salt lakes of san pedro de atacama

  • salt lake here i come
  • so nice
  • so cold
  • so light
  • salty feet
  • my frog like dive
  • the cold freshwater pool
  • shallow salt lake
  • walking on water
  • karate kid
  • some random person
  • handstand on water
  • this girl was huge...
  • sunset on the lake
  • my best photo

Yesterday afternoon I joined an excursion out to the salt lagoons in the Atacama desert. The main lagoon we went to is called Laguna Ceja - which I think means the Blind Lagoon - but I have to confirm this as our guide didn't really speak any English. It's consistency is 85% salt which they say is saltier than the dead sea. The guide also says the depth is unknown because they can't get equipment down there to measure it. Not too sure about this though, surely lead would sink here?

When we arrived I made no point of being a gentleman doing the whole ladies first thing - I wanted to be the first in that water to get a photo with it looking completely smooth. Plus everybody was ummming and aaahing about going in 'cause it would be cold. Wimps!! I got in real slow as instructed to by the guide, and then realised why people were a bit apprehensive - they had obviously felt the water while walking along the lagoon. The top layer was freezing - something like Clifton beach water. But.....when stop floating on your back or belly and floated in a standing position, the current about half a meter from the top felt like a hot bath. Needless to say, I assumed the standing position for the next 20 minutes or so. This place has so much salt that when standing upright in the water your body sticks out til about halfway down your chest. The hot currents are, I was told, thermal baths caused by the active volcano nearby. We were also told not to stick our heads under water as that amount of salt could be damaging to the eyes.

After our swim, we headed to 2 fresh water lagoons called Ojos de Atacama - The Eyes of the Atacama. It's said that they were created by 2 meteors that hit the earth few million years ago, and went down so deep that they penetrated the water basin in the area and that is how they keep their fresh water supply - there's no rain around here to feed them. Again the guide wasn't sure how deep they were but estimated something like 100 meters deep. The only way to get into the water was to jump or dive into it off a 2 meter ledge. This time some other brave fella beat me to being the first in the water, but did a bit of a pathetic holding the nose jump. I followed, with what I thought would be an elegant swan-like dive - unfortunately the photo taken says otherwise and i look more like I've been flung into the water. It was absolutely freezing - hold fingers about half a centimeter apart, and that's how cold it was. I reckon it must have been about 8 degrees Celsius. I didn't hang around in there for long.

After the Ojos we headed to the "name unknown right now" lagoon, which is essentially a thin sheet of water, about 5 to 15 cm deep, and it's bottom is a salt flat. This allows for some amazing reflections of the surrounding areas and is the lagoon is especially famous for the possibility to take the walking-on-the-water photos that you seen in all the guide books. Naturally, being a bit of a camera whore I didn't pass up the opportunity to get a few in. My favourite is the one where I look like I'm almost touching the volcano. The funny thing about this photo is that I took it myself. I put the camera down on the ground and set the self-timer to 30 seconds then legged it into the lake and just struck the first pose that came to mind. I must have looked like a bit of a knob standing there like that with nobody actually taking a picture of me, but I think it's worth it.