Atacama – Where’s Nobody

After missing South America for 3 years, I decided to come back exploring a different region for Christmas 2017.
I read about this huge altipiano called Atacama, between Chile and Bolivia, where 6000m volcanoes rise from the driest desert on earth.
There are places in Atacama where never (NEVER) rained in all history!

Landed in Calama, I had my base in San Pedro de Atacama, a small community close to Licancabour volcano. Already travelling from Calama, I understood that this was not the easiest habitat for me: dry, hot and without snow. Then I started going around, covering the huge empty distances with an off road pickup, and, when the engine wasn’t able anymore to breath for the altitude, trekking up.

Cerro Toco was my first volcano, with his 5600 meters of altitude, where I started feeling a sense of freedom in a complete solitude. But was climbing Volcano Lascar that I realized the true essence of “Volcanismo”: it was like to be an astronaut, exploring Mars. Red rocks all around, few air to breath, pulsing head and not a sound except my heartbeat. I never reached the summit, and the next 3 days I wans’t able to go out from my base due to a hard sickness, more spiritual than physical.

Reorganized my mind, eating lot of Quinotto (the best quinoa experience of my life), I felt more in connection and ready to explore this alien planet. So I left to Bolivia.

My first stop was Volcano Licancabour, where I almost touched 6000m for the first time in my life. Climbing up at slow pace was like running, breathing only with my nose, only with a nostril. But seeing this green laguna in the middle of the crater, surrounded by Los Penitentes, an ice formation typical of ultra-dry altitudes, made me feeling so in contact with the ground.

The days after I went more inside Bolivian Altopiano, seeing active volcanoes and the huge Salar de Uyuni, where old jeep drive around tons of tourist, with the lonely Island Incahuasi (that reminded my the Island of Death by Bocklin) as final destination.

I came back home shocked by Atacama, it was so different from my beloved cold wilderness, so empty, so dead. But it fascinated me, a land of telluric spirits whispering behind volcanic rocks.

This travel was also the first where I shot some film frames. I was amazed by the truth of the colors and by scratches and dust, far from reality, but so close to my memories.