This was the second trip to Chile after almost thirty years but to new locations.  It was the first trip to Panama, only at the airport before.  Spent three days in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, four days in Easter Island, and three days in Panama.




San Pedro de Atacama is the base town for this region of the Atacama Desert and is located about 60 miles from the town of Calama that is the nearest airport, two hour flight from the capital Santiago.  It is a very touristy area with many hostels and backpackers where you are likely to see as many tourists as locals.  Most of the tourists are from Europe and South America.  The town is at about 8,000' elevation although the altiplano lagoon regions reaches about 12,000' elevation.   Pukara de Quitor ruins are just outside the town to the north while the Tulor ruins and farm are a little further away to the south.   Valle de la Luna is to the west.

Atacama Desert is one of the driest places in the world.  There are various places to see using San Pedro de Atacama as the base.  The twin lagoons Miscanti and Miniques are at about 12,000 feet elevation about an hour half drive away.  The smaller towns Tocanao and Socaire are along the way.  Laguna Chaxa is also along the way.  Licancabur Volcano is omnipresent over San Pedro de Atacama.

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Easter Island is one of the most isolated inhabited places, five hour flight from Santiago, Chile to the east and five hour flight from Tahiti to the northwest.  It is not big with no more than 12 miles from one end to the other.  Apart from Anakena Beach on the north coast it is not a typical South Pacific island.  Easter Island is only an english given name and Chile also refer to easter calling it Isla de Pascua.  But it is called Rapa Nui by Polynesians that has nothing to do with easter.

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Panama City is located on the east side of the Panama Canal and is the principal city in Panama.  Miraflores Locks are the closest canal locks to the city center.  The Amador Causeway at the Pacific end of the canal is a picturesque location that leads to the islands Perico and Flamenco.

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