• info@shutterednature.com

Solar eclipse in the Atacama desert

Solar eclipse in the Atacama desert

After a couple of great weeks in Patagonia we are back in Santiago. Not that there is much to be seen here, the real spectacle is still 500 kilometres away! When the planning of my travels was already taking a lot of shape, I suddenly found out that on July the 2nd there would be a solar eclipse. I didn’t want to really turn my schedule upside down, it was about animals after all, but experiencing a solar eclipse also sounded like a cool thing to do. In the end the trip started in Chilean Patagonia which would make it a shame if we would skip a solar eclipse in that same Chile. So we didn’t and we did not have any regrets!

We depart from the island Chiloé and in the schedule we’ve deliberately left some room in case the weather suddenly gets really bad. In case no plane leaves we still have an option to travel over land to Santiago, but that would mean an extra 1000 kilometres of driving, which would make it uncertain if we would get there in time. Luckily the weather is fine and the plane leaves without any delays. At Santiago we already notice that the whole world has left for Chile for that solar eclipse. While we are queuing for our rental car we’ve got time to order a pizza and we can take our time finishing it. Then some creditcardtrouble, but then we’ve got our key! Our car is at first nowhere to be found, but in the end we sit in our new rental car. Still 500 kilometres ahead of us!

During a solar eclipse only in a very limited area a full eclipse can be seen and a full eclipse is a whole different ball game than a partial, even if it is 99%! The largest city in ‘the zone’ is La Serena. So that’s the one we’re driving towards. Along the way we see a lot of hitchhikers who are going to make an effort to reach La Serena today or probably tonight. I’m afraid they probably didn’t all make it. Planning guys!

Finally in the dark we reach the city. Then it’s time for the next challenge, finding a place to sleep. We had already counted on it that it wouldn’t be easy and that fear is justified. We ask at a lot of hostels but they are all full. Solar Eclipse tourists have occupied the town! At a hotel there are still rooms available but at 400 dollars a night… Maybe next time! Finally about 15 kilometres outside the city we stumble upon a kind of under construction bungalow park. There we can sleep for a good price in a just finished bungalow and we also get some food! So that worked out fine in the end.

The next morning we leave early, but we are unpleasantly surprised that the road has been closed off. We want to go to La Silla a star observatory, but that’s going to be difficult… Luckily we find another small road that takes us to the main road. We’re not going fast but we are getting there! On the road we see how the mountain slopes are packed with literally thousands of cars.

Finally we reach our exit. It turns out however that La Silla can only be accessed by people carrying a ticket and those were sold out a year ago.. Later we also see the helicopter of the president of Chile flying to the place and apparently also Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates were present. For us there is something else! They’ve also arranged something nice for commoners. There is a whole festival!

Right in the middle of the Atacama desert with a great view to all sides at a height of 2000 meters. It doesn’t get much more perfect than this!

You can see La Silla in the distance

We kill some time by looking around a bit, there is even a circus present!

Right in the middle of the terrain a tent has been erected with a big screen showing a clock counting down to zero. Also there is music being played there.

The final countdown

About ten minutes before the eclipse starts, I find myself a place a couple of hundred meters in front of the crowd. Camera on the tripod and waiting again!

My view, slowly it gets darker

There isn’t much to be seen when the moon starts to pass in front of the sun. The lighting appear to be just as bright, but with the special eclipseglasses it’s easy to watch the progress. The shadows are getting longer. From the tent I hear fitting music.

It’s getting darker and darker and the shadows get longer and longer. Suddenly the moon is visible with the naked eye and then it suddenly goes really fast. A shadow moves over the earth. The last rays of sunlight disappear. There it is! It truly is indescribable what can be seen then and how that feels. The music and the great surroundings certainly also play their part. This is something everyone should witness for themselves one day because getting a good photo of this is not possible. The sun has a beautiful and very special blue colour with a very thin white edge around it. The light is a dark blue and stars are visible.

It lasts about two minutes, but those pass in a flash. Then suddenly the light creeps around the moon and there is light again! Really a solar eclipse is indescribable. Without any exaggeration this was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life and I still had the memories of the puma’s of Torres fresh in my mind! Now I finally understand what drives people to travel all across the world to see every eclipse. Literally three minutes before the full eclipse I still thought it was a bit exaggerated but then you see it! This is certainly one of those things everyone should experience at least once in their lives. But all right, enough talk. There are still some photos!

Like I said photos don’t show how it really was. The moon is not black when it is covering the sun, but blue. On the photo below I’ve done my best to come close to the real thing by editing it in Lightroom. It didn’t totally get there, but there is a start!

I also made a little video that shows how the world turned dark for a few minutes. Also notice the music and the responses!

In the musictent a very fitting opera is being sung while the sun shines her first rays again.

We eventually decide to leave because we expect that we’ll have a long drive ahead of us. That turns out to be the case. All the thousands of cars need to get back and traffic accidents also happen. I count a total of five and we need five hours to get to La Serena…

Some kilometres after La Serena we finally find a camping in the middle of the night where we can sleep. It was a long day, but worth all the trouble!




Leave your message

%d bloggers like this: