Travel Consultant, Christina Schranz, recently visited the Atacama Desert. Read on for her list of the Top 5 San Pedro de Atacama Tours.
SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA
San Pedro de Atacama lies in the world’s driest desert, in the Antofagasta Region of Chile, at an average altitude of 2,407 meters (7,900 feet). Situated at the base of the mountains, is a quaint little town, the streets are lined with adobe houses and tourists.
The stunning landscapes around San Pedro de Atacama have it all: geysers, volcanoes, bizarre land formations, sand dunes and jagged canyons. In addition to being a great town to visit on its own, it is also easily combined with other destinations in Chile, Argentina or Bolivia.
Below you will find our Top 5 San Pedro de Atacama Tours. The first tour listed is my personal favorite- the stargazing tour!
#1. Stargazing San Pedro de Atacama Tour
If you’ve never seen a shooting star, you are in the right place to see one. The Atacama Desert is one of the best places to go stargazing due to its geographical properties. On this tour, you will be amazed by the vast sky filled with stars. Your travel guide will teach you how to read a sky map, so you’re able to spot the main constellations. And when the moon is visible, snap some images of it through a telescope.
#2. Atacama Salt Flats & Altiplanic Lagoons Tour
During this tour, you will visit the Atacama Salt Flat in the Los Flamencos National Reserve. It is an area of diverse geography, flora, fauna, and hydrography. You will not only get to see the white surface of the salt flat, but also the reserve’s various lagoons. Here, flamingos and other wildlife can often be spotted. On this tour, you will also cross the Tropic of Capricorn and visit Socaire, a little village located at 3,500 meters (11,482 feet) above sea level that boasts a volcanic stone church.
Continue to the beautiful blue lagoons of Miscanti and Minique. These lagoons are fed from the waters of the surrounding volcanoes. You might get lucky and spot some of the animals that call this area home, such as the condors and vicunas. After leaving the reserve, you will head to the village of Toconao, where you can make a quick stop at the church or look around for a handicraft market. Please note that this tour is not recommended for pregnant women, children younger than five years old or people with heart problems.
#3. Moon Valley Tour – San Pedro de Atacama Tours
As the long day is starting to wind down, you might be looking for a place to watch the sunset. Lucky for you, one of the most scenic places to view the sunset is at “Cordillera de la Sal.” Because of its valley’s it is called Valle de Marte (Mars Valley) and Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley). Both have saline and clay shapes, produced by mineralogical folds from hundreds of millions of years ago. Originally they were little mountains with strange and capricious shapes. By nightfall, the sunset turns them into a moon-like landscape.
#4. Tatio Geysers – San Pedro de Atacama Tours
Set your alarm for an early wake-up, to visit the famous Tatio Geysers as most tours depart before dawn. El Tatio is home to a geyser field located at an altitude of 4,300 m (14,105 ft) above sea level in the Andes Mountains. There you will be able to see rising steam clouds that reach up to 50 mt (165 ft) in height. While you take it all in, with the combined features of the Andes Mountains, you can also grab a bite to eat at the geysers. The return trip passes through a landscape of mountains and volcanoes above 5,500 meters (18,050 ft) with stunning views!
#5. Puritama Hot Springs – San Pedro de Atacama Tours
Last, but not least on our list of San Pedro de Atacama Tours are the Puritama Hot Springs. The Baths of Puritama, (indigenous word for hot water), are about 20 miles north of town, nestled in the heart of the Atacama Desert. Although these hot springs were discovered centuries ago by locals, they only recently opened to the general public.
The waters flow up from the ground at temperatures close to 33° C (91.4°F). The hot springs provide a revitalizing experience to relieve stress and fatigue.
Puritama is the ideal spot for travelers that want to take in the fantastic landscape but enjoy modern and comfortable facilities. The thermal center features outdoor pools, a waterfall, sauna rooms, changing rooms, and baths that connect to the pools by wooden footbridges.
How long should I stay in San Pedro de Atacama?
We recommend a minimum stay of 3 nights for first-time visitors to San Pedro de Atacama. That way you have enough time to see the highlights of the region. The closest commercial airport is in Calama, about 100 km (63 miles) from San Pedro.
If you are thinking of planning an in-depth trip to Chile? Combine San Pedro de Atacama with a visit to Santiago, the Lake District, Patagonia and Easter Island. Then head over to Argentina, and take a bus across the Andes to Salta, a hidden gem of Argentina. Finish by traveling further north into Bolivia to Uyuni.