We were now pretty much in the the Atacama desert, the dryest place on earth where there are places where there have been no recorded rainfall. That´s dry. It's also strange that this is also by the sea but there you have it. We were warned that there wouldn't be an abundance of fuel stops on the way north so I got myself a 5L water bottle to carry a bit more gas. I think this is how it's going to be for the next good while, although it will be a lot worse in Bolivia. The first day ended in Bahia Inglasia at a rather expensive campsite. The scenery on the way hadn't been too exiting really however the next day as we headed towards Charal and into the Pan de Azur national park area, it was just great. The road runs between the mountains and the sea and the rock formations are just amazing. The white sandy beaches stretch on for miles so we decided to stop on one for lunch. It was totally deserted though the water was just a little too cold to go in past the 'Ohh zone'. Somehow, no one was around to collect the entrance fee at the national part, something of a rarity for Chile so we went on until we found a campsite. It cost 5,000pesos but that didn't stop them trying to charge 7,000. In the end, having a cold shower turned out to cost me 500pesos. I believe its quite different for the locals though as they are encouraged to go to the parks. We saw this in Argentina too where we had to pay 15GBPs whereas the locals were charged 3GBPs. Trust me, its just the same with empanandas too.
After the national park, the road turned inland and for the next 500kms or so, we had rather dull desert scenery to look at. We did see the 'big hand' just before the shithole that is Antogafasta and took the obligatory photos. I'm not too sure it was altogether necessary for someone to spray red graffitti on it though.
We passed a couple of dogs on the road, one of which was spaniel, and both looked in good health. The trouble was, there was nothing and no one around for miles and we assumed that someone had recently dumped them there. I've had spaniels for the last 20 years so that made me feel pretty sad as there was not a lot we could do