Trip North in DashCam Shots

July 2017

We recently got back from our trip to the North of Chile, a trip that surprised us in more ways than one. All we really knew about the region was that it was dry and covered in deserts. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did.

The deserts of Northern Chile are not mere hills of sand. They are variable and ever-changing. Flat plains of cracked earth give way to sweeping mounds covered in geoglyphs, which in turn roll down to become encrusted alien landscapes. In fact, there was so much to see that I never once closed my eyes while riding in the passenger seat.

Here is our car’s-eye view of our trip north from Santiago to La Tirana:

Distance is always hard to measure in the desert and the high planes.

Rain is not common but rolling wind storms are typical.

The trip north on Ruta 5 rides along the coast just north of Santiago and then dips inland halfway to Peru.

Ruta 5 is the only major highway running north-south in Chile. In most places, it is a simple well-kept two-lane highway. In some places – usually near oil refineries and active mines, it can expand up to six lanes.

Shanty towns like this one are a common sight along the northern coasts of Chile. Most of the “houses” are unfinished shacks utilizing materials found in roadside dumps or recycled from other abandoned structures. Most of these were boarded up as it was winter here.

One ugly pit stop just west of Antofagasta, oil refinery company town.

Geoglyphs – art made by ancient peoples on large landforms – are usually well-marked with brown signage.

Desert towns in various states of repair

Abandoned nitrate mine camp

Wine flat plains of dust, fine as flour

More ruins

Ever-changing landscape

Dry, crackly earth running to the horizon

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