Greetings from San Pedro in Chile.
Just two days to go before the start of the 2015 Atacama Crossing…
I arrived in San Pedro last night after more than 24 hours of travelling from South Africa. My trip included three flights – Johannesburg to Sao Paulo in Brazil, then to Santiago in Chile, and finally to Calama in the north in Chile, followed by 100km drive to San Pedro, in the heart of the Atacama Desert.
Given so many issues which can go wrong during the preparations for a desert race, and most importantly, getting to the starting line in a remote part of the world in once piece with all your gear and equipment, I”m very pleased that everything has gone according to plan thus far.
The trip from Sao Paulo to San Pedro gave me an opportunity to once again appreciate the unique geographical diversity and beauty of South America, including the terrain which awaits us next week in the Atacama Desert. Flying west from Sao Paulo to Santiago, the Brazilian landscape is lush green with agricultural activities, big rivers, etc., followed by early glimpses of the brown Atacama Desert once you cross into Chile, then the snow-capped, mighty Andes mountains, and finally lush green valleys as you descend into Santiago. From Santiago to Calama you once again see the Andes mountains in their full glory until you get to the Atacama Desert, and then you realise how unique and different it is compared to any other place on earth. For the final hour flying into Calama and then driving to San Pedro, you get to experience this dry, rugged, lunar-like landscape in its full glory. No wonder NASA has been testing instruments and vehicles for Mars missions in the Atacama Desert!
There is no doubt in my mind that the Atacama Crossing will be a very tough race to complete, but although I”m a bit tired after the long trip to San Pedro, I”m excited about the challenge that lies ahead over the next week.
As this is my fourth and final leg of the 4Desert Series – having already completed the Sahara Race, Gobi March and Last Desert Race in Antarctica – I think it is appropriate to complete my 4Deserts experience with a tough challenge – running 250km race through the Atacama Desert!
I will use the rest of today to check and repack all my gear and equipment, and hopefully reduce the weight of my backpack, as well as explore San Pedro and surroundings with a few other competitors.
Tomorrow morning all competitors will meet for the official race briefing and kit checks, before we depart for our first base camp and the start of the race on Sunday morning, 4 October 2015.
The countdown to the Atacama Crossing continues…
I am dedicating my participation in the Atacama Crossing to the work of The Sunflower Fund in South Africa. The Fund’s vision is to give all South Africans diagnosed with leukaemia and other life-threatening blood disorders the chance of life, irrespective of their race and financial circumstances.
The Sunflower Fund’s slogan is “Share a Little, Save a Life”, and we can all make a contribution by either registering as a potential bone marrow stem cell donor or making a donation in support of its work.
I’m excited about supporting The Sunflower Fund and invite you to join me on this journey.