Starting by bus in Santiago de Chile our trip around the world brought us further north to a small little village called San Pedro de Atacama. The bus ride was 24 hours long and took us from sea level directly up to 2500 m. Even while driving you could recognize the rapid increase in altitude and we regularly had to perform a pressure compensation in our ears. As soon as we left the bus and shouldered our big backpacks we really got aware of the altitude. Each step required much more effort and we were a little short in breath. One thing was for sure: if we wanted to enjoy the upcoming tour in the Salar de Uyuni we had to acclimatize ourself well!
We spent eight days in San Pedro de Atacama before our Salar de Uyuni tour, which would bring us to Uyuni in Bolivia, would start. Often tourists underestimate the altitude and start their tour to Uyuni immediately after arriving in San Pedro de Atacama. But this is a big mistake since it can lead to bad headaches, nausea or even worse. No, this was not the way we wanted to experience our tour. We wanted to be able to enjoy every single day without any medical problems! But these are not the only things someone should keep in mind while searching for the perfect tour to the Salar de Uyuni. For more tips and tricks you can read this article. Our review about the Tour Company Estrella del Sur, which we chosed, you can read here.
We wanted to explore the different attractions of the region and wanted to hike on a volcano near by to slowly get used to the altitude. Luckily we met the guys from „The Wild Side Chile“. They offer individual tours with their 4×4 orange Expedition Jeep. This was the perfect solution for us, since we still like to avoid the large crowds of normal tours. For this reason „The Wild Side Chile“ was perfect for us since the group size is only 2-4 people. The good thing about our private tours was, that Max and Leandro, the owners of „The Wild Side Chile“, could react individually on our specific desires. So we could make special requests regarding the places we wanted to visit, on the tour we were able to make a stop at any time and anywhere. They cooked a absolutely delicious vegetarian meal for us on a special plate called „Disco“. It was so fantastic delicouse, we immediately encourage Leandro to prepare another „Disco“ for us for the next trip!
In total we booked three tours with Max and Leandro from „The Wild Side Chile“: First a day trip to the Tatio Geyser with our special order to find the Yaretta plant (Spanish Llareta) which grows native in higher altitudes. The plant grows only a few millimeters per year and the oldest specimem, which was ever discovered, is over 2000 years old. Second trip was an evening / night tour to the Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) but far away from the other tourist tours and third a tour to climbing the Cerro Tocco, a former volcano of 5600 m height.
All tours were phenomenal and very well organized. The guys made a great job, asked about our food and music preferences. They cared well for our safety and cooked tasty meals for us. For example, they gave us helmets for climbing the volcano. The reason was not the difficulty of the climb but the altitude, which we were not used to. So if someone would feel dizzy and would fell down, the helmets would protect us against bad head injuries. Furthermore, we reached – thanks to the 4×4 Expedition Jeep – places which the majority of tourists were not able to discover. And no worries about being off road: Max goes off road since over 15 years and he is also an experienced mechanic. He knows his vehicle – every single screw of it.
All in all we experienced thanks to „The Wild Side Chile“ three unforgettable days. We saw impressive landscapes away from the crowds, we could admire extensively animals and plants as we wished and we could take as many pictures as we liked. Oh, and we could also try to do some light paintings in the dessert night. Which other tour has time for that? And a good sideeffect of all these exciting tours was, that we easily got used to the altitude.
In conclusion, the only thing which is left to say is: Thank you Max and Leandro for the great and professional tours. We had an excellent time with you! And to all the others, who want to visit San Pedro de Atacama, we advise: if you are looking for unique tours around San Pedro de Atacama and if you want to escape the mass tourism, then go to „The Wild Side Chile“, it’s totally worth it!!!
(And no, we are not paid for this review. We wrote this, as well as all our other reviews, freely and wholeheartedly! And this is the way it should be, or not?!