what an amazing place to explore! Hope to see it one day 🙂

  3. Daniel Díaz

    Beautiful photos. Really inspires me to get the hell out of my living room!

    • Mike


      Well there is a big wide World out there.

      Explore. Dream. Discover.

  4. Chris

    Awesome photos, amazing place!

    • Mike

      Thanks Chris.

      Looking forward to reading about your adventures.

  5. Myles & Miles

    Some seriously evocative piccies here, Mike. Looks like you were out in beautiful light too. Weird and wonderful place. 10 days? Christ, the french bakery and Chilean girls musta been good.

    • Mike

      Thanks Myles!

      Guilty on both counts 😉

      I must catch up on your travels. Are you still with Flo?

  6. Matt

    Wow, unreal landscape – looks like dream riding!

  7. haisi hu

    hey mike,
    what an amazing trip! sounded like you have a great adventure. i missed san pedro. i wish i were biking instead of taking the tourist bus. let me know where you are now. i am back in New York the concrete jungle.

  8. Nic, Holly, Olivia

    These photos wil be amazing for my Geology and Geography lessons on desert landforms and deposits, excellent images. Keep it up bro

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