Last updated on December 31st, 2018 at 12:01 pm
Atacama Desert Tours
Are you curious about what it would be like to visit the driest desert in the world? Read Travel Consultant, Jason Mayo’s, recount on his incredible adventure in the Atacama Desert. Learn about the unique salt flats, colorful lagoons, sparkling stars and fascinating wildlife that he was able to see while exploring San Pedro de Atacama.
Getting to San Pedro de Atacama
One way to reach San Pedro de Atacama is to cross the border from Bolivia to Chile. Descended from the high elevation in Uyuni 3,656 meters (11,995 ft) to the open view of the Chilean desert at 2,407 meters (7,896 ft) and take in the spectacular landscapes. San Pedro de Atacama is extremely close to the Bolivian border, so if you time it properly, you can go on a full morning tour and be back at your hotel by 2 pm!
If you are traveling from Santiago de Chile, you can take a flight from the Capital to Calama and take a private transfer or bus to San Pedro de Atacama 98 kilometers (60 mi).
On the first night, we stayed at Hotel Altiplanico, a modern hotel with decor that perfectly fits the desert theme. Our room was comfortable and packed with amenities such as Wi-Fi, a private terrace, an outdoor shower, central heating and air conditioning. The staff was extremely helpful in providing recommendations for daily activities. They had some great tips on restaurants. One of their suggestions was to try Baltinache, a local restaurant offering indigenous foods, which ended up being one of our favorite restaurants in San Pedro de Atacama!
Read more >> Uyuni and Atacama Desert Tour – Magic Triangle of the Andes
Stargazing in the Atacama Desert
Nowhere on Earth offers better stargazing than Chile’s Atacama Desert. People from around the globe travel to San Pedro de Atacama to stargaze under some of the clearest night skies.
Once nightfall hit, we started our stargazing tour. We didn’t know what to expect because we hadn’t been on an excursion tailored towards stargazing, but we were blown away. Our experienced guide, Rodrigo, gave an incredible presentation on the cosmos that left us in awe. Later, we were able to pinpoint constellations and various stars with the help of Rodrigo’s high-tech telescope. It was unbelievable how bright the stars shine. This tour was a truly memorable night and an amazing way to start our journey in Atacama.
Read more >> Atacama Desert Tours
The Atacama Salt Flats & Lagoons Tour
On our second day, we went on a tour to see the Atacama salt flats and lagoons. We were apprehensive at first, thinking that the Atacama salt flats would closely resemble the Uyuni salt flats. To our surprise, the Atacama salt flats were very unique! Instead of the salt flats in Uyuni, where the surface is flat with an octagon pattern, the Atacama salt flats are rocky and uneven. We were thrilled to experience something entirely new.
Though the Atacama salt flats and lagoons were an excellent part of our day, our favorite part was taking action shots of flamingoes flying overhead! It’s not every day you get to see flamingos in their natural habitat, and these beauties made for some unusual photo opportunities. After our wildlife photo shoot, we made a stop at the colored lagoons. These were similar to the lagoons in Uyuni and equally as beautiful. Our guide was able to keep our tour group’s energy up with his extensive knowledge of the driest desert in the world. If you only have one day in the Atacama, I highly recommend this tour.
Read more >> Top 5 Atacama Desert Tours
The City of San Pedro de Atacama
After completing the tour, we were dropped off at Hotel Terrantai. While we enjoyed Hotel Altiplanico, we loved Hotel Terrantai. Hotel Terrantai was perfectly located in the center of town, without the loud hustle and bustle of a busy area. Inside the hotel, there were spacious common areas, an excellent restaurant, cozy yet comfortable rooms, and an inviting pool. Before having dinner, we took a stroll through the historic town. I cannot recommend enough how enjoyable it was to explore this small and charming town.
By the time our last day came around, we had wished we had more time in San Pedro. Hotel Terrantai was so comfortable, and San Pedro was such a beautiful destination, that we regretted only planning two nights there. For future travelers, myself included, I recommend staying three nights in San Pedro and visiting the Moon and Death Valley on your second full day. The Moon and Death Valley tour is a half-day tour and would give you the rest of the day to relax in San Pedro before heading to your next destination.
Read more >> Recommended hotels in San Pedro de Atacama
Though our stay in San Pedro might have been the end of our trip, it will not be our last time visiting this desert region of South America. Our experience in San Pedro de Atacama was so wonderful that we know one day we will be back.
Atacama Desert Tours
Are you ready to visit San Pedro de Atacama, Chile? If yes, contact any of our experienced travel consultants today! Seamlessly combine Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina into one fantastic multi-country tour on our Magic Triangle of the Andes tour. Or spend more of your time concentrated in one area that you have been longing to visit. No matter what you choose, SouthAmerica.travel is ready to help you customize your dream Chile vacation.