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Drive or Bike to Cejar Lagoon (Half-Day)

Effortlessly float in Laguna Cejar, in an experience that can only otherwise be found at the Dead Sea.

USD $30.00USD $100.00

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Cejar Lagoon (Half-Day)

Please note that in order to reserve this tour, we need to pay the operator immediately, so all bookings are final. If you have any questions before booking or want to confirm a certain date, please email us at info@keteka.com.

Highlights

  • Float effortlessly in the pristine Laguna Cejar

Overview

Like the Dead Sea, Laguna Cejar is so salty that you float without even trying. If you choose to go via bicycle, we will start the tour from the agency and will finish at Laguna Cejar (24 km), then will go by car back to San Pedro de Atacama. During the tour a vehicle will accompany us a short distance in case of any emergency. If you’d like to skip the bikes this time, we’ll pick you up from your hotel or hostel, and visit a few other lagoons along the way.

The price does not include entrance to the park, which is $15,000 pesos, paid in cash to the park rangers. (Note that we do not include the park entrance fee in the price at the request of the tour operator – they prefer that customers bring their own cash for this fee, instead of being responsible for bringing sufficient cash for the group)

Meeting Time

  • You will leave from the agency at 16:00

What’s Included:

  • Snack (cereal bars and nuts, fruit skewers), juice, and water

What’s Not Included:

  • Park admission ($15,000CLP)

What to Bring:

  • Bathing suit
  • Towel
  • Sandals (to avoid cuts from salt crystals that form on the surface of the lagoon)
  • Additionally, more stable footwear for biking or even just walking around on the uneven terrain
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Water – if you’re biking this will be especially important to stay hydrated, but even if you’re not biking this is still highly recommended as the dry heat of the desert can dehydrate you even without rigorous physical activity

Important Notes:

  • Difficulty Level: In case you have any difficulty such as exhaustion or an unexpected problem with riding the bicycles, you will have the option to reach the destination by car.
    • Because the Atacama Desert sits at a relatively high altitude, you may be shorter of breath than you’re used to. The intense sun of a desert could also lead to quicker exhaustion than usual. These things won’t put you at any serious health risk, but you should be mindful of these differences in environment

This guide offers regular tours for groups of 4 to 15 people. Your reservation admits you to be a part of one of these groups. If you are interested in organizing a private tour for yourself or for a group, contact us in the chat box in the bottom right corner, or send us an email at info@keteka.com.

Map

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Laguna Cejar

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Laguna Cejar -23.064239, -68.212856

 

The Unique Properties of the Cejar Lagoon

Many people know of the Dead Sea that sits surrounded by Jordan, Israel, and Palestine as a place where you can float effortlessly. Based on the desert climates bordering the Dead Sea, it’s not surprising to find that the another lagoon with similar properties is located in the driest non-polar desert in the world. People are able to float effortlessly because of the high salt content of the water. Though salt content number vary throughout parts of the lagoon, some areas have percentage that even rivals the Dead Sea.

One of the reasons places like these have such a high salt content is because they are completely landlocked, with no rivers or other bodies of water affecting it.

Due to its location, the water also stays rather warm year round. After your bike ride you may initially desire colder water to cool off, but in no time you will be enjoying the relaxation that the warmer temperature provides.

Bicycle Safety

Considering you will be biking through a remote desert as opposed to a city, there are not nearly as many traffic-related hazards you will have to worry about. However, there are still precautions you should and many of them are related simply to the environment you will be biking in. Sunscreen, proper attire, and water are all important items to help protect your body from the effects of the harsh desert sun. Lightweight, sweat-wicking clothing is a good choice as it will keep you cool while still guarding your skin from draining UV rays.

Altitude is another factor that may be different from your usual biking experiences. The Atacama Desert sits at a fairly high altitude, and this can cause shortness of breath that becomes more noticeable during physical activity. Also, the one key component of fighting off altitude sickness is hydration, so this means considering packing even more water than usual.

Stay on the roads and follow your guide carefully, as the terrain in Atacama can be quite unpredictable. And even though there is nowhere near the amount of traffic you would find in a city, cars do still come down the roads and you have to be mindful of them.

Sustainability of Bicycle Tourism

The sustainability of bicycle tourism can be traced back to the creation of the bicycles themselves. A bicycle requires significantly less energy to make than other forms of transportation, so the benefits begin before the bike is even put to use. In terms of Joules of energy, they use a fraction of what is needed to build a car, for example. In addition to that, it is more environmentally friendly to build bike pathways than it is to build roads for automobiles. Not only is less energy required in their creation, but also less raw materials. These paths also take up less space than roads, leaving more of the environment intact.

When it comes to aiding the environment, bicycles are most known for their contribution to air quality. When people talk about more eco-friendly cars, they often talk about which cars produce less emissions. However, when comparing transportation such as cars or buses to bicycles, the amount of emissions drops to zero. Biking doesn’t contribute to air pollution by any means, making it the friendliest mode of transportation alongside walking.

And another means of which bicycle tourism is more sustainable is that it doesn’t contribute nearly as heavily to noise pollution as vehicles. Noise pollution is shown to affect the health of people living in the area. It can lead to high stress levels, hearing loss, sleep disturbances, and hypertension among other things. And while it doesn’t quite have a direct impact on the environment the way that air pollution does, it does still have an effect. Animals find themselves driven further and further away from built-up areas as their hearing becomes damaged from the sound. When their hearing suffers, it can make them easier prey to other animals and also weaken the effect of their mating calls, both of which can contribute to dwindling populations of species.

History of the Region

The Atacama Desert has been inhabited for over 10,000 years. However, the first organized tribes only began to roam the area as hunter-gatherers about 7,000 years ago. The Loa River acts as the main water source of the desert with sustained agricultural and llama-herding villages scattered around it and San Pedro de Atacama since about 900 BC. Near Lake Titicaca, the Tiwanaku culture grew in power, and its influence is still seen today in the region’s textile iconography. As this group faded, the Atacamenos took control in the desert  in 1000 BC by developing a system to transport goods from the coast to the Andes. Then, the 15th century saw the rise of the Inca Empire.

The origin of the name, “Atacama,” is still debated. Some believe the name stems from the black-and-white-coated Tacama duck, a species that is indigenous to both northern Chile and the Peruvian coast. Others trace the name to the indigenous Kunza language, which has a word, “Atchamar”. This means “head of the country”, and it is how the Atacamenos referred to their land.

Tales of gold somewhere south of the Inca Empire it was first led Europeans to the Atacama Desert. Spanish conquistador Diego de Almagro first set foot in the region. From there, the Spanish invaded and brought the downfall of the Incas and Atacamenos, who had resisted European rule. The Atacamenos were killed in masses before they signed an agreement to remain subjects of the Spanish.

Chile claimed the Atacama Desert as part of its territory following the War of the Pacific (1879-1883), and labeled the indigenous groups in the area as Chilean nationals. Tribes were torn apart as the national borders between Chile, Peru and Bolivia broke ties. Many Atacamenos engaged in silver nitrate and copper mining in the 19th century until the silver nitrate industry collapsed in the early 20th century, leading to an economic crisis. In 1933, the Chilean government finally acknowledged the Atacamenos as one of nine indigenous groups in the country. However, the state never fairly redistributed the tribe’s ancestral land, which they view as sacred.

Recently, tourism has built new economic opportunities for indigenous groups and other peoples in Atacama. Cultural tourism acts as a crucial source of income for locals in tiny villages that practice llama herding or mining, and some find they no longer need to migrate to larger cities like Calama to support themselves and their families.

Weather

The Atacama Desert is much like any other desert in the sense that no matter the time of year, you’ll experience warm weather and strong sun during the day, followed by cold temperatures at night. The lack of precipitation makes it pretty easy to plan trips to San Pedro de Atacama as the only difference between the summer and winter is a greater extreme of heat during the summer. This won’t necessarily ruin this tour, as you can also choose to be driven to Cejar Lagoon, but if you are intent on biking you should note that it will be even more brutal to do so during the summer.

Also, radiation from the sun is quite high year-round. So not only should you be careful concerning the heat of the sun, but you should also seriously consider applying sunblock as it will not only protect your skin but help ward off the sun from draining your energy.

Geology of Deserts

When people think of deserts, sand is often the first thing that comes to mind. Which makes it interesting to think that much of the sand in deserts likely didn’t originate from that location. While some desert sand is formed by the erosion of rocks in the area, much of it was once brought there. It often traveled by means of water flow from sources such as a river. As deserts are now often found without bodies of water, it is believed that the sand was carried there before the area developed the arid climate that makes water scarce and transformed into the deserts we see now. Desert sand also tends to be finer than that of beaches, for example, leading it to also be blown around in the wind much easier.

Sand in the desert also heavily contributes to rock formations. The constant shifting of the sand wears away at the surfaces over time, shaping or flattening them. Rocks are mostly made up of crystals of a variety of minerals, though some can form from the remains of animals or compressed pieces of plants. Rocks are also broken up into three different types: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic.

Igneous rocks are the product of volcanoes, forming when magma crystallizes and solidifies. Granite is actually a type of igneous rock. Sedimentary rocks form from previously existing rocks (clastic sedimentary), remains of creatures (biologic sedimentary), or from chemical precipitation (chemical sedimentary). Sandstone and shale are both examples of sedimentary rocks. Metamorphic rocks aren’t quite as common on the Earth’s surface, as the process through which they are formed most commonly occurs in the Earth’s inner layer. Metamorphic rocks begin as other rocks, and adopt their name as they are transformed by conditions such as high pressure and high heat. A combination of these factors makes the formation of metamorphic rocks even more likely, which is why this tends to occur underneath the Earth’s surface where tectonic plates meet.

Sand and rocks work in a cycle of sorts that spans thousands of years, as sand can eventually transform into sedimentary rock. This happens through two joint processes called compaction and cementation, which together are called sedimentation. Compaction occurs when layer after layer of sediments pile on top of each other over an incredibly long period of time, the sediments at the bottom pressing tighter and tighter together until they eventually become sedimentary rock. Cementation contributes to sedimentation because as these sediments pack together, the minerals from them act as a sort of glue that helps fuse these particles together.

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What Happens After I Book?

After you book your experience, you will receive a confirmation email from us confirming that your payment went through. You will then be connected directly to the tour operator, in case you have any further questions. We are also happy to answer any questions about the tour, or travel in general in your country of destination.

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