HomeTravel 6 Day San Pedro de Atacama Itinerary With A Car Rental

[2023] 6 Day San Pedro de Atacama Itinerary With A Car Rental

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The excessive desert in northern Chile is without doubt one of the most unusual locations on this planet. On the heart of it’s the dusty city of San Pedro de Atacama that springs up like a literal oasis. From the clearest Milky Manner, beguiling pastel mountains, vicuña roaming the plains, and effervescent geothermal exercise, this can be a traveller’s dream.

For people who wish to journey extra independently, planning a 6 day San Pedro de Atacama itinerary with a automotive rental is completely potential however could be a little difficult. Because of this we cowl in appreciable element learn how to get tickets, the driving circumstances, untold secrets and techniques, and extra to ensure your trip goes off with no hitch.

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6 Day Atacama Itinerary

6 day atacama itinerary with a car rental

The Atacama Desert has one of the distinctive desert landscapes the place you may discover small oasis cities, ethereal moonscapes, jutting volcanoes, pristine salt lakes, rejuvenating sizzling springs, and the clearest sky, there are such a lot of explanation why this can be a must-visit a part of Chile.

This desert plateau is the driest nonpolar desert in the world and there is a motive why it has been used as a simulation for Mars. There’s additionally a motive why the biggest astronomical undertaking, ALMA Observatory, is situated right here. It’s actually a window to a different world and galaxy from right here.

Background Of This Itinerary

Context issues and so to tee up this itinerary, let’s shortly chat about how this journey slot in our bigger month in Chile (full itinerary coming quickly).

The Atacama Desert was the second leg of the journey and adopted instantly after a bodily demanding Torres del Paine Nationwide Park. In consequence, we wished this to be slower-paced. Usually, of us attempt to do that in 3-4 days however each itinerary we reviewed regarded means too jam-packed.

For higher or worse, we determined to hire a automotive as a result of we wished the liberty and adaptability to discover which we did not fairly have in Patagonia since that comprised of tour packages.

Since we might be doing it on our personal, we did not e-book any excursions prematurely. The method was to have a unfastened thought of the itinerary and determine the remainder out on the bottom. We might be taught later that this introduced a ton of challenges.

How To Use This Itinerary

Whenever you examine to our 10 day Patagonia itinerary, 6 day Smoky Mountains itinerary, 3 day Cairo itinerary, or 2 week Tahiti itinerary, this one is sort of related. The core precept is that it is meant to cowl the small print that we really feel different books and web sites miss.

With this Atacama desert itinerary centered on people who wish to discover it independently with none booked excursions, we’re additionally placing a big emphasis on how journey planning works with your personal automotive and offering up to date particulars for a way Atacama’s particular person sights now work post-pandemic.

The itinerary will first undergo every day, overlaying what you may anticipate, highlighting key particulars for sights, summarizing the day, and offering hyperlinks in case you wish to be taught extra.

After the breakdown by day, we’ll additionally present concepts for options that you might swap in, an thought of value, and the kind of traveller this itinerary is for.

Since we perceive in journey planning that it is onerous to see the place issues are in relation to one another, there’s additionally a customized Google Map which you’ll create a replica of.

Lastly, we even have a Google Sheet of the itinerary which you could obtain in the event you signal as much as be an Insider.

Like with any itinerary, that is meant to offer inspiration and one model of how one can plan a visit to San Pedro de Atacama. Be happy to take the items that you just’re desirous about and juggle issues round.

What You Want To Know Earlier than Planning Your Journey

As a substitute of cramming each final element into this San Pedro de Atacama itinerary, we have damaged out the foundational information into a number of different articles that we extremely encourage you to learn as a companion to this one.

By the Atacama Desert travel guide and Atacama Packing Checklist (coming quickly), you can get reply the questions reminiscent of:

  • The place is the Atacama Desert?
  • What are the brand new modifications in Atacama post-pandemic?
  • What number of days do you want?
  • The way to get to San Pedro de Atacama?
  • How a lot does it value?
  • Is it protected?
  • The place do you have to eat?

Why Atacama With A Automobile Rental?

picking up car rental at calama airport for san pedro de atacama itinerary

With loads of expertise touring around the globe, this appeared like a no brainer choice. With tons of open roads, Atacama on paper seems to be straightforward to drive however the actuality is a bit totally different.

The largest situation with driving by yourself is the situation of the roads. When you get off the paved freeway, you are coping with gravel roads that begin off properly flattened however can degrade to uneven nightmares consisting of potholes and head-shaking rumble strips.

On the flip facet, many individuals will inform you that it is harmful to drive in Atacama, you understand which have a vested curiosity in promoting excursions. The reality is that it is completely do-able, albeit, requiring cautious driving, with confidence, some expertise, and paying for insurance coverage in case.

Let’s cowl causes for and towards having a automotive rental.

driving nissan kicks rental car in atacama desert chile

Causes for a automotive rental

  • The closest airport is Calama (CJC) which is near 1.5 hours away from San Pedro de Atacama. This implies there’s both a shared or private transfer required that begins at $27 USD per individual.
  • The price of a automotive rental for 7 days is sort of affordable at $377 USD with Europcar.
  • Conventional excursions are all fairly cookie-cutter and could be at a sooner tempo than you want. Because you’re anticipated to observe your group, it would not offer you an excessive amount of time to discover and take your time.
  • In the event you’re a photographer and wish to go to viewpoints at particular instances of the day/night time or want massive quantities of time with say, the flamingos, it’s good to have your personal automobile.
  • When you can e-book some excursions on-line, it is really advantageous to e-book the excursions after you arrive since many corporations jockey for what you are promoting by providing reductions. In the event you go this route, this implies spending time figuring this out in your first day versus hitting the bottom working.

The challenges of driving in Atacama

  • The principle highways are properly paved however when you’re in San Pedro de Atacama itself or go outdoors, it is all gravel and uneven roads. The highway to Geyser del Tatio and Lagunas Baltinache are particularly nightmarish.
  • There’s the sensation that the sights in Atacama aren’t significantly pleasant for unbiased vacationers. This primarily comes from the dearth of up to date data on-line which may make it fairly irritating to plan a visit. It additionally looks like locals did not know the newest particulars post-COVID.
  • Google Maps could be deceiving and can lead you astray if you do not know the precise location to kind in. As an illustration, in the event you punch in instructions for “Laguna Chaxa”, you may be following instructions to the incorrect place.

Regardless of the challenges, exploring the desert with your personal rental automotive is sort of the enjoyable journey and permits you to spend as little or as a lot time you need at every vacation spot.

For the very best charges, Europcar was extremely low cost. Additionally they have Avis, Budget, Econorent, MITTA, FIRST, and Salfa on the Calama airport. To check all of them, attempt utilizing RentalCars.

Fortunately, with this 6 day Atacama itinerary, we’ll be guiding you round frequent errors and making driving-specific suggestions.

Day 1: Seeing The Clearest Night time Sky

atacama desert stargazing excursion with jorge

With no direct flights to the Atacama Desert, the best method to get there may be by way of the biggest city within the area, Calama and the El Loa Airport (CJC). There are a number of flights a day from Santiago (SLC) so you possibly can resolve how early or late you wish to go.

TIP: If Atacama is your first vacation spot in Chile and you’ve got a brief layover in Santiago, have a look at buying a pay as you go Entel SIM so you possibly can have this sorted and activated. You are able to do this in San Pedro de Atacama however you may should spend time to seek out it.

When you touchdown in Calama, you may head to the automotive rental counter in the primary corridor of the airport that is outdoors of safety. There are a number of cubicles right here together with Europcar and since they’re undermanned, there may not be somebody there. Search for a cellphone quantity and name it to allow them to know you are ready.

The vehicles are proper within the car parking zone in entrance of the airport and from there you may take the primary freeway that connects to San Pedro de Atacama. It is a 1 hour and 17 minute drive on a newly paved highway.

On this drive, you may be steadily climbing in elevation, peaking at 3424 meters (11,234 ft). Because of this you would possibly begin feeling the altitude en-route. For reference, Calama is 2,260meters (7415 ft) San Pedro de Atacama is 3,159 meters (10,364 ft).

Settle into your lodge and get organized to your night stargazing exercise. It is going to get fairly chilly at night time so put together your layers, gloves, and toque/beanie. The property we stayed at and would extremely advocate is Hoteles Pueblo de Tierra.

Have dinner at Sol Inti on the town earlier than getting again to your lodge to await your decide up.

PARKING TIP: In the event you’re searching for parking on the town, know that Caracoles is a pedestrian avenue. The very best parking spots are marked on our map with the primary possibility being the very best avenue parking within the coronary heart of city.

In your first night time in Atacama, we extremely advocate that you just e-book a night with Jorge of Atacama Desert Stargazing. This tour splits your time between a category that’ll undergo the historical past of astronomy with stargazing utilizing a number of excessive magnification telescopes. Even when stargazing is not your factor, you are going to be blown away.

astronomy class with atacama desert stargazing

Atacama is without doubt one of the finest locations for stargazing due to its altitude, lack of humidity, and clear skies. All through the tour, you may see quite a few celestial our bodies up-close with essentially the most spectacular being the Tarantula Nebula, NGC-253, NGC-104, Jupiter and its moons, and Saturn with its rings.


Tackle: Jorge gives decide up at your lodge and can drive you to his home simply outdoors of city.

Hours: This modifications relying on the time of 12 months. For our tour in September, our decide up was at 8:40PM.

Web site: Atacama Desert Stargazing

Worth: Conventional Astronomical Tour (TAT) is $100 USD, SAT 1 Particular Astronomical Tour is $130 USD, and the SAT 2 Particular Astronomical Tour is $180 USD per individual.

What you may like about this exercise:

  • The primary half of the tour is an astronomy class which is extremely helpful to have some background information of its historical past, technical phrases, how the tools works, and specifics concerning the stars of the southern hemisphere.
  • It is spectacular the variety of telescopes he has within the yard the place he conducts the stargazing. Even with a most dimension of 14, you’d solely have 2-3 folks per telescope.
  • You will be amazed by what number of star clusters, nebulas, galaxies, planets, and constellations he is aware of off the highest of his head and the way shortly he can find them.
  • The largest flex is that he has a robust sufficient telescope the place you can see the rings of Saturn and the spots of Jupiter upclose.
  • There isn’t a minimal for the tour so in the event you’re the one one which books it, you may find yourself with a personal tour.
  • The meals provided on the tour is sort of substantial and greater than only a snack. It was virtually like a full meal with small sandwiches, crepes, chips, cookies, guacamole, sizzling soup, and sizzling drinks. They’ve alcohol as nicely.


  • There are fairly a lot of astronomy excursions in San Pedro de Atacama however in the event you’re searching for somebody that’s actually obsessed with stargazing and has the information and tools to again it up, that is the tour to e-book.
  • The time period “Atacama Desert Stargazing” is sort of generic which makes them onerous to seek out. There are additionally many different merchandise with related names so do not confuse them with Jorge’s.
  • The tour names could be complicated between TAT, SAT 1, SAT 2, and others. The principle distinction between them is the stargazing time and the way in-depth Jorge is ready to get in his astronomy class. In consequence, TAT is nice for newcomers, SAT 1 for people who wish to go a bit extra in-depth, and SAT 2 for superior watchers.
  • It doesn’t matter what time of the 12 months, it will get fairly chilly at night time so remember to put on a jacket, gloves, and toque/beanie. They’ve a transportable heater and blanket but it surely’s finest to have your personal layers.
  • This isn’t an astrophotography tour. Whereas there may be a while devoted to it and Jorge can present some steerage, that is undoubtedly not his experience.
  • The excursions don’t run 3 nights earlier than and after the complete moon. In consequence, it could be price it to consider which dates you’ll be within the Atacama Desert.
  • March to September (Chile’s winter) is finest time for stargazing right here.
  • The time for the tour is an approximation. Utilizing ours for example, TAT 1 is just alleged to be 2.5-3 hours however we spent shut to five hours with Jorge. He’s fairly beneficiant together with his time.
  • No deposit is required upfront. You pay on the finish of the tour and he accepts bank cards. Fee could be both in CLP or USD.
  • For the photographers that wish to do astrophotography, ensure that to pack every little thing you want and have the settings ready forward of time. This a part of the tour is sort of quick.
  • A headlamp is useful however not needed. Use one which preferably has a red light so it would not disrupt your eyes which have adjusted to the night time sky.
  • Keep away from reserving afternoon excursions on the day of (in case they run late) and early morning excursions the following day (this tour runs fairly late into the night).
  • Attempt to e-book this tour on the primary night time of your journey as a result of if it is cloudy, you possibly can reschedule it for a distinct day.

As a reminder to your Day 4 and 6 actions, ensure you e-book your Valle De La Luna tickets and Puritama on-line forward of time if you have not performed so already.

Day 1 Abstract

What you may do:

The place you may eat:

  • DinnerSol Inti – Conventional Chilean restaurant in San Pedro de Atacama with beneficiant parts and is well-priced.

The place you may keep:


  • SIM Card: If Atacama is your first vacation spot in Chile and you’ve got a brief layover in Santiago, have a look at buying a pay as you go Entel SIM so you possibly can have this sorted and activated. You are able to do this in San Pedro de Atacama however you may should spend time to seek out it. We advocate Entel as a result of they’ve the very best reception in Atacama.
  • Money: It is a good suggestion to have a mixture of US {Dollars} and Chilean Pesos in Atacama. Resorts booked via Reserving.com should be paid in USD to keep away from the 19% tax. Excursions will settle for each however usually quote in USD. Entrance charges are usually in CLP and a few areas do not settle for bank card. Tipping can also be best with money.
  • Refill nightly: There are not any fuel stations outdoors of San Pedro de Atacama. A wise behavior to get into is to refill the tank of your automotive rental nightly or each morning earlier than heading out.

Searching for the complete Atacama itinerary?

Merely subscribe to be an Insider and get entry to the 6 day Atacama itinerary in an easy-to-use and copy-able Google Spreadsheet will probably be given to you straight away on this field. Submit your e-mail and the obtain hyperlink will seem proper within the kind. You will even be enrolled within the weekly flight deal publication!

Day 2: Good Flamingos

flamboyance of flamingos at laguna chaxa

Begin your morning with the included breakfast at Hoteles Pueblo de Tierra.

Since we do not advocate ingesting faucet water in San Pedro de Atacama on account of its excessive mineral content material, you may wish to ensure you have sufficient water. One of many most cost-effective locations to choose up water is on the native Supermercado Ketal. A 6L jug is $1,950 CLP. Replenish the rest you would possibly want together with snacks for the automotive.

Refill your automotive on the COPEC fuel station earlier than heading out.

The principle spotlight of the day is Laguna Chaxa which is finest recognized for its massive inhabitants of flamingos that reside right here.

Belonging to the bigger Atacama Salt Flats, this space is definitely a despair within the land between the Andes and Domeyko mountain ranges the place over the numerous years, minerals washing down from the mountains settled right here to create a large salt deposit.

Superficial lagoons have fashioned right here the place brine shrimp have thrived in waters with excessive mineral concentrations with excessive temperatures and low oxygen. That is similar to the salt lake we have visited in our Northern California road trip which included a go to to Mono Lake.

The secret’s that birds together with flamingoes love feeding on the brine shrimp within the shallow puddles of water, which is why there are such massive colonies of them right here.

flamingos ready for takeoff at laguna chaxa in  the atacama desert

In your go to, you may begin off with an data session the place a information will undergo a number of of the informative boards, examples of brine shrimp, and likewise how flamingoes begin with white feathers and finally flip pink via their weight loss plan. This half is just in Spanish however is obligatory as a result of they should clarify the principles.

You will then stroll a one-way path that takes you alongside a journey alongside the dry salt flat, with varied stops alongside the best way that discuss brine shrimp, volcanoes and hills, and the salt lagoons. This path leads in the direction of an open space proper in entrance of the lagoon the place a lot of the flamingos are.

If you wish to head straight to the flamingoes, there’s additionally a 2-way path that goes from the customer heart to the lagoon.


ticket booth at laguna chaxa
Ticket sales space on the entrance
purchasing tickets at laguna chaxas
Submitting out private data within the container
laguna chaxas ticket
Ticket for Laguna Chaxa
mandatory laguna chaxa orientation session
Obligatory orientation session

Tackle: On Google Maps, search “Laguna Chaxa Park” and never “Laguna Chaxa”. As you are driving, ensure that to be looking out for these indicators as aids. The brown indicators are those on the primary freeway which sadly do not stand out very nicely.

Altitude: 2,300 meters (7,546 ft)

Size: 400 meter (1/4mi) path that ought to take roughly 45 minutes. In the event you’re doing images right here, anticipate to spend 2 hours right here.

Hours: This modifications relying on the time of 12 months. When right here in September, this park is open Monday to Sunday from 7AM – 5:30PM. At present, according to CONAF, the hours are 8AM – 1PM and 2PM to 6PM with final admission at 5PM.

Web site: Community of Toconao and CONAF

Electronic mail: [email protected]

Worth: For foreigners, the costs are $8,000 CLP for adults and $4,000 CLP for youngsters 17 and beneath, and seniors >60.

The way to pay:

  • On the gate – The standard method to pay is to enter the container constructing by the gate. They may take your names, age, nation, and cellphone quantity. After you park, you then hand the paperwork to the ticket sales space to grant you entry into the park. It doesn’t appear like they take bank card.
  • On-line – A brand new characteristic is the flexibility to pay for tickets online. There aren’t any additional processing charges however you do have to choose a particular time and date to go to. The benefit although is which you could pay by bank card.

Services: On the customer heart space, you may discover bogs and a terrace with picnic benches. There aren’t any services when you head out on the strolling path.


  • Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos (Los Flamencos Nationwide Reserve) comes up in lots of guides but it surely’s by no means clear the place it’s. This is not a particular place you go to however a gaggle of areas designated as a reserve that features Laguna Chaxa, Lagunas Miscanti y Miniques, Valle de la Luna, and Aldea de Tulor. These are unfold all around the neighborhood of San Pedro de Atacama and isn’t one contiguous park. Because of this we do not actually point out Los Flamencos as a result of it provides to the confusion.
  • Toconao is at 2,485 meters (8,153 ft) so altitude shouldn’t be a problem right here.
  • There isn’t a cowl right here so ensure that to have a great hat, sun shades, sunscreen, and loads of water.
  • We nonetheless advocate that you just pay on the entrance as an alternative of on-line simply so you do not have to lock in on a particular time slot.
  • It is a unbelievable location for photographing flamingos. Nonetheless, because of the hours of the park, you doubtless will not be capable to seize them at dawn or sundown.

On the best way again, you possibly can go to the city of Toconao. Whereas there is not an incredible quantity to see, it is nonetheless price a fast pitstop to their quaint city sq.. Their most important attraction is the bell tower that was inbuilt 1750 fabricated from three stacked sections of volcanic stone and confronted with white stucco.

dinner at adobe in san pedro de atacama

You will little doubt be hungry so head again into city to have an early dinner at Adobe. Situated on the primary pedestrian avenue of Caracoles, they’re fairly low key within the late afternoon however flip into fairly the vigorous restaurant with their fireplace pit and reside music at night time. It is an incredible ambiance with scrumptious mixture of conventional and Italian dishes beneath an open-air courtyard.

For sundown, you are going to wish to head to the most well-liked spot on the town known as Mirador Lickan-Antai. Whenever you arrive, you may discover that there is not a correct car parking zone because it’s actually off the facet of the freeway.

mirador lickan antai sunset viewpoint

As soon as parked, you may cross the rocks to finally get to an edge that has an elevated perched view of Valle de la Luna. The best way the golden solar casts shadow on the dragon-like backbone of the rock formations and deserts beneath are actually mesmerizing.

sunset view at mirador lickan-antai just outside of san pedro de atacama

There will be fairly a number of folks right here so plan on arriving 30-40 minutes forward of sundown.

Earlier than you head dwelling, bear in mind to refill your tank so you may be able to go tomorrow.

Day 2 Abstract

Driving time: The drive from San Pedro de Atacama to Laguna Chaxa Park is 1 hour.

What you may see:

  • Laguna Chaxa
  • Toconao
  • Mirador Lickan-Antai

The place you may eat:

  • Breakfast – Hoteles Pueblo de Tierra (eat a big late breakfast)
  • Lunch – Snacks within the automotive
  • DinnerAdobe – One of many extra fashionable eating places in essentially the most central a part of city with top quality meals and vigorous ambiance.

The place you may keep:


  • Watch out with Google Maps – It’s important to ensure you punch in the proper location in Google Maps earlier than getting down to Laguna Chaxa.
  • Mobile sign – You probably have an Entel SIM, you may have sign about midway to Laguna Chaxa however afterwards it cuts out. In the event you purchased tickets on-line, ensure you have it printed or take screenshots in your cellphone.
  • Do not underestimate the solar and warmth – We extremely advocate that you just put on a skinny and breathable long-sleeve shirt just like the Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie.
  • Results of altitude – When you will not be doing something at very excessive altitude, you should still really feel one thing particularly in a single day. As an illustration, I had fairly vivid nightmares for the primary 4 nights though the tingly fingers that I had in Cusco throughout our 2 weeks in Peru by no means materialized. Be ready for it and keep very nicely hydrated.

Day 3: Well-known Altiplanic Lakes

piedra rojas altiplanic lakes in atacama desert

In your third day, you may climbing up in altitude to go to magical lagoons of the mountains.

After a hearty breakfast on the lodge, you may be hitting the highway once more. We advocate that you just begin early to offer your self time to discover and take images as a result of there is a 4.5 hours of driving simply to get there and again.

Immediately, you may be going the identical path as the day gone by however you may hold going and you will be climbing in altitude. What’s considerably totally different although is how scenic this drive is. As a substitute of flat desert plains with formations within the distance, you may begin seeing extra vegetation, wildlife, windy roads, and volcanic mountains.

Your most important mission is to see the Altiplanic Lakes which embody the Miscanti and Miñiques lagoons that are side-by-side and likewise Piedras Rojas which is on the fringe of Aguas Calientes Sur salt flats. Altiplanic comes from the Spanish phrase altiplano which suggests “excessive plains” and refers to a plateau that’s predominantly in Bolivia but in addition cuts into Peru and Chile. It is price noting that each one of those locations are a part of the Los Flamencos Pure Reserve.

herd of vicuna on the side of the road with volcano behind

Benefit from the drive and do not be afraid to securely cease on the facet of the highway for images. Additionally, be looking out for vicuña, a fair cuter cousin to the alpaca. With their lengthy lashes, fluffy wool, and smaller dimension, they’re actually the cutest of the llama household.

Your first cease is the city of Socaire and is an administrative one. Close to the doorway of city is a brown container constructing which they name Recepción de Turistas. That is the place you’ll present your on-line reservation, register your data, and decide up your official entry ticket. We advocate that you just purchase the ticket that begins at Piedras Rojas and ends with the Miscanti and Miñiques Lagoons.


socaire ticket office location for altiplantic lakes
Brown container workplace in Socaire on the proper
altiplanic lakes personal information form
Private data kind
combination ticket for altiplanic lakes picked up in socaire atacama desert

This half could be extraordinarily complicated so we’ll take care to elucidate all of it.

Tackle: On Google Maps, search “SOCAIRE CHILE“. It has a inexperienced tree pin. That is the brown container it’s good to go to so as to register and decide up your tickets.

Ticket sorts: The ticket that you really want is the ticket known as “Southern Sizzling Water Salt Flats + Miscanti and Miñiques Lagoons”. Because of this you may be doing Piedras Rojas first after which the dual lagoons. Additionally they provide “Miscanti and Miñiques Lagoons + Aguas Calientes South Salt Flats” which merely means the opposite means round. Sure, this implies the order issues. You can even buy tickets to the person sights in the event you solely wish to do one.

Time slots: Along with the order mattering, you may be compelled to choose a time slot to register. For the combo tickets, there’s 9AM, 11AM, 1PM and 3PM. You must check-in 1 hour earlier than the slot. This implies arriving at both 8AM, 10AM, 12PM, or 2PM. The 3PM slot isn’t obtainable on Thursdays.

Hours:  The hours for the dual lagoons and Piedras Rojas are 9AM to 6PM.

Web site: Community of Socaire and CONAF

Electronic mail: [email protected]

Worth: For foreigners, the costs for the combo of the 2 sights are $15,000 CLP for adults and $13,000 CLP for youngsters 5-17, and seniors 61+. Infants as much as 4 years previous are free.

The way to pay: You should buy the tickets on-line which permits cost by bank card. Word that there could also be a further price if paying by MasterCard (learn our Atacama travel guide for extra particulars). After receiving your reservation quantity, you additionally have to fill out a passenger kind which incorporates your passport quantity, e-mail, nationality, cellphone quantity, and lodging.

Guidelines: They require guests to register and decide up their tickets an hour earlier than their time slot and it’s important to go to the sights within the order that you just chosen. You additionally should not allowed to purchase tickets in individual nor do they settle for money. Lastly, the net passenger kind have to be stuffed out.

Registration steps: When you arrive on the container, there will be 1-2 workers inside that will help you.

  1. On a chunk of paper clipboard, you’ll fill out every individual’s identify, passport, age, e-mail, and nationality. This step could also be eliminated with the introduction of the net kind.
  2. You’ll obtain a small paper ticket together with your reservation quantity.

Our private expertise: We had no thought this was a factor and was completely caught off-guard after we have been able to pay for our entry to Piedras Rojas as a result of that is the way it labored at Laguna Chaxa. To our shock, they mentioned no and ended up getting one other vacationer to translate their Spanish. We have been informed to purchase the tickets on-line. After all, you possibly can’t purchase tickets for a similar day on-line so we had no selection however to attempt our luck on the workplace which is 1 hour backwards. With no mobile information, we could not discover what turned out to be a tiny brown container and needed to ask a neighborhood for assist. Fortunately, we have been allowed to purchase tickets for the day of and with money, all of which aren’t allowed in keeping with the web site. This entire ordeal ended up being a irritating 2 hour detour.

Services: There aren’t any services within the container or surrounding it. There’s a massive gravel car parking zone and that’s it.


  • It is truthfully onerous to inform how strict they are going to be with the principles that they’ve set forth since they bent it for us however to ensure you have no shock in your journey, it is best to observe them.
  • To keep away from this step fully, you possibly can e-book this tour with an organization as an alternative since they’re liable for buying the tickets and filling out the entire types.
  • There’s mobile sign within the city of Socaire however as soon as you permit, it shortly dies off.

Previous Socaire, the drive turns into much more spectacular as you climb in altitude and also you’re introduced with wondrous mixture of pastel-coloured lakes and contours of mountains that do not look actual.

roadside viewpoint of aguas calientes and piedras rojas
Roadside viewpoint

The primary most important sightseeing cease is a small viewpoint on the facet of the freeway which overlooks Piedras Rojas and Aguas Calientes.

When you get to viewpoint for Aguas Calientes, you are at greater than 4,000 meters (13,123 ft) above sea degree. That is when you’ll begin feeling the consequences of altitude illness. Whereas driving chances are you’ll really feel impulsively fairly sleepy. Any strolling you do will really feel unexpectedly harder, requiring you to take extra breaks and catch your breath. Take it sluggish and drink numerous water.

viewpoint of tuyajto lake in atacama

We advocate that you just drive previous Piedras Rojas and head out to the farthest level you wish to go first. Ultimately you may encounter a viewpoint for Tuyajto Lake. It is a stunning mild turquoise salt lake to admire.

You’ll be able to proceed driving previous the perspective however I would not go previous the small car parking zone that we have marked on the map. Because it’s fairly flat right here and you’ll’t get near the lake, the perspective is admittedly your finest spot. Driving any additional will simply take you to the border with Argentina.

view from mirador de aguascalientes

Working your means again, the following cease can also be off the facet of the highway and is well missed. It is marked as Mirador de Aguascalientes the place there is a path as much as a tremendous view of the complete salt lake from jap facet. It may be extremely windy up right here however definitely worth the quick stroll up right here because it’s doubtless you can see flamingoes and vicuña beneath.

piedras rojas unique landscape

You will lastly arrive at Piedras Rojas. In Spanish this implies “purple rocks” and this can be a breathtaking path loop that takes you all the best way out to distinctive copper-colored rocks fashioned from oxidation of iron.

It is fairly the sight to see these rounded and peculiar rocks are juxtaposed towards the sting of Aguas Calientes which seems to be like a sheet of ice coated by jagged crystals of ice however is the truth is salt.

You may be blown away by the extreme wind however you may be assured to be blown away by the impossibly pastel-rich hues of the rock, lake, and surrounding volcanic mountains.


Tackle: Google Maps factors to the purple rock formations itself which is subsequent to the lake however the customer heart is straight away off the freeway and never a particular pin. That mentioned, you might be superb to make use of “Piedras Rojas” for navigation as a result of it’s fairly shut. We have marked the customer heart precisely on our map.

Altitude: 4,000 meters (13,123 ft)

Hours: 9AM to 6PM

Length: Anticipate to spend 1 to 1.5 hours right here.

Services: There are 2 bogs on the customer heart constructing however neither with working water. Just one has a bathroom seat and the opposite doesn’t. One can also be accessible. There aren’t any services when you get on the strolling path.


  • On the ticket sales space, you may present them your ticket. They will write one thing on the again and hand it again to you. Be certain to maintain the ticket since you’ll use it once more at Lagunas Miscanti y Miñiques.
  • Earlier than you begin, somebody will come out to information you in what seems to be like a janitor’s closet to point out you a tiny mannequin of the world. The principle emphasis is that it is a loop path and it solely goes a method. There aren’t any plaques anyplace at this web site.
  • The a method path finally results in having the ability to stroll on the purple rocks themselves. This space is extra open and you’ll freely stroll round however watch out on the edges and you might be additionally not allowed to stroll onto the salty edges of the water. There’s a guard standing watch on this part.
  • This would possibly’ve simply been the particular day we have been there but it surely was insanely windy to the purpose that it was inducing complications and pushing us round so ensure you have the correct jacket, fleece, and headwear within the automotive in case.
  • Be certain to pack water since there is not a number of cowl from the solar and altitude illness will probably be in play.
  • It is a little bit of an extended path loop and with altitude, you may really feel fairly fatigued and out of breath so take a sluggish and regular.
  • One other identify for the lake is Salar de Aguas Calientes and Aguas Calientes Sur.
  • Keep in mind that in Socaire, you picked up tickets for particular instances the place it’s important to go to the workplace one hour earlier than. That mentioned, I can not see the Piedras Rojas workplace being significantly strict about once you arrive there as a result of it is an hour drive from Socaire and so they do not specify time slots at every location. There is no have to stress about timing after you have your ticket. Simply do it within the order wherein your ticket says as a result of they appear to care about this.
  • Be looking out for vicuña and flamingos right here.

The second a part of your ticket is a go to to the highland lagoons of Miscanti and Miñiques. These are two massive crystalline lagoons subsequent to one another and encompass a number of trails and viewpoints.

Every lagoon is extremely serene and calm with the mountains and sky reflecting off the water as birds together with flamingos basking and searching for meals.


entrance gate to laguns miscanti y miniques
map of lagunas miscanti y miniques including parking lots viewpoints bathrooms and walking trails

Tackle: Google Maps is correct for this attraction. Merely seek for “Lagunas Miscanti y Miñiques“. The signage for the flip off from the primary freeway can also be fairly clear.

Altitude: 4,200 meters (13,780 ft)

Hours: 9AM to 6PM

Length: Anticipate to spend 40 minutes to an 1 hour right here because it’s primarily fast picture stops at every viewpoint that may be reached by automotive. You’ll be able to undoubtedly do it sooner in the event you simply go to the primary viewpoint for every lake.

bathroom facilities at laguna miscanti

Services: There are rest room services at each Miscanti and Miñiques Lagoon. You’ll be able to drive proper as much as the lavatory at Laguna Miscanti and park there.


  • On the principles signal, it says no drones are allowed.
  • On the entrance, the gate will probably be down and the guard will increase it once you arrive. Hand the ticket over. Since that is the ultimate vacation spot, they are going to be holding it.
  • This similar guard will take you to the signage with the map and guidelines. They may clarify the place the bogs are, the parking areas, and that the “Sendero Koiche” path is closed.
  • The principle guidelines to concentrate to are that you’re not allowed within the water, you possibly can’t picnic right here, there isn’t any smoking, and you can not fly drones on this space.
  • On the subject of drones, whereas there aren’t no-drone indicators in all places, it is protected to imagine that you just aren’t enable to fly it in any of the most important sights.
  • At 4,200 meters (13,780 ft), the altitude results will probably be noticeable so take it sluggish and keep hydrated.
  • Just like Piedras Rojas, the wind could be fairly sturdy so be ready with the proper layers.
  • Whereas there’s a path you possibly can take for Laguna Miscanti, it didn’t appear price it. With parking heaps on each ends of the path, it’s a lot simpler to drive to every facet, snap images, and transfer on.
  • There’s solely the viewpoints from the car parking zone at Laguna Miñiques so it’s a comparatively fast cease. Word that the car parking zone isn’t marked on the map however you might be allowed to drive up there now.
  • There are some flamingoes right here however undoubtedly not within the quantity that you’re going to see at Laguna Chaxa.
tropic of capricorn roadside stop in 6 day atacama itinerary

As you drive again in the direction of San Pedro de Atacama, you may make a fast cease on the official Tropic of Capricorn line. There is a car parking zone right here and you’ll stroll as much as the triangulating poles that is a part of a a lot bigger Camino del Inca.

Again on the town, roam round city, dropping by the cubicles arrange round Plaza de San Pedro de Atacama and enormous memento markets reminiscent of Feria Artesanal San Pedro de Atacama.

Deal with your self to a hearty dinner at Pizzería El Charrúa. This joint is all the time filled with folks so we recommend coming right here earlier to seize a desk. which is all the time filled with folks.

Sleep early since you’ll be waking up at 4AM.

Day 3 Abstract

Driving time: The drive from San Pedro de Atacama to the furthest lake (Tuyajto Lake) is 2 hours and Quarter-hour.

What you may see:

  • Tuyajto Lake
  • Mirador de Aguascalientes
  • Piedras Rojas
  • Lagunas Miscanti y Miñiques
  • Tropic of Capricorn line
  • Plaza de San Pedro de Atacama
  • Feria Artesanal San Pedro de Atacama

The place you may eat:

  • Breakfast – Hoteles Pueblo de Tierra
  • Lunch – Snacks within the automotive or you possibly can attempt to catch Cocineria Santa Barbara in Socaire if it aligns together with your timing.
  • DinnerPizzería El Charrúa – In style pizza joint on the town that has now expanded to 2 areas proper throughout from one another. Their family-sized pizzas are excellent for 2.

The place you may keep:


  • Pin all areas – Earlier than you head out, ensure you’ve saved the pins of all of the areas for the day. As a again up, you may discover some sign in Socaire you probably have an Entel SIM.
  • It will get chilly and windy – You’d suppose the desert would simply be sizzling and sunny however the actuality is that it is really principally windy and chilly. Have your jacket, layers, hat, and gloves prepared. We’re not kidding after we say that the wind knocked us round. Bear in mind to take a look at our Atacama packing checklist (coming quickly).
  • Be ready for the altitude – Many of the day will probably be at 4,000 meters (13,123 ft) or above. This impacts everybody in another way. For my spouse, she bought extremely sleepy on the drive from Socaire and onwards. Any strolling we did felt like we had bricks on our legs and our lungs shrunk to half capability.

Day 4: From Geysers to the Moon

geyser del tatio at dawn with the most active great geyser

You will be combining two of the must-do’s of any itinerary to the Atacama Desert with bursts of water in purple mild with moonscapes glowing in fiery hues.

Set your alarm for 4AM and goal to get out of your lodge by 5AM.

Geyser del Tatio (El Tatio Geysers) is the biggest geyser discipline within the southern hemisphere and third largest on this planet. With 80 lively geysers, water temperatures at 85°C (185°F) will bubble as much as 75 centimeters (2.5 ft) and in the event you’re fortunate, they will shoot up 6 meters (20 ft).

The drive as much as Geyser del Tatio is simply over 1.5 hours but it surely’ll check your driving skills as it’s a windy highway at the hours of darkness the place most of it’s bumpy gravel that’ll require some talent and endurance. The tour vans will doubtless cross you however simply keep the course.

It is a magical place early within the morning as a result of that is when the geothermal exercise is the best. An ethereal steam blankets the ground whereas the geysers burst with water whereas additionally creating massive plumes of cloud.

Whenever you arrive on the most important gate, you may be offered some directions to park within the lot, head over to the customer heart constructing to fill out the passenger kind, pay the cashier, and get your ticket and map. That is additionally your likelihood to make use of the bogs.

furthest parking lot at geyser del tatio

Move via the second gate together with your ticket and drive all the best way to the farthest level the place there are geysers with essentially the most exercise. At this level, the dawn will probably be in its early levels.

Stroll out on the designated paths and look out for the geysers with bigger thermal exercise. It’s going to be fairly clear which one is the “Nice Geyser” as this can have the biggest radius. The geysers you will notice listed below are a mixture of vents on the bottom, mud swimming pools, and geyser cones.

You will additionally discover some mechanical tools within the discipline. The story is that an organization tried to faucet into discipline for vitality was deserted due to environmental impacts and drilling altering the behaviour of the new springs.

After you stroll via the primary space of geyser exercise, hop again into your automotive and park within the adjoining lot. That is to save lots of you a little bit of strolling and offer you entry to a different set of geysers. It’s related with the primary so you can too stroll right here if you would like. At this level, the solar will probably be out and the blue and purple hour will probably be over.

The ultimate part of the park is again close to the doorway with a thermal pool and extra viewpoints for extra geysers.

closed hot springs at geyser del tatio
Thermal pool when closed and water is drained

In the event you’re up for it, you should utilize the change rooms and bounce into the new springs in your bathing go well with. Fed from the geothermal exercise beneath, you swim round and soak within the mineral wealthy water, just like Blue Lagoon in Iceland however means much less glamorous.

By the point you are prepared to go away, the geyser exercise may have died down though not as dramatic as folks make it sound.


geyser del tatio entrance  buildings
arriving at the entrance gate at geyser del tatio in the morning
First entrance gate
geyser del tatio personal information form
Private data kind it’s important to fill out
geyser del tatio indoor ticket building
Indoor ticket workplace
geyser del tatio official ticket
Official ticket you may hand to the guard on the second gate

Tackle:  Each “El Tatio” and “Complejo Turístico Tatio Mallku” on Google Maps will take you the proper means. Alongside the best way, you may cross via a number of small villages. The lights from the tour vans forward ought to assist offer you a sign that you are going the proper means.

PAltitude: 4,320 meters (14,173 ft)

Hours: 6AM to 4:30PM

Web site: There’s none that we may discover.

Worth: For foreigners, the value is $15,000 CLP per individual. You’ll be able to pay by money or bank card and they’re going to cost you in CLP.

Length: Anticipate to spend 2-2.5 hours right here. In the event you’re going into the new springs, add extra time.

Services: There are bogs close to the entrance gate and likewise within the car parking zone subsequent to the new springs pool.

it is very cold in the morning at geyser del tatio
Sure, it’s totally chilly within the morning!
example of road conditions for drive to geyser del tatio
Instance of highway circumstances for Geyser del Tatio


  • Whereas locals will inform you that the drive is treacherous, it isn’t unhealthy because it sounds. There are some stretches which might be both paved or decently flattened whereas the bumpy elements require care round a number of dips and potholes. There aren’t many actual blindspots on turns to fret about both. The automotive will probably be shaking due to the uneven gravel however you may be superb.
  • You will even be pressured to maintain up with the tour vans however allow them to cross and as an alternative, observe the trail they tackle the highway for simpler driving.
  • The shape it’s good to fill out requires your identify, passport quantity, cellphone quantity, and automobile data.
  • That is at excessive altitude so remember that you’ll really feel extra fatigued and lose your breathe as you stroll. Take it sluggish and ensure to have water with you.
  • Since that is early within the morning, anticipate the temperatures to dip beneath freezing. In our case, it was -7°C (19.4°F) so have your winter gear with you (jacket, fleece, toque/beanie, and gloves).
  • You do not essentially have to arrive proper when the park opens. As a substitute, plan to reach when the solar begins to rise.
  • The park will probably be swarmed with white tour vans. In the primary geyser discipline car parking zone, there’s simply 10+ of them lined as much as offer you sense of how many individuals are there within the morning.
  • There’s surprisingly 3G mobile sign at Geyser del Tatio.
  • In the event you’ve been to geothermal websites in say New Zealand, Iceland, or Yellowstone within the US, go in with tempered expectations because the geysers do not shoot up into the sky (Iceland’s Strokkur Geyser erupts as much as 20 meters/65.6 ft versus 6 meters/20 ft) to offer you an thought of the distinction. There’s fairly a little bit of effervescent exercise and as soon as in awhile it’d go up a bit increased however these aren’t dramatic geysers.
  • It is extensively accepted that the one method to see Geyser del Tatio is to go within the morning which is when geothermal exercise is the strongest.
  • The pure sizzling springs was not open in September after we have been there. The pool was absolutely drained out. It is potential that it has but to be open due to the pandemic.
  • In the event you’re planning on going to the new springs, ensure you have your bathing go well with, change of garments, and towel.
  • Because it’s such an early morning, ask your lodge whether or not it is potential for them to arrange a packed breakfast.

Contrasting to the darkness of your drive in, you can see the encircling mountains, lakes, natural world, and birds that inhabit the close by space.

roadside viewpoint vistas near geyser del tatio

There’s additionally one lookout level alongside the best way again that is price stopping at that has a beautiful panoramic view of the panorama, and tour vans creating massive plumes of mud.

Midway again, you may cross by the village of Machuca. You are free to cease right here to go to the native church and contemporary llama kebabs in the event that they’re on the grill. You may additionally see flamingoes alongside the river that circulation via right here.

flamingos on river near machuca village

The weird factor that occurred to us passing via Machuca was that there was somebody from city that stopped all of the vehicles coming via to offer us with a chunk of paper with guidelines for the village together with no flying of drones, not taking images of residents, solely taking images from the facet of the highway, and never disturbing the wildlife. Since we did not perceive their Spanish, it was onerous to inform whether or not they have been welcoming us in or in the event that they wished to ensure we obeyed the principles. We merely nodded and stored driving.

You may be feeling a bit drained after such an early morning begin so be at liberty to move again to your lodge to nap.

empanadas from emporio andino at san pedro de atacama

Arriving again in San Pedro de Atacama, head over to Emporio Andino for lunch. They seem to be a cosy cafe with loads of tables inside. Their empanadas are a number of the finest on the town as nicely so we advocate that you just additionally take a number of to go so you possibly can nibble on them at sundown.

valle de la luna moon like landscape

Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) is the place you may spend the remainder of the afternoon in. It is a large park that has fairly a lot of key areas to go to so you may wish to ensure you have sufficient time.

What makes Valle de la Luna so particular is how spectacularly otherworldly it’s. With its geological formations that might simply be on the moon, Mars, or Arrakis from Dune.

valle de la luna hiking duna major
Climbing the ridge of Duna Main
duna major desert dunes in atacama
Desert dune at Duna Main

Whereas the ticketing system and what’s open and closed could be fairly irritating and complicated like most of Atacama. Listed here are the websites inside the park which might be presently opened. In every single place else is closed to guests:

  • Duna Main – This follows an enormous ridge within the valley that has towering views of the saw-tooth crusts that rise from the barren dessert, partitions of rounded purple rock, mazes of canyons, and a picturesque dune of superb sand.
  • Victoria Mine – An previous salt mine with examples of equipment, dwellings, and entry to the underground. You will not be capable to enter inside.
  • Tres Marías – A trio of rock spires that is situated on the far finish of the park that is accessible to the general public.

One other spectacular view is the Amphitheatre which is a formidable wall of sand, clay and salt resembles the outside wall of the Roman Colosseum. This may be seen from Duna Main and likewise up shut as you drive on the primary highway.


new valle de la luna visitor center
New Valle de la Luna customer heart

Just like Altiplanic Lakes, visiting Valle de la Luna with no tour isn’t as easy as you suppose.

Tackle:  The customer heart for Valle de la Luna is not marked on Google Maps as a result of it’s fairly new. We’ve it in our own map however on the app, you may wish to search “Alojamiento Haramaksi Atacama” which is true subsequent to it.

Altitude: 2,520 meters (8,268 ft)

Hours: Sunday to Friday 9AM – 7PM (final entry is at 4PM). Closed on Saturday.

Web site: They do not have an official web site however Chile Travel has good data.

Worth: For foreigners, the value is $10,000 CLP for adults and $5,000 for seniors, college college students, and children 12 and older once you purchase the ticket on-line via Punto Ticket (just like a Ticketmaster). It’s crucial that you just buy your tickets on-line forward of time as a result of they will really promote out of time slots. You will need to change the language to Chilean Spanish or Español chileno, in any other case it will not work.

Length: Anticipate to spend 2.5-3 hours right here primarily based on the three sights which might be open proper now. In the event you transfer shortly, you are able to do Duna Main’s longer path in an hour and the shorter path in half-hour. Victoria Mine is a fast Quarter-hour. Lastly, Tres Marias is a fast picture cease until you wish to get in line for a photograph proper in entrance.

Services: There are bogs on the customer heart. We didn’t see any rest room services contained in the park.

map of valle de la luna  with updated markings and stapled sunset ticket

Verify-in course of: On the customer heart, you may test in with the QR code in your online-purchased tickets and they’re going to clarify on a map what’s open, the principles of the park, and likewise offer you a separate ticket for the sundown viewing at Mirador de Kari & Piedra del Coyote. Afterwards, you permit the middle and do a self-guided drive of the park.

Often requested questions:

  • Can you purchase tickets on the day of? No you possibly can’t. Be sure you purchase your tickets online forward of time.
  • How does the sundown work? You would possibly suppose which you could watch the sundown from inside Valle de la Luna and previously it was. You used to have the ability to watch it from Duna Main however as an alternative, sundown viewing is on the mixed lookout known as Mirador de Kari (typically known as Ckari) and Piedra del Coyote (typically known as Mirador Coyote).
  • The place is the Magic Faculty Bus? It is a spot that is talked about quite a bit by different guides and whereas it seems to be prefer it’s a part of areas accessible in Valle de la Luna, it is not. There’s an unmarked highway that may lead you to it. In the event you’re , you possibly can observe this map to the Magic Bus.
  • Why is the ticket web page for Valle de la Luna clean? There is a unusual bug on their web site which I’ve allow them to learn about and this seems once you’re shopping from outdoors of Chile. You will need to change the language to Chilean Spanish or Español chileno, in any other case the web page will not work.
long trail loop at duna major at valle de la luna
The longer path loops again alongside the backbone to this viewpoint of the dune.
tres maria line up at valle de la luna
Skip the road and take images of Tres Maria from the facet.


  • When planning your journey, ensure you do not put this on a Saturday.
  • Really useful to purchase your tickets no less than every week prematurely to ensure the slot you need would not promote out. Worst case, ensure that to do it the primary day you arrive within the Atacama Desert.
  • It’s unclear if in an emergency, you should purchase tickets on the day of. All the data on the market says no so I might not financial institution on this.
  • Valle de la Luna is at a considerably decrease altitude so you will not really feel it as a lot because the Altiplanic Lakes.
  • The very best time to go to Valle de la Luna is within the afternoon so you possibly can mix it with sundown at Mirador de Kari & Piedra del Coyote.
  • The drive to the park and inside is sort of straightforward compared to Geyser del Tatio and Lagunas Baltinache.
  • The mountaineering path for Duna Main has two totally different routes. Whenever you attain a fork within the path, left is the longer means round which has a significantly better view of the canyon. The trail on the proper takes you straight up and connects with the view of the desert dune. A heads up that the longer path isn’t nice for these with vertigo since you’ll be proper up on the prime of the ridge which has drops on either side. That mentioned, the trail is sort of huge so it is manageable and value it as a result of it is truthfully the very best view within the park.
  • All mountaineering trails are designed to be a method paths with no doubling again. For these which might be self-driving which means that you will not end the hike on the authentic car parking zone. You will should take a strolling path alongside the primary highway again to your start line.
  • They noticeably implement the principles greater than anyplace else in Atacama Desert. The tour information vans will name you out on it (in our case, yell at you) and park rangers will cease you to offer you warnings. Listed here are those to concentrate to:
    • Be certain to stay to the 40 km/h velocity restrict. The reality is, they actually anticipate you to drive 20 km/h as we have been warned by the park ranger.
    • Don’t stroll on the highway and follow the strolling paths.
    • Do not take away any pure minerals for souvenirs.
view of valle de luna from mirador de kari
View from Mirador de Kari (extra mountains)
view of valle de la luna at piedra del coyote
View from Piedra del Coyote (extra valley flooring)
photographing sunset from mirador de kari
Photographing sundown from Mirador de Kari

After you end exploring Valle de la Luna, you may have unique entry to a brand new sundown viewing spot that is adjoining to Mirador Lickan-Antai. This location is definitely two viewpoints in a single and known as Mirador de Kari & Piedra del Coyote (Kari Viewpoint & Coyote Stone).

The distinction with Mirador Lickan-Antai is that that it has a greater view of the valley flooring of Valle de la Luna and is at barely increased elevation, thus offering a greater birds-eye-like view.

Mirador de Kari is on the left and to the proper is Piedra del Coyote. After you scout the world and decide your favorite spot, you can watch the solar set behind the mountain vary within the distance.


That is an extension to Valle de la Luna however there are a number of particulars price breaking out.

sunset ticket for valle de la luna
Sundown viewing ticket connected to the map
road sign for mirador de kari and piedra del coyote
Street indicators for the viewpoints
views from mirador de kari in atacama
Views from Mirador de Kari
sunset viewing at mirador de kari
Wanting again at Mirador de Kari from Piedra del Coyote
looking at piedra del coyote from mirador de kari
Taking a look at Piedra del Coyote from Mirador de Kari
close up of sunset viewing at piedra del coyote
Shut up of Piedra del Coyote
crowds dispersing at piedra del coyote
Crowds dispersing at PIedra del Coyote

Tackle:  On Google Maps, it is appropriately marked as “Mirador de Kari – Piedra del Coyote” so it must be straightforward to seek out. It’s also proper off of the primary highway. There’s additionally good signage right here, marking the situation.

Altitude: 2,580 meters (8,465 ft)

Hours: For sundown, there’s a strict final entry time offered by the Valle de la Luna customer heart. For instance, in September this time is at 6:45PM (marked on our map) however will change all year long. Keep in mind that that is closed on Saturday.

Worth: That is included for Valle de la Luna ticket holders and legitimate for the day you go to.

Length: The sundown instances will change all year long however from the final entry time to once they kick folks out, you may have roughly 45 minutes. After everybody applauses when the orb of the solar disappears, they may anticipate you to filter.

Services: We didn’t see any bogs right here so it is a good suggestion to make use of them on the Valle de la Luna customer heart on the best way out.

Verify-in course of: After you flip into the perspective, there will probably be a small constructing with a guard there. They may take the ticket and you will be allowed to proceed to search for a parking spot.

Often requested questions:

  • Are you able to keep for the complete sundown? They may solely will let you keep till when the solar dips beneath the mountains and you’ll not see it anymore. At this level, the workers will begin ushering folks to go away.
  • Is Mirador de Kari or Piedra del Coyote higher? For extra views of the open valley flooring, Piedra del Coyote is healthier. If you wish to be nearer to thejagged ridges, Mirador de Kari is healthier.
  • Are tripods allowed? Sure.
  • Are you able to go to Mirador de Kari & Piedra del Coyote individually to Valle de la Luna? No, you possibly can solely come right here with the acquisition of Valle de la Luna tickets on the identical day.


  • Be certain to plan sufficient time to drive from Valle de la Luna to the sundown viewing level. It is going to take Quarter-hour from the customer heart.
  • There are parking spots at each Mirador de Kari (left) and Piedra del Coyote (proper).
  • Mirador de Kari and Piedra del Coyote are related so you possibly can stroll from one finish to the opposite.
  • For a greater view of the valley flooring, we advocate Piedra del Coyote. For a view that is just like Mirador Lickan-Antai with jagged and layered canyons, go to Mirador de Kari on the left.
  • Between right here and Mirador Lickan-Antai, we would not say that that is considerably higher. You will discover that the chain that stops folks from getting too near the sting is sort of conservative (for good motive) so it is fairly onerous to get a photograph with out the cliff within the foreground.
  • In the event you’re a photographer, attempt to work shortly to determine a particular spot you wish to {photograph} as a result of it will get crowded fairly shortly. The sides will refill with folks and it will be onerous to relocate so it is best to camp out one spot.
  • It is actually unlucky that you just will not be capable to keep for correct actual golden hour since they kick everybody out so early. Mirador Lickan-Antai is your higher guess for images.
couple eating dinner at baltinache restaurant in san pedro de atacama

After sundown, have dinner at the most effective eating places in San Pedro de Atacama. Baltinache Restaurant elevates Chilean dishes in each preparation, fashionable cooking strategies, and presentation. Refreshingly concentrating on a refined eating viewers, their focus in high quality over amount is clear of their 3-course menu for $23,500 CLP.

In the event you occur to be on the town on a Friday night time, ensure that to take a look at the native night time market (marked on our map). They’ve meals stands, carnival video games, and dance golf equipment.

Pleasant reminder to fuel up!

Day 4 Abstract

Driving time: The drive from San Pedro de Atacama to Geyser del Tatio is 1.5 hours. The Valle de la Luna customer heart is a brief 10 minutes drive from city.

What you may see:

  • Geyser del Tatio
  • Valle de la Luna
  • Mirador de Kari & Piedra del Coyote

The place you may eat:

  • Breakfast – Snacks within the automotive or packed breakfast
  • LunchEmporio Andino – In style cafe on the town with an incredible collection of espresso, desserts, sandwiches, and empanadas.
  • DinnerBaltinache Restaurant – An inexpensive high-class restaurant with an outstanding 3-course menu that may simply be certainly one of your finest eating experiences in Chile. Reservations really helpful throughout excessive season.

The place you may keep:


  • Do not be petrified of the drive – Whereas Atacama appears to be geared in the direction of taking excursions, take confidence in understanding that many individuals have efficiently performed it independently with a rental automotive. The drive as much as Geyser de Tatio isn’t as unhealthy as folks make it out to be.
  • Ebook tickets on-line – I do know we’re beating a useless horse right here however ensure that to purchase your Valle de la Luna tickets on-line prematurely and keep in mind that they’re closed on Saturday.

Day 5: Floating On Water

floating in a salt lagoon at baltinache of the atacama desert

After a busy 4 days within the Atacama Desert, you may take a neater tempo by attending to the extra stress-free portion of the journey. With so many salt flats and lakes, you may get to do the distinctive exercise of floating within the hidden lagoons of Baltinache.

You deserve a break and so we recommend that you just sleep in and have a late breakfast at Hoteles Pueblo de Tierra which works till 10:30AM.

With your entire gear within the automotive, set out for a really bumpy drive out to the Lagunas Baltinache (Baltinache Lagoons). Like the opposite sights in Atacama, they may inform you it isn’t really helpful to drive there but it surely’s very a lot potential.

After a 1 hour and Quarter-hour on a continuously rumbling gravel highway, the services of the lagoon will come out of nowhere like an oasis.

Turquoise salt lagoons of Laguna Baltinache

Dazzling with crystal clear turquoise and surrounded by snow-like salt and mysterious bumps within the floor, there are 7 salt lakes right here that may be explored by two most important parking heaps and a boardwalk that connects them.

The surreal panorama is enhanced by the flexibility to enter 2 of those lakes the place the acute salinity permits your physique to drift once you’re within the water. It is a related expertise to the Lifeless Sea besides right here, you are in a a lot smaller lake that is surrounded by a desert panorama.


directions to laguna baltinache with sign to peine
Signal indicating a left flip onto B-241 in the direction of Peine
directions to laguna baltinache main attraction sign
You will know you are heading in the right direction with the signal for Laguna Baltinache early on
fallen sign for lagna baltinache on b241
Drive on B-241 till you see this signal, the place you may make a left
drive towards entrance gate for laguna baltinache
Ultimate drive in the direction of entrance of Laguna Baltinache

Tackle:  Lagunas Baltinache is just like Laguna Chaxa in that it’s important to lookup a particular identify on Google Maps to go to the proper place. You must seek for “Lagunas Escondidas de Baltinache” and never merely “Lagunas Baltinache” as a result of that pin is totally incorrect. The principle freeway you may be taking is B-241.

Altitude: 2,349 meters (7,707 ft)

Hours: 9AM – 6PM

Web site: They do not have an official web site sadly.

Worth: For foreigners, the value is $10,000 CLP for adults and $5,000 for youths 5-18. It is a fastened charge all through the day.

Length: Anticipate to spend 2-3 hours right here.

laguna baltinache entrance parking area
Entrance space with momentary services and workplace constructing to the proper with bogs

Services: There are bogs on the entrance space. At present it seems to be like they’re attempting to construct a brand new construction. In the mean time, there aren’t any correct change rooms so you may have to resort to the lavatory stalls. With the renovation, there are additionally no showers.

lagnuna baltinache entrance area
entrance space with ticket sales space on the left and services on the left
laguna baltinache map
The map of Laguna Baltinache

Verify-in course of: When you get to the primary gate, just like Laguna Chaxa, you may should stroll into the container constructing to fill out a kind and pay. The shape asks identify, passport quantity, cellphone quantity, and automotive data. As soon as you have paid, there’s one other constructing adjoining to the container the place a information will clarify the principles of the park together with declaring the important thing areas on the map. This orientation is especially in Spanish however they will attempt their finest in English if they will. After that, you get again in your automotive and drive both to the car parking zone for the primary lagoon or the furthest and bigger lagoon within the again.

laguna baltinache first pool deck

Lagoon #1 expertise: That is the smaller lake that is nearer to the doorway.

  • Smaller in dimension and suits much less folks comfortably.
  • Most photogenic lake the place with huge angle, you could be captured as the one individual within the lake.
  • A way more nice expertise as a result of there are 7 picnic tables with umbrellas. This lets you lay out your garments and kit for fast entry.
  • There’s a massive picket deck above the rocky floor which makes it simpler to get into the lagoon
  • The sting of the lake is encrusted with rock and salt that may give you cuts however in the event you stroll rigorously, it isn’t a problem.
  • The outer a part of the lagoon isn’t deep in order that’ll will let you enter the water first. The turquoise a part of the lagoon is the place it will get deeper.
  • Whenever you come out of the lake, you may begin really feel the salt crusting over your pores and skin and can finally flip white.
second lagoon at laguna baltinache

Lagoon #2 expertise: That is all the best way within the again and reached to by a protracted boardwalk from the car parking zone. You can even stroll to right here on the boardwalk that connects from Lagoon #1.

  • A bigger lagoon that’s arrange extra like a standard seaside the place there is a huge and gradual entry into the water .
  • There are not any picnic tables right here so you may be placing your issues on the rocks.
  • This lagoon can match much more folks.
  • It is fairly onerous to get the complete width of the lagoon in a photograph.
  • There’s a for much longer stroll on the boardwalk to get again to your automotive.
  • General, the primary lagoon is a significantly better expertise in our opinion.
inide ticket office for laguna baltinache
Contained in the ticket workplace
rules for laguna baltinache
Guidelines posted outdoors


  • Drones should not allowed.
  • Do not stroll or sit on the sting of the lake.
  • You are solely allowed to scrub off within the car parking zone by your automotive.
  • Solely put sunscreen in your face and never your physique.

Often requested questions:

  • What’s one of the simplest ways to scrub off the salt? You might be solely allowed to rinse off within the car parking zone. Together with your bathing go well with nonetheless on, use a big bottle or jug of water, rinse off your hair and check out your finest to rub off the salt off your physique earlier than it is had time to crystallize.
  • Can you purchase tickets on the day of? Sure. You needn’t make reservations on-line.
  • When is the very best time to go? There are bus excursions that run all through the day however from private expertise, there did not appear to be too many individuals right here between 1:30PM – 3:30PM. A giant batch of excursions are available in at round 3:30PM or 4PM. The park then will get fairly once more at 5PM so finish of the day is a good time as nicely. Mornings are additionally quieter.
  • Are drones allowed? No. They explicitly point out this within the briefing and there is a signal for it as nicely.
rinsing station in parking lot after swimming at laguna baltinache
Makeshift rinsing station within the car parking zone
check tire pressure before driving to laguna baltinache
Verify your tire strain earlier than driving


  • It may be fairly windy on this a part of the desert so whereas it is rather sunny, it may be chilly. Since it is rather windy, ensure that the belongings you placed on the bottom or on the tables are secured.
  • The water isn’t heat in any respect. At 20ºC (68ºF), it’s going to be a little bit of a shock once you first get in however on a sizzling summer time day, could be fairly refreshing.
  • Whenever you come out of the lake, it may be exceptionally chilly particularly with the wind blowing so you may need a towel that is simply accessible.
  • The benefit of coming by yourself vs with a tour is that you will have extra freedom to remain longer as a result of most excursions are restricted to 1.5 hours. By yourself, there’s additionally the prospect to have the lagoon all to your self.
  • Do not take off your sandals till you enter the water as a result of the bottom could be sharp. Folks have been recognized to get cuts. Positively put on your sneakers when strolling on the paths.
  • To make issues simpler, go there together with your bathing go well with already on and pack a full change of garments, towels, sunscreen, and loads of water for rinsing and ingesting. Additionally pack a primary assist package in case somebody will get cuts.
  • Realistically, you will not be staying within the water for so long as you suppose. Relying on the temperature, most individuals keep in for 10-20 minutes tops.
  • The place more often than not goes is in drying off, warming up, rinsing off, and altering. There’s additionally the board stroll path you may be strolling to see the opposite lagoons.
  • Some will not have a response to the excessive salt content material however some could have extra delicate pores and skin. It is onerous to inform in the event you’ll have a damaging response to the salt until you have performed it earlier than. If a rash or hives develops, use antihistamines you probably have them or go to the pharmacy and ask for calamine lotion. In case your pores and skin begins hurting whereas within the water, get out.
  • Keep away from getting the water in your eyes. Attempt to swim together with your head above water.

After your floating escape, drive again into city and it is extremely really helpful to return to the lodge to bathe as a result of the salt could be fairly irritating.

For the remainder of the night, you may have one other alternative to discover the stunning vibe of downtown San Pedro de Atacama.

Whenever you’re feeling hungry, head over to Ckunna, a restaurant situated on one of many most important streets and has an incredible mixture of scrumptious Andean delicacies and Italian dishes.

In the event you’re up for dessert, we advocate Heladería Babalú. There are two areas on the town and you will take pleasure in their distinctive flavors.

Do not forget to gas up the automotive earlier than heading again dwelling!

Day 5 Abstract

Driving time: It is a powerful 1 hour and Quarter-hour drive one-way from San Pedro de Atacama to Lagunas Baltinache.

What you may see:

The place you may eat:

  • Brunch – A late breakfast at Hoteles Pueblo de Tierra
  • DinnerCkunna – A typical restaurant in Atacama with a mixture of meat dishes and Italian. They’ve a spacious out of doors eating area with fireplace pit and indoor tables as nicely.
  • DesertHeladería Babalú – The principle gelato store on the town. There are two of those in San Pedro de Atacama.

The place you may keep:


  • Hwy B-241 is horrible – The highway to Lagunas Baltinache is well worse than B-245 to Geyser del Tatio as a result of there aren’t any good elements in any respect. The complete highway was flattened by a machine that left a tank tread of bumps within the highway so it is a rumble throughout.
  • Drive quick – It will sound counterintuitive however the recommendation of driving 20-30 km/h in an effort to watch out would not work nicely since you really feel each single bump. By driving 60-80km/h, you may really really feel much less of the highway because the bumps in some way even out.
  • Cut back tire strain – On the fuel station, it’s going to additionally assist to cut back the tire strain to by 2 to 4 PSI. As an illustration the Nissan Kicks must be at 32 PSI. For gravel roads, you possibly can carry it right down to 28-30 PSI.
  • Do not low cost out on automotive insurance coverage – When renting a automotive, go for the insurance coverage protection simply in case you find yourself with windshield chips or you will have different points with the automotive. We’re not saying that this highway is treacherous however higher protected than sorry.

Day 6: Puritama Oasis

puritama hot springs thermas de puritama in atacama

In your ultimate day of your 6 day Atacama desert itinerary, you may be pampering your self with a real oasis in the midst of a desert canyon.

By now, you are in all probability uninterested in the lodge breakfast so deal with your self to La Franchuteria, a bakery and cafe that brings France to the desert.

Locals come right here to fill up on baguettes and a big selection of artisanal breads however we advocate that you just seize a seat of their out of doors eating area that has fairly the free-spirited ambiance. Their sandwiches, croissants, contemporary juices, and low are very good.

At brunch, there’s normally reside music enjoying (for donation) and native distributors with tables arrange.

Subsequent, you may begin making your means up the identical highway that you’d’ve taken to go to the Geysers del Tatio, the B-245 besides you will not be going as far. You will be well-accustomed to the roads at this level and you can make it to Puritama Sizzling Springs in a fast half-hour.

Nestled in an Andean canyon is the Puritama Conservation Reserve the place you may discover the Puritama River. “Puri” which means water and “Tama” means sizzling and for a 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) stretch, the river turns into naturally heated, slowly filling 8 pure swimming pools carved into the rock.

At present managed by the posh lodge model, Explora, you possibly can e-book time slots to soak within the swimming pools which might be wealthy in calcium, magnesium, sodium and boron, that are really helpful for really helpful for rheumatism, arthritis, stress, bodily fatigue and different illnesses – simply what you want after 6 days within the Atacama Desert!

Every pool is numbered from 1 to eight and the water right here ranges from 28°C (82.4°F) to 31°C (87.8°F), with the swimming pools increased up being barely hotter than those beneath.


reserva natural puritama wooden sign post
parking lot for termas de puritama
Parking zone
trail down to puritama hot springs
Strolling path right down to sizzling springs

Tackle:  The pin for “Puritama” or “Termas de Puritama” are correct on Google Maps and can take you to the doorway gate.

Altitude: 3,475 meters (11,401 ft)

Hours: 9:30AM to six:30PM

Web site: Puritama

Electronic mail: [email protected]

Worth: Youngsters 3 years and beneath are free. Children are youngsters 4-12.

  • 9:30AM – 12:30PM Slot – Adults $30,000 CLP, Children and Aged $15,000 CLP
  • 2PM – 5PM Slot – Adults $30,000 CLP, Children and Aged $15,000 CLP
  • 5:30PM – 6:30PM Slot – Adults $16,000 CLP, Children and Aged $8,000 CLP

Length: Anticipate to spend the complete period of your time slot. A heads up that the sundown slot is just for an hour.

puritama change rooms
Change room services
puritama picnic tables
Picnic space
puritama change room lockers interior
Lockers and bench within the change room
puritama individual bathroom facilities
Particular person bogs

Services: There are two units of change room and loo services unfold throughout the new springs. There’s a central one which sizzling springs that swimming pools 4-8 will use. There’s one other one which’s nearer to swimming pools 1-3. On the central central, there may be additionally a big picnic space of tables and benches and are principally beneath shade (9 in complete).

  • Bogs – Behind the change room facility are particular person bogs.
  • Change room – Divided between female and male. Inside are lockers and two benches. The lockers have no inbuilt locks and so you may have to carry your personal.
  • Picnic tables – 7 are beneath shade and a pair of are uncovered to the solar. These are fashionable concrete picnic tables which might be bolted to the bottom and are helpful for these wanting a break from the new springs to return up to hang around or seize a chunk.
  • Showers – There aren’t any showers at Puritama.
cars outside puritama gate
Vehicles scrambled outdoors entrance gate
puritama ticket booth at entrance
Ticket sales space at entrance

Verify-in course of: In the event you arrive early, you may discover a large number of vehicles parked throughout the gate. It is a bit of organized chaos however proper when your time slot begins, the gate opens and one after the other vehicles flip in. The individual within the sales space will ask for the identify on the reservation and after that, you may be let via. Drive up the gravel highway to the car parking zone. There’s loads of area right here. Observe the path downhill to succeed in the new springs. There will not be anybody checking tickets or identification at this level.

Verify-out course of:

They don’t seem to be overly aggressive however the guards will make their rounds 10-Quarter-hour earlier than to get folks out of the swimming pools, modified, and able to go. On the finish of your time slot, everybody will probably be anticipated to be making their means again to their vehicles.


  • No smoking
  • No alcoholic drinks
  • No drones
  • No pets

Often requested questions:

  • Are you allowed to take images and movies? Sure, in contrast to some spas, there aren’t any guidelines stopping this. In actual fact, most friends will probably be taking tons of images on the swimming pools so be courteous and assist one another out.
  • Which is the very best pool? Having visited every one, our opinion is that Pool #5 is essentially the most photogenic. It is a medium sized pool that may match 10 folks and has waterfalls working over two massive boulders on one facet and has a pleasant ledge that cascades right down to the following pool.
  • Which is the biggest pool? Essentially the most spacious pool that may match the most individuals is Pool #2.
  • Are you assigned a particular pool? Coming proper out of the pandemic, you have been compelled to choose a pool quantity and there’d be a most variety of folks per pool. In the event you’ve learn this, these have been the previous guidelines. Assigned swimming pools are not a factor anymore.
  • Are you able to attempt totally different swimming pools? Now that the bounds are on the entire sizzling springs themselves (100 for AM and PM, and 50 for sundown), versus assigned swimming pools, you are free to attempt totally different swimming pools.
  • Can you purchase tickets on the day of? No, it’s important to make reservations forward of time and are most certainly offered out for the day of however you would possibly get fortunate.
  • When is the very best time to go? The afternoon is essentially the most best time slot as a result of the solar will probably be out and you will really feel much less of a chill once you come out of the water.
  • How sizzling are the swimming pools? The water temperature ranges from 28°C (82.4°F) to 31°C (87.8°F) however there aren’t any thermometers on the swimming pools. Logic would dictate that the swimming pools on the prime (decrease numbers) are hotter however in follow, when testing Pool #5 vs. Pool #8, we didn’t really feel a ignificant distinction. We imagine the temperature vary is extra depending on geothermal circumstances and climate on the day of with slight variations pool to pool.
  • Is there a spot to place your belongings by the pool? There kind of is. Every pool has a picket deck. Since most individuals elect to maintain their belongings with them (i.e. their digital camera, telephones, and towels), they will carry their backpack proper to the deck and place it on the bottom. There aren’t any hooks or benches.
  • Do most individuals keep within the pool for the complete time slot? Sure, the three hours really goes by extremely quick. When you’d suppose you’d wish to take a break in between after your pores and skin wrinkles up, the chilliness outdoors of the water makes you wish to keep within the water the entire time.
  • Can you will have meals and drinks by the pool? Technically, sure as there are not any guidelines that forestall this but it surely makes extra sense to eat and drink on the relaxation space. That mentioned, the workers do not precisely make rounds on the swimming pools and so long as you eat or drink in a respectful and sanitary means, it must be okay. Simply keep in mind that no alcohol is allowed.

Gallery of all 8 swimming pools (click on to open full display screen):


  • We advocate reserving 1 week prematurely.
  • Present up 15-20 minutes forward of your time slot so you will get checked in first. This implies positioning your automotive proper throughout the entrance gate. This gives you essentially the most time within the swimming pools and you will ha e an opportunity to take images with out folks round you.
  • If you would like to make use of the locker within the change room, bear in mind to carry a travel lock.
  • The one pool that is off limits is the VIP part of Pool #1.
  • Whereas over at a barely increased altitude, it would not have a noticeable influence apart from the stroll again as much as the car parking zone on the finish of your session.
  • Go in with a cautious technique of the way you arrange your belongings in order that necessary gadgets reminiscent of towels are simply accessible and telephones/cameras could be safely put away.
  • Even on a sunny day, it’s fairly a shock to the system once you come out of the water due to the temperature distinction and the way windy it’s even within the canyon. Have your towel useful.
  • For people who would slightly take a van to Puritama, you possibly can book a tour as an alternative.
la pica del indio restaurant entrance in 6 day san pedro de atacama itinerary

For dinner, you may eat at La Pica Del Indio, a restaurant with a contemporary rotation of day by day dishes, inexpensive costs, and nice service. Be happy to attempt one other restaurant which may’ve caught your eye or revisit one from the earlier days.

Now you are in all probability questioning, what concerning the half about leaving the Atacama Desert? Relying in your flight, you may be driving your automotive rental again to Calama. It’s going to be a simple drive however bear in mind to refill on the town earlier than you go to the airport. This implies pinning a fuel station in your map app beforehand.

Day 6 Summary

Driving time: It’s a 30 minute one-way drive from San Pedro de Atacama to Puritama.

What you’ll do:

  • Termas de Puritama (Puritama Hot Springs)

Where you’ll eat:

  • LunchLa Franchuteria – A French bakery and cafe that has severe hipster vibes in one of the simplest ways potential with their alfresco eating, vegan-friendly menu, and rows of sycamore-like timber.
  • DinnerLa Pica Del Indio – Tremendous inexpensive restaurant with an incredible assortment of meat, fish, and pasta.

The place you may keep:


  • Ebook early – Like Valle de la Luna, you may wish to book Puritama as early as potential as a result of it’s a very fashionable attraction in Atacama.

How You May Tweak This Atacama Itinerary

There are such a lot of alternative ways you possibly can construct a 6 day Atacama Desert itinerary. That is actually only one means this journey could be performed. With totally different pursuits and period of time, you possibly can change it up in any means that is smart for you.

Listed here are a number of options which might be price contemplating:

  • Ebook with excursions – One of many apparent modifications can be to go the standard route and e-book the usual bus excursions that they provide so you do not have to fret as a lot concerning the finer particulars and the difficult driving. For people who wish to e-book prematurely, we advocate you try Viator and GetYourGuide.
  • Rainbow Valley – Sure, the Atacama Desert has its personal model of Rainbow Valley. We opted to not go as a result of we have been warned that the Google instructions weren’t very useful. That mentioned, it seems to be like a superb hike. The identify to search for is “Valle del Arcoiris” and is near the Yerbas Buenas Petroglyphs. We extremely advocate that you just get AllTrails and observe their trail map.
  • Yerbas Buenas Petroglyphs – The variety of petroglyphs that may be discovered right here is staggering. That is situated north of San Pedro de Atacama and close to the city of Lican.
  • Pukará de Quitor Citadel – It is a pre-Columbian archeological web site that overlooks the valley of the river San Pedro. Come right here to see the ruins of a fortress that was used to guard native indigenous folks from the Spanish conquistadors.
  • Laguna Cejar – In terms of salt lakes, there are literally fairly a quantity to select from however in the event you’re like us, you will not really feel prefer it’s essential to see all of them. Some say that this lake is a bit underwhelming however what’s distinctive about it’s which you could swim in. Probabilities of seeing flamingos can also be fairly low right here so it is major for swimming. The price is $15,000 CLP.
  • Laguna Tebinquinche – One other lagoon with an entrance price ($5,000 CLP). It is a big salt lake with some chook life however they do not usually come near the shoreline in comparison with Laguna Chaxa. Word that this can be a minute drive from Laguna Cejar and is commonly mixed collectively.
  • Bolivia – Whenever you have a look at the map, you understand how shut the Bolivia border is. You will not be capable to do it as a day journey however in the event you’re bold, there are methods to succeed in the Uyuni Salt Flats from San Pedro de Atacama.
  • Sandboarding – Initially we wished to do that however we discovered from a neighborhood that Valle de la Muerte (also called Valle de Marte) it was closed. Not having g the time to verify this, we scrapped the concept. Additionally, in strolling round San Pedro de Atacama, we did not see any tour operators selling sandboard leases. Finally, the one operator providing that is Sandboard San Pedro which is expensive however may be the one method to do it now as they take you to a secret sand dune outdoors of city.
  • Sizzling Air Balloon – Within the morning, you may see a lot of sizzling air balloons rise within the sky. That is an inexpensive activity you can book.
  • Biking – A well-liked exercise in Atacama is driving a bicycle. You’ll be able to hire them or you possibly can select from certainly one of many biking adventures like this e-bike trip to Laguna Cejar or going downhill on a volcano.
  • Láscar Volcano Summit – You are able to do a full day hike as much as the highest of this volcano. Private trips up begin at $200 USD.

Map of San Pedro de Atacama Desert Itinerary

The beneath is an interactive map damaged down by layers for every day of the itinerary so you possibly can see the place issues are in relation to one another within the Atacama Desert.

TIP: To create a replica of this map to your personal use, merely maximize the map to open it up in a brand new tab. From there, go into the menu and choose “Copy map”. You’ll make your personal changes and open it up within the Google Maps app as nicely.

5 Ideas for Self-Driving within the Atacama Desert

rocky canyon roads near san pedro de atacama

After we take into consideration our automotive rental and driving expertise in and round San Pedro de Atacama, there are 5 core learnings that we might like to impart to you as you construct out your personal Atacama itinerary.

  1. Pin the proper spots – The de-facto navigation app is Google Maps and whereas it solely works once you get the situation proper. The Atacama Desert is infamous for deceiving pin areas so ensure you know the precise identify. Fortunately, we have made certain to be fairly express about this at every location.
  2. Refill on daily basis – Bear in mind that there’s solely the one fuel station in San Pedro de Atacama and after our drama in Milford Sound, New Zealand, we discovered to not take the prospect. Get into the behavior of filling up your tank each night time.
  3. Verify your tire strain – Some rental vehicles have tire strain sensors and a few do not. That is a type of stuff you usually do not take into consideration however with the powerful highway circumstances, you may wish to ensure you’ have good tire strain on daily basis as nicely. Fortunately, the one and solely fuel station, COPEC, has a tire pump gadget that is free.
  4. Altitude can hit whereas driving – Pay attention to how you are feeling once you’re driving on the day you go to the Altiplanic Lakes as you may be going via excessive mountain passes. Drink loads of water and take a break in the event you a sudden wave of fatigue.
  5. Driving sooner could be higher than slower on the gravel roads – On flat and straight roads such because the one you may be taking to Lagunas Baltinache, you may initially wish to drive 20 km/h however you may really really feel each single bump. By selecting up the velocity to 60-80km/h, you may have a smoother journey. It is counter-intuitive. We advocate that you just give it a attempt as you construct extra confidence.

For all of our suggestions for touring the Atacama Desert, ensure that to read our travel guide.

How A lot Does This Atacama Itinerary Value

For these which might be contemplating renting a automotive, here is an correct illustration of how a lot you’d anticipate to spend on a 6 day San Pedro de Atacama itinerary.

Precise itinerary prices

Here is what we really spent (costs are in USD) and for 2 folks:

Expense Value (USD)
Flight $876.17
Automobile Rental $377.09
Gas $139.55
Lodge $628.00
Actions (i.e. entrance charges) $432.68
Groceries $8.00
Eating places $301.00
Souvenirs $70.00
Ideas $45.00
TOTAL $2,877.49

The one factor that is lacking right here is the Entel SIM card which I bought within the Patagonia leg of the trip.

Journey value per individual = $1,439 USD

This breaks right down to $240 USD per day per individual. For reference, our 10 days in Egypt was $203.51 USD.

What would the associated fee be with no rental automotive?

That is a giant quantity for 10 days however it could assist to place it in perspective towards different itineraries.

All else being the identical and swapping out the rental automotive for excursions, you would be taking a look at reserving these (USD, per individual):

Word that excursions do not embody entrance charges so we’re not factoring these prices right here.

Complete value for two folks comes out to $595.38 USD in comparison with $572.09 for the automotive rental, gas, and Puritama entrance price. That does not even embody tipping!

The prices are very related so it actually comes right down to how snug you might be with driving and whether or not you need the liberty to discover at your personal tempo, and general flexibility.

Who Is This Itinerary For?

That results in this ultimate part concerning the final kind of traveller this Atacama itinerary is for.

That is the kind of traveller this journey is constructed for:

  • Seeks journey and prepared to attempt new issues.
  • Loves the fun of exploring with your personal automotive.
  • Whereas loving journey, additionally seems to be for a stability of consolation, good meals, and rest.
  • Needs to have management of the itinerary versus being led round by massive bus excursions.
  • Prepared to spend extra time in a single place versus speeding via every little thing.
  • Photographers

Who this isn’t for:

  • Somebody with a good schedule and solely have 2-3 days.
  • Finances backpacker seeking to do it as low cost as potential.
  • Whereas not price range, it isn’t luxurious both. For that, e-book an all-inclusive stick with Explora Atacama or Tierra Atacama.

Closing Ideas

san pedro de atacama itinerary milky way stargazing

By this 6 day Atacama itinerary, you may have an opportunity to get a radical have a look at what makes space such a preferred vacation spot in Chile. Whereas seemingly in a desolate place, it has an abundance of actually distinctive pure wonders whether or not it is the celebrities, geothermal exercise, salt lagoons, and lunar-like geology.

Whereas most individuals will come right here for a fast cease earlier than transitioning to a different a part of South America or Chile, that is the proper period of time the place you will not really feel rushed and you will have a while to chill out as nicely.

Renting a automotive right here may additionally really feel like a controversial selection as it is also the much less frequent selection however in the event you’re like us and wish to discover at your personal tempo, we are able to verify that it is the superior possibility. That mentioned, there are a number of challenges with new guidelines and insurance policies however we have laid out every little thing we discovered. Additionally, the driving is tough (actually and figuratively) however actually not as a nasty thought as some make it out to be.

The Atacama Desert is a particular place and is certainly to not be missed in the event you’re planning a visit to Chile.

Often Requested Questions

The place do you have to keep in Atacama?

To see the Atacama Desert in Chile, it’s important to keep within the city of San Pedro de Atacama. There are numerous accommodations, hostels, B&B’s, and luxurious properties to select from.

How do you get to the Atacama Desert?

The closest airport is Calama’s El Loa Airport (CJC). From there, it is a 1 hour and 17 minute drive to San Pedro de Atacama which is the central city to discover the Atacama Desert.

Are drones allowed in Atacama?

Lagunas Miscanti and Miñiques and Laguna Baltinache have clear indicators and guidelines about no drones. Somewhere else, there aren’t any express guidelines that say they don’t seem to be allowed however use your finest judgement. If flying, be very cautious to not take off or land close to sand.

When is the very best time of 12 months to go to Atacama?

In case you are right here for stargazing, the very best skies are literally within the winter however in any other case, summer time is the warmest however for fewer crowds, contemplate spring and fall.

How protected is San Pedro de Atacama?

San Pedro de Atacama is a protected city for guests regardless of the the primary impression you will have. Relying totally on tourism, there are numerous outlets, eating places, and providers arrange for travellers and every little thing is extremely pleasant. Crime charge is low with petty theft as the one concern. Inside Latin America, San Pedro de Atacama is well one of many most secure cities.

What number of days do you want within the Atacama Desert?

You want no less than 4 days to see the primary sights in Atacama however 6 days is good.

The place can you purchase groceries in San Pedro de Atacama?

There are a number of grocery shops in San Pedro de Atacama. Essentially the most central is Mercado San Vicente however the most cost-effective is Supermercado Ketal.

You made it! We all know that this was fairly the prolonged itinerary however we’re assured that the small print will enable your journey to run soothly. You probably have a query about this Atacama itinerary, ensure that to drop a remark!

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Supply: goingawesomeplaces.com

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