Chile is an amazing place, and I've only seen a tiny part of it! For quite some time I've wanted to visit the driest desert in the world. I seem drawn to deserts, and I've visited a few - so the Atacama was a must see.
I spent most of my time in Chile in a small town slap bang in the middle of the desert called San Pedro de Atacama, and from there I did a number of tours. Seeing the salt flats was amazing even though they are quite rough - it's something to do with the water seeping up through the mud to evaporate, leaving the earth and salt like a ploughed field.
I was worried about the altitude, as some of the places I visited where at almost 3000m, right in the altitude sickness zone, so I asked one of the locals and his advice was to drink plenty of Coca Tea. I did exactly that, and survived, but the views of the desert still left me breathless!
I remember waking up at about 3am in my hotel room, trying to catch my breath, and having a series of non sequential thoughts about the weirdest of things, the last of which was 'I must be going mad', and then thinking "I can't be, as mad people don't know they're mad" and then falling back to sleep. I think that was due to lack of oxygen!
My last stop in Chile was the border town of Arica, which used to be the driest inhabited place, until Nick Middleton found Quillagua down the road was even dryer. However Arica still has another claim to fame, that being it's pre-fabricated iron church designed by a Mr Eiffel in France and shipped to Arica in bits.