Chile: Atacama Desert (5 days)
San Pedro de Atacama is the archaeological capital of Chile, and the main cultural centre of the Antofagasta region in Northern Chile.
It is a small town with narrow streets and adobe houses and serves as the starting point for excursions to see the lunar landscape of moon valley, the Atacama salt flats with their extraordinary geology and birdlife, Tatio geysers and other natural features, highland villages, and a variety of museums and ceremonial sites dating back thousands of years. Additionally - few destinations rival Atacama’s nightly sky, making this a prime spot for star gazing.
2017 Departure Dates & Cost
Departures are daily based on minimum 2 persons
Based on 3 star accommodation (Poblado de Kimal or similar) $ 1,060 USD
Based on first class accommodation (Casa Atacama or similar) $ 1,220 USD
Day 1 Arrival in San Pedro de Atacama (B)
Arrival in San Pedro de Atacama by public bus from Salta, by overland from Uyuni, Bolivia or by flight from Santiago. On arrival you will be met at the bus and transferred to Hotel Poblado de Kimal, 4 nights.
Day 2 San Pedro (Tatio Geysers and Machuca village) (B)
Join in group early departure towards El Tatio Geysers. (Private departures are also available on request.) This is an incredible geothermal field located in the Andes Mountains which presents at the early hours of the morning an impressive steaming fumaroles activity produced by high temperature of its craters. The Altiplano here reaches an altitude of 4,320 meters above sea level. Be witness to the different geothermal manifestations and its fumaroles that easily reach 10 meters high and the geysers up to 8 meters. After watching this impressive spectacle, you will have the opportunity to take a bath in the hot springs.
Taking the same way back, we stop for a few minutes in the wetlands of Putana, where you can see different species against the backdrop of the Colorado Volcano. Finally, we will make the last stop of the trip in the village of Machuca, a little town where the original Altiplanic architecture is reflected in its church. Return to your hotel.
Day 3 San Pedro Altiplanic Lagoons, Atacama Salt Lake and Tocona (B)
Departure from your hotel in a small group basis, along the international highway towards the Atacama Salt Flat; one of the largest in the world. In the area known as Soncor and the Chaxa Lagoon, you can observe the three species of native pink flamingos. Continue further within the Altiplano, reaching 4,300 meters above sea level. Arrive at the Miñique and Miscanti Lagoons, at the foothill of the Miñique and Miscanti volcanoes, with fantastic scenery of bluish waters arising from the background volcanoes. After this visit, we will return to Socaire for lunch at one of the rustic cooking places of the village, that still use the resources cultivated from the ancestral agricultural terraces. Finally, make a stop at the village of Toconao, where we will visit the main square, the bell tower built in 1750 made of cactus wood, mud and straw, and the church of San Lucas, both declared National Monuments since 1951. Return to your hotel.
Optional night tour to visit one of the astronomy areas to observe the night sky. Private bus picks up downtown on a nightly basis. Can be booked locally, approx. $36USD p/p
Day 4 San Pedro de Atacama (Moon Valley) (B)
Another of the classic sites of the area is included today with a visit to the Valley of the Moon, and the cultural archeological museum with preserved local mummies from ancient cultures, exceptionally preserved due to the dryness of the climate. Atacama boasts the 2nd driest climate in the world. The excursion follows the Cordillera de la Sal (Salt Mountain Range), where you will visit the Moon Valley (“Valle de la Luna”) that forms part of the National Flamingo Reserve. This unique place is famous for its natural mineral sculptures, one of them being “Las Tres Marías” (The Three Mary’s) formed by the wind erosion, resembling a lunar setting.
Next, visit Death Valley (“Valle de la Muerte”), a place that invites sand boarders to practice their favorite sport and sandy place with a particular geographical beauty. Its salt formations seem to be sculptures and works of art. Finally, end your trip with a magical sunset at the Kari Viewpoint, one of the highest points of the “Cordillera de la Sal”.
Day 5 Departure (B)
At leisure until your transfer for your onward flight.