San Pedro de Atacama Travel Guide
One of the most magic and diverse place that I visited in Chile is Atacama Desert. My travel guide to San Pedro de Atacama will help you to prepare better for your trip.
San Petro de Atacama is located about 1600km away of the Capital city Santiago. This town is an entrance to the biggest and the driest place on the Earth.
Large part of the Atacama Desert corresponds to Atacama Salar. During the past decades, San Pedro de Atacama became one of the most visited place in Chile and principle spot for international tourists.
How to get to San Pedro de Atacama
There are a lot of different ways to get to San Pedro.
If you are travelling from Santiago de Chile, you can take a plane to Calama, El Loa Airport.
Travelling by Bus to San Pedro de Atacama?
Both of them have buses available to San Pedro de Atacama. Remmember that it takes up to 24 hours and the price is almost the same as the air ticket.
Once you arrive to Calama, you can take transfer from the Airport to San Pedro de Atacama, the trip takes around 2 hours.
The journey goes on the desert and costs around 7.000CLP (10USD) one way. These private buses arranged on the airport will drop you in your accommodation address.
How to organize your time in San Pedro de Atacama?
There are a lot of Agencies that offer tours around the Regions. San Pedro de Atacama is a small town but offers a lot for its visitors.
Starting from organized tours to El Tatio Geysers, Valle de La Luna, National Reserve of Flamencos, Salar de Atacama, Lagunas Antiplanicas, Salar de Tara, Valle de la Muerte, Floating Lake, Hot Springs or event Horse riding, (see below the most visited spots).
Everything depends on your interests and budget.
Interesting places to visit in San Pedro de Atacama
El Tatio Geysers
Geysers are located in the Andes mountains range and are a geothermal field. These are considered as the highest in the world (4,200 mts of height) and are located approx. 90 kilometres of San Pedro de Atacama town.
All of the tours to the Geysers start very early in the morning (5-7AM) as this is the hour where the geysers presents an unforgettable steam fumaroles activity produced by the high temperatures of its watery craters. It is surrounded by mountains that reach 5900 meters of height.
What to take for your trip to Geysers El Tatio?
Don´t forget to take water, sun protector, sun glasses, swimming costume and towel as you will have a chance to swim in the El Tatio thermal pool, (see below). After the geysers visit, the tour includes breakfast.
Open air thermal swimming pool in El Tatio Geysers
After El Tatio Geysers visit, the guide will drive you to the amazing thermal pool where you can enjoy delightful warm water.
Valle de la Luna or Moon Valey
This is one of the most visited places in San Pedro de Atacam. Located only 17 kilometres from the town.
The Moon Valley has dry lakes, where the salt composition covers with a beautiful white mantle and escarpments of all colours as green, blue, red, yellow and forms surprising forms.
The sun makes vary its tones in thousand different forms during the day, specially in the corpuscular hours that reaches its best beauty.
The Atacama salt has an extension of 100 kilometers length by 80 of wide.
The salt is produced by the groundwater outcrop that saturates of salts and evaporates.
This activity leaves scabs rich in salt and minerals. This Salar is real natural wonder of Atacama desert which is visited by thousand of tourists every year.
The air is extraordinarily dry at the Salar, which gives it a perfect transparency.
You can see the other extreme of the Atacama Salar which reaches 70 kilometres. Under the salt there is a lake, hidden by a thick and rough scab of “tiznada” salt with the dust of the desert.
It contains one of the greater lithium reserves in the world, a mineral used in some high technology industries and that operated in the South sector of the Salar.
Caves of Salt (Cavernas de Sal)
This visit is included in Vale de la Luna tour.
In the midst of the spectacular Valley of the Moon (Valle de la Luna), and along with other natural sculptures, there are the Salt Caves.
The formations are characterized by containing pieces of gem salt.
These crystals were formed through the centuries by the action of the high pressures and can be in an environment without humidity.
On this tour, you can enter and explore the caves, always following the guide.
The Church of San Pedro de Atacama
It is a Catholic church that was Constructed during the Spanish colonial period. The church is reportedly the second oldest church in Chile.
The lake contains high level of salinity and it causes possibility to float.
The salt lake is located near by San Pedro close to the beautiful mountains.
Apparently the lake is really deep (almost 40m) and it consists of 75% salt, so you won´t be able to swim but rather float like in the Dead Sea.
The Machuca Church close by San Pedro (Inglesia Pueblo de Machuca)
The town Machuca is one of the most remote places in Chile with only 20 small houses and a church.
Visiting this place definitely takes you back in time. The village is situated 4.000 metres above sea level in the middle of hills with amazing Chilean landscapes.
The main activity of locals in Machuca is taking care of llamas.
Apparently in the past years, the tourism has grown significantly in the North of Chile. Thanks to that the locals are beginning to participate in the tourist activity with their local handicrafts.
In addition, while visiting this place you can try some local goodies like: meat cuisine, empanadas and sopaipillas valued for their large size.
San Pedro, great spot to practise adventures sports
On the desert you can do hiking, horseback riding, volcano climbing or even sandboarding.
Here in San Pedro de Atacama, there are also agencies that rent mountain bicycles. Rent a bike and enjoy one of the trips in the Lakes District at the same time enjoy the World´s driest and unique desert.
I hope my Travel Guide to San Pedro de Atacama will help you to prepare better for your trip. All the advices are based on my personal experience of travelling to San Pedro.
Have you been to San Pedro de Atacama? What are your recommendations? Leave a comment below.
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