After enjoying the beauty of Altiplanic Lagoons (Lagunas Altiplanicas) and Salar de Atacama in the first part of the day, the second tour took us to Cejar Lagoon (Laguna Cejar), Ojos del Salar and Tebinquinche Lagoon (Laguna Tebinquinche). As I said in the other post, our first tour took longer than planned, what left us short on time in San Pedro de Atacama.
We got to San Pedro past 3 pm, and the tour to Laguna Cejar would start at four. It was just enough time to change jeans for shorts, boots for flip-flops and check the items in my backpack: towels, some spare shorts and a jacket for the end of the day. Yes, swimwear! We could dive in two of the lagoons on this tour…
The trip to Laguna Cejar doesn’t take too long, the road there is about 25 kilometers long. The car of the agency was full, and when we got there, we saw cars from other agencies already parked, certainly because it’s one of the tours that tourists most look for.
Besides being beautiful and exotic, like almost all of the places we visited in the Atacama, the biggest difference in Laguna Cejar is that your body doesn’t sink! Yes, that’s right! The concentration of salt in the water is so high that it makes us float without an effort. That’s an experience you absolutely cannot miss.
However, before anything, for the first time I’ll have to apologize for the pictures. I think the excitement to get into Laguna Cejar was such that I didn’t pay much attention to the photos. The few ones I took were with my GoPRO, and they’re more funny than pretty… oh, well, it can’t be helped now, so here we go…
I confess that I thought the water would be colder, so it wasn’t that hard to get into the lagoon. The feeling when you get in is pretty funny. You really can’t sink, even if you try really hard.
I stayed there for a long time, floating and enjoying the experience. Ah, here’s a tip: avoid water contact with your eyes, hair and lips (especially if they’re cracked due to the dry weather). The water is extremely salty… a little bit of it got into my eye and mouth, and they burned quite a lot… but nonetheless it’s totally worth going in the lagoon!
When I got out of the water I could have an even better idea of the salt concentration there. As I dried up with the sun, my body started to get covered in salt… completely white. From what I’ve heard, the salt concentration there is even higher than in the Dead Sea, so it’s A LOT of salt indeed.
But let’s not make a big deal out of it! Next to the lagoon, there are some freshwater showers to clean the salt off your body.
Back to the car, we continued to our next stop: Ojos del Salar. They’re actually two craters with not-so-salty water (I don’t know if they’re fresh, either), where you can swim. I didn’t dive this time, and just watched the other people jumping and playing around in the water.
I have to admit that I didn’t discover the origin of those two huge holes in the middle of the desert. If you have a theory, please leave a comment here.
Well, after having a great time there, we got back to the car and headed to our last stop of the day, Laguna Tebinquinche. When I arrived there, I thought I would find a lagoon like the other ones, but that was actually an enormous salt lake.
To the travelers who won’t stretch their trip to Salar do Uyuni, in Bolivia, this is a chance to check out what it has to offer. Of course it’s in a smaller scale, but still very beautiful. The view was incredible, and everyone tried to take funny pictures… And I kept jumping!
When the sunset came, the guys from Ayllu Agency gave us a snack. We had the chance to try pisco sour, a traditional drink of the region. They say there are many versions of this Pisco thing, and I really hope so, because the one that I tried was horrible! Hahaha. But I guess it’s just a matter of personal taste… Try it if you go there! (good luck).
The day ended like this… having a toast in the middle of the desert. With a cool breeze and the memory of the many beautiful places I saw throughout the day.
When we got in the car on the way back to San Pedro it was already getting dark, and the stars were shining in the sky. Not a single one of us stayed awake in the car (except for the driver, of course!).
I woke up as we were arriving in San Pedro… Craving a shower and my bed!
General information about the tour:
The tour was made with Ayllu Expediciones Agency, I highly recommend it! Read more about agencies here.
Price (updated in 2015): 28,000 Chilean pesos + 2,000 to get into the reserve where the lagoons are.
Tips: Take swimwear, some spare shorts, sunscreen, sunglasses, a cap/hat, and you can wear flip-flops. Be careful when walking around Laguna Cejar, as the crystalized salt might cut your feet.
If you go to Chile and you need accommodation, check out the best options on Booking.
Read this post in Portuguese: Laguna Cejar, Ojos del Salar e Laguna Tebinquinche