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We’d recovered from the night under canvas the previous night and woke up refreshed in the comfort of the cabañas at Taltal. As though we had not seen enough, we travelled back north on the coast road, making our first stop of the day (S069) not far from Taltal on the way to Paposo at what we were told was the type locality of Copiapoa cinerea ssp. gigantea. Apart from the massive stems, these plants were not dramatically different from the plants we had seen in Quebrada San Ramon and for me sit comfortably as member’s of the Cinerea complex. Is their size just an environmental feature or is this a ‘race’ of giant cinerea? Again, many plants had been damaged by mice, judging by the plentiful supply of mouse droppings.

Our resident mountain goat, Leo, climbed up the coastal hills, in search of C. oliviana that was reported from this area, but returned disappointed.

Next we turned south, past Taltal, towards Ruta 5, turning off for Cifuncho and stopping (S070) some 5 km past an earlier stop (S048), but this time found no cacti. Marlon walked on over the crest of a low hill and reports finding C. desertorum and Eriosyce taltalensis.

We carried on towards  Cifuncho and as the track reached the bay, (S071) we turned right (north), away from the village, until the track ran out, near an electricity substation on the shore. Here we found C. rupestris. On the way back towards the main track, we made several more (unnumbered) stops and found many more of the same plants.

It had been a relatively quiet and relaxing day, with time for some souvenir hunting and shopping for provisions at the market in Taltal, followed by an early night, so that we would be well rested for an early start the next day, to see the sun rise over Cerro Perales.

S071_21

S071: C. rupestris growing north of Cifuncho

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