By Corey Sandler
It’s hard to have more contrast in one day than we did today, and that’s an extraordinary thing.
After a day at sea sailing north, we arrived early this morning at the port of Iquique in Chile, an uncommon sight in this place. They receive only about eight cruise ships a year here.
And then I went with a group of guests from sea level– because that is where oceangoing ships generally sail– up into the altiplano, the high desert. About two hours drive brought us into the Atacama Desert and the spectacular Huasco Salt Flats.
The flats are at about 3,830 meters above the sea, or about 12,565 feet.
We had a bright sun and tolerable temperatures and pink flamingoes and llamas and alpaca. Oh, and I took some pictures….
The altiplano is home to some of Chile’s abundant mineral wealth. It all began with saltpeter a century ago, used at first for gunpowder and then as a fertilizer.
Today, copper is king, along with valuable metals and minerals including molybdenum and lithium. That last substance is an essential component of batteries for things like cellphones and tablets.
Our trip back to the port in the afternoon was delayed because of a convoy of some of the largest machines on land: mining excavators, gigantic dump trucks, and support equipment.
They would make great beach toys.
Here’s some of what we saw today:
The Huasco Salt Flats (Salar del Huasco)
Rules of the Road
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