Ojos del SaladoFood & Accommodation
Ojos del Salado food and accommodation
Getting to, and climbing Ojos del Salado will involve a few different conditions in terms of what you eat and where you sleep. We will pass though the City of Santiago, the town of Copiapo, a lakeside camp, basecamp and finally a high camp.
Flying into Santiago you can either stay for a few days enjoy a relaxing time in the capital of Chile or head straight to the small mining town of Copiapo. You can either fly there or take the coach, a journey inland of about 12 hours. The coaches are very comfortable - known as semi cama - and it is well worth noting that the internal flight has a lower baggage limit than the international flights.
Copiapo is a traditional mining town on the edge of the Atacama Desert which was made famous by the disaster in 2010 when a mining accident caused a team of men to be caught underground. The town is quite bustling and has a good range of shops, and we stay in a comfortable hotel doing the shopping in preparation for the trip. Since there are no shops or even any fresh water in the Atacama we have to provide everything for the trip and load up the 4x4 vehicles that we will be driving. This means rationing fresh bottled water and being very careful about the meal allocation.
Lake Camps & Basecamp
Our camp facilities comprise the food and equipment that we have brought with us in the vehicles from Copiapo. We will sleep and eat in 2 or 3 man dome tents; occasionally there are some local providers at the camp site. Toilet facilities are communual long drops and washing will usually be via a bowl of water. However at the edge of the Laguna Verde where we camp, we have the luxurious option of bathing in the natural hot springs which are wonderful. The lake itself is highly mineralised and the water is freezing cold. Expect extremes of temperature, generally very hot, dry and dusty conditions while we are acclimatising.
On the Mountain
Above basecamp we will be fending for ourselves. Anything we wear, sleep in or eat must be driven in or carried up to the two higher camps. We are likely to be primarily eating dehydrated meals such as noodles, soups, oatmeal etc. perhaps supplemented by some dried meat & vegetables or tinned fish.
Initially we drive up to the base camp and put the tents up in quite an exposed space where there is likely to be snow on the ground. Meals are cooked here and eaten in the tents, but again there may be a local provider who has a large mess tent we can use.
After a few days we move up to the high camp where there is a converted shipping container to sleep in; it has 8 beds with space to lie on the floor. We have to carry up all our own supplies for this camp and the toilets are outdoors.
After the expediton it is possible to drive all the way back to Copiapo in one day, since we will not be acclimatising.