Short answer: Book a flight.
When trying how to figure out how to meet my friends A and C in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, I needed to figure out a route to get myself to where I needed to be.
My plan, at least for Chile, would be to enter the country from central Argentina. Then I would like to explore Santiago and the surrounding area, and from there head north to meet up with my friends.
I did not plan that the overland trip would take 24 hours by bus. That’s right people, a full day. On a bus.
I had seriously thought about doing the research to break the ride up into four 6-hour days. But I decided that it sounded even worse. I think I’d rather get it over with in one shot.
The girls will be flying Chicago – Santiago – Calama. I looked into getting on the same LAN leg from Santiago to Calama as the girls. Alas, the price on the most expensive airline in Chile brings the price for a one-way non-stop flight during the peak summer season reaches nearly $500USD. For that price, the 24-hour bus ride was now very much a real possibility.
Determined to find another airline with that route so I could compare prices, I scoured the travel boards of BootsnAll and LonelyPlanet. Trying to find the information about this tiny airport on Google was fruitless. The hotel was helpful as was the TripAdvisor boards.
Sky Airlines had several daily flights from Santiago to Calama except I did not want to take any chances booking a flight with stops if I was to meet the girls that day. When I checked the flight schedules for the day before, I found one direct flight. Now I am scheduled to get into San Pedro de Atacama the day before the girls arrive.
It’s a two-hour non-stop one-way flight on Sky Airlines. I paid $165USD, and it will be fully paid for before I leave, therefore, it is well worth it, and not coming out of my ‘official’ travel budget.
And one less thing to figure out: the hotel has agreed to pick me up at the airport even though I am not (read: cannot afford) staying there for the one night before our reservation starts. I don’t have to think about sorting transportation for the hour ride into town.
I’m not totally off the hook for the long-haul bus ride. Check out the next post for how I could very well take a 20-hour bus ride.