The Atacama Desert is a desert plateau in South America covering a 1,600 km strip of land on the Pacific coast, west of the Andes Mountains.
10 pictures of Atacama from Guilherme Bustamante, Yaro Felix Mayans Verfurth, Danilo Alvesd and other travelers
To get to the Atacama Desert, you can fly into the nearest airport, El Loa in Calama, which has daily flights from Santiago, Chile's capital city. From Calama, it's about a 100 km drive to San Pedro de Atacama, the main tourist hub in the region. You can rent a car, take a bus, or join a group tour to reach San Pedro.
It's essential to book certain attractions in advance, particularly during the high season (December to February). We recommend booking guided tours to popular sites like the El Tatio Geysers, Valle de la Luna, and the Altiplanic Lagoons. Additionally, reserve your stargazing tour in advance, as the Atacama Desert is one of the best places in the world for astronomy enthusiasts.
Costs in the Atacama Desert can vary depending on your preferences. Budget travelers can expect to spend around $50 to $60 per day, while those seeking a more luxurious experience will likely spend $200 or more per day. This includes accommodation, meals, and guided tours.
Some of the best things to do in the Atacama Desert include:
1. Exploring the otherworldly landscapes of Valle de la Luna.
2. Witnessing the sunrise at El Tatio Geysers.
3. Stargazing at the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) Observatory.
4. Visiting the Altiplanic Lagoons, and the Salar de Atacama, home to Chile's famous pink flamingos.
5. Exploring the ancient archaeological site of Pukará de Quitor.
For dining options in San Pedro de Atacama, consider the following:
1. Adobe: A charming restaurant offering delicious Chilean and international dishes.
2. La Estaka: A local favorite, serving traditional Chilean cuisine with vegetarian options.
3. Baltinache: A cozy spot offering a fusion of international and Chilean flavors.
When it comes to accommodation, consider these options:
1. Hostal Rural: A budget-friendly hostel with a friendly atmosphere and comfortable private rooms.
2. Hotel Pascual Andino: A mid-range hotel offering cozy rooms and outstanding service.
3. Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa: A luxury hotel, perfect for a more indulgent and relaxing stay.
Off the beaten path: For an unusual travel experience, consider visiting the village of Caspana, a hidden gem nestled in a fertile canyon. It's best reached by renting a car or joining a guided tour. In Caspana, you'll find a quaint village with traditional adobe houses, a 17th-century church, and terraced farmlands. The village is not frequented by tourists, making it a perfect destination for those seeking serenity and a glimpse into the Atacama's way of life.
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The Atacama Desert is a hyperarid region of South America located between the South Pacific Ocean and the central volcanic zone of the Andes, in the north of Chile and the extreme south of Peru. The Atacama is known to be one of the most arid regions on Earth. The Atacama Desert offers unique landscapes in the world. Composed of ocher sand dunes, we can admire oases but also volcanic peaks of 6 000 meters high. This desert expanse concentrates an unprecedented variety of landscapes.
The grandiose spectacle that Atacama offers does not stop here: its volcanoes form a natural line that constitutes the border between three countries, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile. And for good reason! This area is 994 miles (1,600 km) long and 112 miles (180 km) wide! There are precious minerals such as gold, silver, iron, and copper.
The animal species present in the Atacama Desert are very rare, they are protected by various organizations. Among these animals, you may observe pink flamingos or other resistant birds. Some rare mice and lizards survive the extreme conditions. The plant species are rare, there are mostly cactuses.
When you go to the Atacama Desert, you will surely be told the story of the Atacameños, this community that lived in the middle of the desert at another time. To learn more about this disappeared Atacama culture, go to the side of San Pedro de Atacama where a museum is entirely dedicated to it, it is a small village located in the heart of the desert.
An excursion to the Licancabur volcano will allow you to take height and admire the Atacama Salar from a new angle. The Salar of Atacama offers a unique experience to live in the middle of the salt desert! The Valley of the Moon and its lunar landscape is a desert place and cut off from any civilization, you will be totally disoriented in this part of the desert. The Laguna Miscanti overhung by the Miñiques volcano is also to be seen! It is a totally lost place, where time seems to have suspended its flight... The contrasts of colors between the azure blue of the lake and the ocher tones of the sand are spectacular!
Beautiful hikes to be closer to nature and the elements, nice excursions to discover the wealth of the Atacama Desert and its diverse landscapes. Let yourself be guided towards new emotions that you will not experience elsewhere.
To visit all the extent of the landscapes which are offered to you, it is imperative to take your time, the zone is very large thus 4 to 5 days will be perfect for your visit.
There are several hotels available in the desert, so don't worry if you want to continue your visit over several days. Also, there are many places to camp, it is the ideal immersion to fully enjoy the place.
Each natural area has a price, you should expect between 2000 and 15000 Pesos per area. Whether you are on a tour or on your own, you will have to pay for them, so plan accordingly.
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