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San Pedro de Atacama - an enforced rest day

View High Altitude Landscapes Tour - Bolivia, Chile & Argentina 2023 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Terrantai Lodge may not serve food in the evening, but they make an awesome breakfast, including freshly squeezed orange juice on the premises and a delicious apple tart. And all the other usual suspects as well, of course.

As I promised the doctor yesterday, I go back to the clinic at 10:00. My blood pressure is up (157/75), but my SP0² has improved dramatically, and now stands at 94%. I am assured that if I continue to improve, I will be discharged tomorrow and can leave San Pedro de Atacama and continue on our journey, albeit with an amended itinerary. But first, he wants me to see a kinesiologist (whatever one of those may be) here at the clinic. Gastón goes down to the appropriate ward to book me in, but is told that it is by appointment only, and only available to residents of the city. Calling in a favour, the doctor pulls a few strings with the director of the clinic, and I get to see the specialist straight away.

As the appointment is not totally above board, the kinesiologist comes to the emergency room rather than me going to his ward. He speaks reasonable English, which helps tremendously. He tells me I still have some mucus in the top left lung, which he manages to get rid of while pushing down hard on my chest at the same time as I breathe out. According to him, my chest is like a 15-year-old now!

Before I leave the clinic, I ask about Baby Mia from yesterday's drama, and am told she has been transferred to a hospital in the next big town and is doing OK. I breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Gastón drops me back at the hotel for a rest before we all three walk into town for lunch a little later. San Pedro de Atacama has a laid-back hippy feel about it – no high-rise buildings, no advertising hoardings, no tarmacked roads, and most of the construction is made from mud bricks.




BLT sandwich for lunch

Meanwhile, Undiscovered Destinations and their local agents have been working hard to put together a new itinerary for us. The various options have been discussed, with the worst-case scenario suggested by the insurance company as medical repatriation. This would be my least favourite option, and the most expensive by far for the insurance company, so I am sure they were grateful when I let them know that I would ideally like to continue with the trip while avoiding high altitudes as much as possible.

The problem is, San Pedro de Atacama is in a bit of a bowl, so all routes out of here involve travelling over a high pass – unless we drive down to Santiago on the coast and fly home from there. What the agents are suggesting, is to drive via Jama Pass and down to Pumamarca and Salta, from where we can do the last week or so of the original itinerary in reverse. Yes, it does mean that we will miss out on some of the highlights, but my health must come first. Those highlights are all at altitudes above 3,500 metres, and that would go against what the local doctor - as well as the insurance company's medical team - advises. This suggested new route is the only sensible option.

See the original against the newly revised itinerary below: the red line is the original route, the blue line is the new planned route (avoiding high altitudes as much as possible), and the greyed-out area shows the bits we will be missing.


It is in times like this that I am so grateful that we have booked this trip through Undiscovered Destinations, as they have been so helpful (along with the local agent, of course), and taken charge of the whole situation. It means that I don't have to worry about any of the logistics on top of everything else, taking all the pressure off me. Thank you, guys!

When we get back to the lodge after lunch, the staff at the hotel have organised a humidifier for my room. I am totally blown away by all the kindness I have been met with on this trip.


I spend the rest of the day in bed, while David goes out with Gastón for dinner later.

Thank you to Undiscovered Destinations for organising this trip. Most travel companies can put together a great itinerary, it is when something goes wrong that you find out just HOW good they are – and UD has yet again shown us excellent customer service.


Posted by Grete Howard 21:55 Archived in Bolivia Tagged medical map breakfast san_pedro_de_atacama clinic blood_pressure humidifier undiscovered_destinations high_altitude chest_infection sp02 terrantai terrantai_lodge insurance_company bronchitis kinesiologist baby_mia medical_evacuation high_pass jama_pass itinerary_changes

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I'm so pleased you heard good news about baby Mia :) And also, again, that you were so well looked-after, AND able to continue with some sort of trip. Like you I would have preferred that way more than just flying home!

by ToonSarah

Nice to hear baby Mia is doing well as well as the service the company is providing. This sounds more than good that they take such good care. Being is sick abroad is terrible enough, it is nice to know there are still people willing to help and make things easier!

by Ils1976

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