I’ve now officially been through the desert on a horse with no name… (actually the horse did have a name but it’s a catchy song right?)..
What a place! The Atacama desert is amazing. It was even more amazing from the back of a horse, the sun beating down on our backs even though we left in the morning. We wandered through the dusty and muddied streets of San Pedro, me on my grey, flea bitten and freckled caballo named Estrellas (star), and my guide on a beautiful, young and first time out on a tour, bay mare. I felt like a proper cowgirl with the comfy saddle padded with alpaca fur, and the streets of San Pedro feeling straight out of a western movie.
Once through the town we were out in the desert immediately. Riding along the road we passed through the flooded river (rio San Pedro), that looked like chocolate milk according to my guide (with his limited English and my limited Spanish this was pretty much the only thing we exchanged during the ride).
We came to Pukará de Quitor, which was really cool to see but sort of appears to be a giant pile of rocks and sand from the distance.
We cantered up a few hills and rode through a salt mine with piles of salt, and some strange ridge lines making the valley appear moon like, or other worldly.
Eventually we rode through another valley without another soul in site, passed through the Death Valley and then cantered up over some sand dunes, emerging to a really cool view of San Pedro and the Andes stretched out behind it, like a painted backdrop.
I would highly recommend going on a horse ride through the desert. The horses are awesome and tough and the things you can see and places you can go seem a lot cooler from the back of a horse.