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You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

Exploring the Altiplano Lagoons in Atacama Desert with Cosmo Andino

Today, I had the most amazing travel day in South America. Oh wait, have I actually said that before? Like at the Mendoza Wine Festival? During my hike in Torres del Paine National Park? Or when dancing the Tango in Buenos Aires with my lovely man … ? 🙂

Arriving in San Pedro de Atacama: Lots of tourists, lots of options, good to know if you already have a recommendation for organizing your Atacama experience.

Arriving in San Pedro de Atacama: Lots of tourists, lots of options, good to know if you already have a recommendation for organizing your Atacama experience.

A good place to start is by visiting the "Museum of Local History" at the Plaza Central, explaining the history and very interesting archaeology of this place and the first people.

A good place to start is by visiting the “Museum of Local History” at the Plaza Central, explaining the history and very interesting archaeology of this place and the first people.

The Atacama desert in Chile is one of the driest places on Earth, and undeniably also one of the most attractive. Every second door in San Pedro de Atacama, its “tourism epicentre”, is actually a hostel, a tour company or a corner store catering to visitors. From serious trekkers as in “Atacama Crossing” to laid-back tour groups, the choice of options to explore the area is simply overwhelming.

Very lucky was I therefore to go by the recommendation of my two world travelling buddies Anne-Laure & Julien, who recommended me to explore the area of San Pedro de Atacama with Cosmo Andino. This tour company is different from its dozens of competitors in that it literally offers “quality time in the Atacama“, including better meals, better service, smaller tour groups and itineraries that avoid the mass tourism trails. Right up my alley – always avoiding the crowds as good as I can. Let’s go, then 🙂 !

The first stop on our "Altiplano Lagoons" full day tour is the Atacama Salt Flats, where we get to watch this amazingly peaceful scenery of flamingos feasting in the shallows.

The first stop on our “Altiplano Lagoons” full day tour is the Atacama Salt Flats, where we get to watch this amazingly peaceful scenery of flamingos feasting in the shallows.

Not photoshopped, I promise ;) So lucky to have been here, I'm loving this day.

Not photoshopped, I promise 😉 So lucky to have been here, I’m loving this day.

These beautiful surroundings literally blow my mind ... Our tour guide David gives us a lot of useful information about the history, geology and archaeology of this area.

These beautiful surroundings literally blow my mind … Our tour guide David gives us a lot of useful information about the history, geology and archaeology of this area.

Finally, a single flamingo "decides to pose" for a close-up encounter ... beautiful.

Finally, a single flamingo “decides to pose” for a close-up encounter … beautiful.

Searching the salty waters for food, it is incredible how these elegant and beautiful birds manage to survive (and thrive) in these harsh desert salt pans.

Searching the salty waters for food, it is incredible how these elegant and beautiful birds manage to survive (and thrive) in these harsh desert salt pans.

Heading up high: Exploring the “Lagunas Altiplánicas”

From our beautiful morning seeing the flamingos and enjoying a lavish “brunch” breakfast outside the nature reserve (thank you, Carlos & David!), we then climbed more than a 1.000 metres up to the “Altiplano” highlands where underwater streams feed spectacular mountain lagoons. Out of this world! Make sure you come here one day – it’s really worth it.

Reaching the top: At almost 4.200 metres, even walking a few steps puts pressure on your system such as a racing heart of a constant feeling of tiredness. Yet, amazing to be here for sure!!!

Reaching the top: At almost 4.200 metres, even walking a few steps puts pressure on your system such as a racing heart of a constant feeling of tiredness. Yet, amazing to be here for sure!!!

David, thank you so much for all your input and information! You really made this day for me, and It has been lovely meeting you on this trip :)

David, thank you so much for all your input and information! You really made this day for me, and It has been lovely meeting you on this trip 🙂

On the website of Cosmo Andino, it reads: “Full day up in the Cordillera de los Andes – far from civilization, close to the heavens. We take you places not mentioned in the guide books: no other people out there, just you and us. Our special CosmoAndino treat!

This is really true, as on our second stop during this trip, there is literally nobody but us (a tour group of 10 people).

Love the lagoons, this mountain desert environment is just amazing. Perhaps it shows ;)

Love the lagoons, this mountain desert environment is just amazing. Perhaps it shows 😉

The salt flats of this magic spot, where nobody else but us goes, are a world apart from anything I've ever seen. This is the place to come back to - a secret tip, really: El Salar de Talar, or Aguas Calientes!

The salt flats of this magic spot, where nobody else but us goes, are a world apart from anything I’ve ever seen. This is the place to come back to – a secret tip, really: El Salar de Talar, or Aguas Calientes!

Time for lunch: David & Carlos double as chefs besides being driver & guide. A delicious combination, the food is abundant and leaves you full right up till the evening.

Time for lunch: David & Carlos double as chefs besides being driver & guide. A delicious combination, the food is abundant and leaves you full right up till the evening.

My fellow travel buddy from Germany "absolutely wants to climb this volcano", another tour offered in town ... San Pedro de Atacama offers something for everybody. My recommendation is: Go check it out!

My fellow travel buddy from Germany “absolutely wants to climb this volcano”, another tour offered in town … San Pedro de Atacama offers something for everybody. My recommendation is: Go check it out!

Hungry for more stunning, “out-of-this-world” photography? Check out my Flickr photo gallery:

 

Disclaimer: I have been invited by Cosmo Andino on this trip to experience Atacama Desert and the Altiplano Lagoons. All opinions are my own.

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Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
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