Today was planned to be a driving day, to get away from Santiago and into cactus country. We still managed the traditional stop at Pichidangui (S1895) that confirmed that everything looked greener than on most previous visits.
A quick stop at the Pronto at Los Sorcos, just before the Fray Jorge National Park for a hot dog and a cup of coffee.
S1896 was another old favourite stop, overlooking the village of Los Hornos and Quebrada Honda. We failed to find the crested Copiapoa coquimbana that we had seen in previous years but found a cristate Echinopsis (Trichocereus) coquimbana instead. Checking up my notes indicates that on past stops I had always reported E. acida growing here, but this time, easily distinguishable by its flowers and hypanthium, E. breviflora can also be confirmed to grow here. Useful information to add to the Eulychnia book that Paul Hoxey and I have been working on.
Juan had phoned ahead and booked us into Hotel Skitniza.
This trip promises to be more like a cactus tourist trips, visiting old places rather than extensive exploring. For David of course, everything is new and he has been heard to mumble that it’s like having died and gone to cactus heaven.