San Pedro de Atacama travel guide

San Pedro de Atacama Tourism | San Pedro de Atacama Guide

You're Going to Love San Pedro de Atacama

San Pedro De Atacama is a town in the north of Chile. It is one of Chile's most popular tourist destinations, with visitors attracted by the stunning landscapes in the area and the many archaeological sites.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit San Pedro de Atacama

1. Museo del Meteorito

This museum has a fascinating collection of meteorites and information on how to hunt them in the desert.

2. Los Flamencos National Reserve

The reserve is known as Chile's most diverse and is a haven for nature lovers.

3. Geysers del Tatio

Located 12,000 feet above sea level, here you'll find the third-largest geyser site on earth, with more than 80 active geysers.

4. Valle de la Luna

The "Moon Valley" is an otherworldly landscape of caves, craters, gorges, and salt mines.

5. Church of San Pedro De Atacama

This church is a national monument and a fine example of colonial architecture using adobe.

What to do in San Pedro de Atacama

1. Breathtaking Sunrises

At nearly 14,000 feet above sea level, the Geysers del Tatio are among the highest in the world. The ideal time to visit is sunrise, when the light is at its most breathtaking. Along the way, visitors can observe the wild vicuñas, an endangered Andean camel. Also on the route is the Putana river with its numerous bird species, as well as vizcachas, similar to rabbits or squirrels. Other highlights include the Machuca with its sulfur mines and flamingos.

2. Ride Through The Canyon

A breathtaking outlook, the Valle de la Luna can be accessed by car or bike. A magnificent place to watch the sunrise or sunset, the valley is formed in a salt mountain range, featuring clinal and anticlinal formations, as well as stone canyon walls and rock salt strata. Other highlights include the Grand Crater, the Salt Canyon, the Salt Caves and the Cari Viewpoint. Bike rides are usually 10 miles, though drivers are usually willing to lend a hand if you get stuck or tired. Also, bike rental shops will offer headlights, tail reflectors and helmets, as well as emergency kits.

3. Local Fauna And Fare

Located in the village of Toconao, known for its church and bell tower, Lagunas Altiplanicas features Laguna Chaxa, a national park that boasts three species of flamingos, as well as the Miscanti and Miñiques lagoons, which features a variety of local fauna. In Socaire, a small hamlet, visitors are welcome to enjoy lunch or breakfast, which includes home-grown potatoes, big beans, carrots, and quinoa. Visitors are advised to wear long sleeves and pants, as well as sunglasses since the light reflects brightly off the salt pan.

4. Relaxing Saltwater Swim

On the northern tip of the Atacama salt pan, Laguna Cejar offers spectacular views of the Andes, as well as the chance to bathe in the salt water lakes. Tours includes visits to the Cejar and Piedra lagoons, as well as Ojos del Salar and Lake Tebinquinche. Guests can enjoy a cocktail or pisco sour at the end of the visit, as well as admire the sunset over Lake Tebinquinche, which reflects the changing colors of the surrounding mountains. Again, guests are advised to wear protective gear to guard against the sun and lower temperatures. Also, the high alcohol content of the pisco sour can be deceiving, so guests are encouraged to drink slowly.

5. Natural Hot Springs

Known as the Hot Springs, the Puritama is actually a warm river with temperatures at around 91ºF. Clear and clean, the river is home to colorful rainbow trout. Located at Hotel Explora, a luxury establishment with elegant accommodations, the site offers spectacular views of the ancient agricultural terraces, enormous stone walls and cacti. With eight artificial pools made from volcanic rocks, visitors can enjoy a hydro-massage in the waterfall or simply a soak in the crystalline water.

1. Breathtaking Sunrises

At nearly 14,000 feet above sea level, the Geysers del Tatio are among the highest in the world. The ideal time to visit is sunrise, when the light is at its most breathtaking. Along the way, visitors can observe the wild vicuñas, an endangered Andean camel. Also on the route is the Putana river with its numerous bird species, as well as vizcachas, similar to rabbits or squirrels. Other highlights include the Machuca with its sulfur mines and flamingos.

2. Ride Through The Canyon

A breathtaking outlook, the Valle de la Luna can be accessed by car or bike. A magnificent place to watch the sunrise or sunset, the valley is formed in a salt mountain range, featuring clinal and anticlinal formations, as well as stone canyon walls and rock salt strata. Other highlights include the Grand Crater, the Salt Canyon, the Salt Caves and the Cari Viewpoint. Bike rides are usually 10 miles, though drivers are usually willing to lend a hand if you get stuck or tired. Also, bike rental shops will offer headlights, tail reflectors and helmets, as well as emergency kits.

3. Local Fauna And Fare

Located in the village of Toconao, known for its church and bell tower, Lagunas Altiplanicas features Laguna Chaxa, a national park that boasts three species of flamingos, as well as the Miscanti and Miñiques lagoons, which features a variety of local fauna. In Socaire, a small hamlet, visitors are welcome to enjoy lunch or breakfast, which includes home-grown potatoes, big beans, carrots, and quinoa. Visitors are advised to wear long sleeves and pants, as well as sunglasses since the light reflects brightly off the salt pan.

4. Relaxing Saltwater Swim

On the northern tip of the Atacama salt pan, Laguna Cejar offers spectacular views of the Andes, as well as the chance to bathe in the salt water lakes. Tours includes visits to the Cejar and Piedra lagoons, as well as Ojos del Salar and Lake Tebinquinche. Guests can enjoy a cocktail or pisco sour at the end of the visit, as well as admire the sunset over Lake Tebinquinche, which reflects the changing colors of the surrounding mountains. Again, guests are advised to wear protective gear to guard against the sun and lower temperatures. Also, the high alcohol content of the pisco sour can be deceiving, so guests are encouraged to drink slowly.

5. Natural Hot Springs

Known as the Hot Springs, the Puritama is actually a warm river with temperatures at around 91ºF. Clear and clean, the river is home to colorful rainbow trout. Located at Hotel Explora, a luxury establishment with elegant accommodations, the site offers spectacular views of the ancient agricultural terraces, enormous stone walls and cacti. With eight artificial pools made from volcanic rocks, visitors can enjoy a hydro-massage in the waterfall or simply a soak in the crystalline water.

Where to Eat in San Pedro de Atacama

La Pica Del Indio on Tocopilla serves local dishes and is renowned as one of the best restaurants in town. La Estaka on Caracoles specializes in Latin dishes and is vegetarian friendly.

When to visit San Pedro de Atacama

San Pedro de Atacama in July
Estimated hotel price
$44
1 night at 3-star hotel
San Pedro de Atacama in July
Estimated hotel price
$44
1 night at 3-star hotel

San Pedro De Atacama has a cold desert climate, with average daytime temperatures ranging from 47 to 62 degrees. It can get very cold at night during winter and visitors should be aware that mild altitude sickness is a possibility due to the town's 8,000ft elevation.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Celcius (°C)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to San Pedro de Atacama

Plane

There is no airport in San Pedro De Atacama. The nearest airport is El Loa Airport (CJC) at Calama, around 70 miles to the northwest. The airport has regular flights from Santiago and some services from other cities in Chile. A minibus transfer to San Pedro De Atacama will cost CLP$12,000.

Car

San Pedro De Atacama lies on the main road from Argentina, which crosses the Paso de Jama. The road is paved as is the road from Santiago, but inexperienced drivers should take care when driving at altitude.

Bus

San Pedro De Atacama has good bus services from cities across Chile and also connections from Jujuy and Salta in Argentina. The fare from Calama is CLP$2,500.

Airports near San Pedro de Atacama

Airlines serving San Pedro de Atacama

Delta
Excellent (3,064 reviews)
Iberia
Good (925 reviews)
LATAM Airlines
Good (783 reviews)
Sky Airline
Good (32 reviews)
JetSMART
Okay (14 reviews)

Where to stay in San Pedro de Atacama

Centro - San Pedro De Atacama is a small and compact town, with the center comprising 12 small blocks. Caracoles is the main street and is pedestrianized. Here, you will find the town's main shopping areas, attractions like the Iglesia San Pedro De Atacama, and the Museo del Meteorito.

Popular Neighborhoods in San Pedro De Atacama

Calama - this is a larger town to the northwest, which has an interesting frontier feel and more shopping and accommodation.

Toconao - this is a small, quaint village with a pretty square, just south of San Pedro De Atacama.

Where to stay in popular areas of San Pedro de Atacama

Most booked hotels in San Pedro de Atacama

Terrantai Lodge
Excellent (9.4, Excellent reviews)
$375+
Hotel Cumbres San Pedro de Atacama
Excellent (8.7, Excellent reviews)
$443+
Hotel Diego de Almagro San Pedro De Atacama
Good (7.9, Good reviews)
$166+
Noi Casa Atacama
Poor (0, Poor reviews)
$526+
See all hotels

How to Get Around San Pedro de Atacama

Public Transportation

San Pedro De Atacama has no public transport system but is small enough to comfortably explore on foot.

Taxi

Taxis in San Pedro De Atacama are rare but can be booked from your hotel. Expect to pay an initial fare of CLP$400 and then CLP$3,000 per mile, but you can also negotiate a fixed fare based on your destination.

Car

Roads in and around San Pedro De Atacama can be in poor condition. Driving into the mountains or the desert also requires care. Car rental is available from El Loa Airport from CLP$34,000.

The Cost of Living in San Pedro de Atacama

Shopping Streets

There is basic shopping on Caracoles and local crafts can be purchased in the museum shop.

Groceries and Other

A quart of milk in San Pedro De Atacama costs CLP$717 and a loaf of bread is CLP$867.