It took me 13 days but I have arrived safely in the beautiful, if a bit touristy, San Pedro de Atacama. The last 700km have been fantastic with lots of beautiful scenery, adventurous camping spots and cool people.
Now it gets serious.
The next stretch is about 160km and will see me to the Chilean/Argentinean border and the last 14th country. Between here and there is the highest point of the whole expedition, 4818m (according to the local tour company). To give that context it is higher than ANY point in the whole of Europe as Mont Blanc tops at 4810m! To add to the adventure it is also very hot during the day and freezing at night. If that is not enough there are no shops to buy water…
So today is a preparation day as much as it is a rest day. In between huge meals (at horrendous tourist prices) I am trying to sort out some logistics. First of all I need to add a few items to my clothing. So far I have bought a pair of wooly socks and later I will buy some wooly gloves. These are apparently alpaca wool but I am suspicious… Luckily the main items of clothing have been kindly provided by Karrimor (merino wool top, fleece, jacket, hat).
The next thing to sort is water. Under normal conditions I can carry about 10 litres but with over 3000m of ascent over the next few days I am resorting to much more cunning plan. As Blackadder would say it is as cunning as a fox who’s just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University. I have been visiting the local tour companies and asking about their schedules. There is one popular tourist destination 100km down my route and the plan is that the car transporting the passengers will also deliver my water. This ideally will happen on their outbound and return trip and I will have conquered the main ascent.