I didn’t think I could top my last trip, but somehow this one managed to do just that. The Atacama Desert was love at first sight. My goal was relaxation, a true respite, shooting in the desert light again, getting away from it all, and reconnecting with my true self, desires and purpose. That’s all. My inner cowgirl got a workout on this escapade.
The landscape was absolutely stunning and varied in so many wonderful ways. I had great guides (by great, I mean young and hot), plus a town full of adventure junkies waiting to get the party started.
The desert was sophisticated and refined. Chile is distinguished by its combination of beauty, cleanliness, well-paved roads, manicured landscape, and great food and wine.
I stayed at the Hotel Altiplanico and shot several luxury lodges and many landscapes for Design + Destination, which were intoxicatingly beautiful. It is a place like no other. Salt pans, geysers, altiplanic lagoons, Salar de Tara, Valle de la Luna and so much more.
Tourists were so happy to be there, and an almost instant camaraderie formed. Naturally, when two Korean guys in their 20s asked to take a picture with me on a hike I said yes. After the snap, they thanked me and said they had never seen a non-obese American and wanted to show their friends back home. Happy to help.
Although just a short trip over the border, Bolivia is a million miles away from Chile in terms of politics, infrastructure and government. The group of travelers I was with that day paid immigration police a “fee” to enter and exit the country, which they split and immediately pocketed in front of us.
There’s a shocking socio-economic difference immediately visible at the border separating the two countries. It’s like going from Park Avenue to El Paso. The energy of the place and infrastructure (or lack thereof ) immediately hit the senses. The stunning landscape, however, was off the charts. Laguna Colorada was breathtaking, and the surrounding areas and villages were well worth the price of entry.