- Published on Thursday, 12 July 2012 21:00
Leaving Valparaiso and heading off to the Elqui Valley on the advice of a local seemed like a good plan. I hopped onto a bus for the eight hour journey ($CLP 13,000 or $26 USD; buses here are expensive) to La Serena which is a coastal city and the jumping point to the Elqui Valley. I knocked on a few doors, found accommodation and really did not do anything nor do I have much to write about whilst in La Serena. Waking up the following morning I walked to the bus terminal, got a ride, and spent the next three hours climbing the Chilean foothills into the Elqui Valley. The valley is known for its many vineyards providing the fruit for pisco, its clear and pollution free skies for stargazing (many, many observatories on the peaks), and for a mountain with a magnetic ore that emits a positive energy that supposedly centers mind, body, and spirit, and is even known to attract extra terrestrials. During my time I only saw lots of grapes. Showing up in Pisco Elqui, one of many villages in the valley, I hadn't a clue of what to do. I found accommodation and set out walking the town. Whilst on my walk I came across a sign that read “motorcycle tours of the Elqui Valley” and in the yard I saw two KTM 690 Enduro bikes. You know what happened next.
Yes, I did indeed book a full day tour at Elqui Enduro with Klaus a German guy living in the Elqui Valley. The price was a little steep at $CLP 50,000 or $100 USD, but during my negotiations I remembered what my friend Amy told me. She stated that during my trip if I ever wanted to do something and was hesitant because of the cost, then that is a clear sign to go ahead and do it lest I be saddled with regret. Man did she hit the nail on the head on this one. The motorcycle ride during the day turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip to date.
Klaus and I toured the valley and into the surrounding canyons that I otherwise would not have been able to access. Both the scenery and the weather were absolutely spectacular. I hadn't operated a motorized vehicle in over four months, let alone a motorcycle, and it was awesome. I’m not really a dirt rider and we went up some pretty gnarly trails. I’m not ashamed to say I stalled the bike a few times and even went down really hard on one particularly difficult stretch. Luckily I had full protection on as I only came away bruised and not broken.
My short time in the Elqui Valley will always be remembered by this incredible day on the bike a ripping around on the dirt. I’m so happy I pulled the trigger on this one and did not let my penny pinching ways get the better of me.
Klaus at the Chilean gas station
After a long day on the bike I headed back to La Serena, spent the night, and booked a ticket out of town ASAP the next morning to Bahia Inglesa for one last go at the Pacific before heading to the highlands once again. After another eight hour journey I arrived to a tiny beach town with no one home. My main aim was to break up the journey to San Pedro de Atacama further north in Chile. Bahia Inglesa was nice enough and I’m sure in summer it is filled with good times and Chilean vacationers. The waters of the Pacific here were of a shimmering blue and vibrant emerald green. After one relaxing and uneventful night I booked another bus (lots of buses for me of late) to one of the highest and driest regions on the planet where I was much looking forward to a very famous tour here in South America that has been on my radar for quite some time.