The Atacama Desert is a desert plateau in South America covering a 1,000 km strip of land on the Pacific coast, west of the Andes Mountains.
20 pictures of Atacama Desert from JÃ´natas Tinoco, Diego Jimenez, USGS and other travelers
Why travel to the Atacama Desert?
The Atacama Desert, located in the northern part of Chile, is one of the most breathtaking and unique landscapes in the world. It is the driest non-polar desert on Earth, and its otherworldly landscapes have even been compared to the surface of Mars. This stunning destination offers a variety of activities, from stargazing in the crystal-clear skies to exploring the unique geological formations, salt flats, and geysers.
How to get there?
The most convenient way to reach the Atacama Desert is by flying to Calama's El Loa Airport (CJC), which is well-connected to Santiago, Chile's capital. From the airport, you can take a shuttle or bus to the town of San Pedro de Atacama, the gateway to the desert, which is about an hour and a half drive away.
What to book in advance?
It is recommended to book accommodation and guided tours in advance, especially during the high season (June to August and December to February). Many popular activities, like stargazing, visiting the Tatio Geysers, and exploring the Valley of the Moon, require a guided tour. Also, consider booking a rental car in advance if you prefer to explore the area independently.
What are the costs?
Accommodation in San Pedro de Atacama ranges from budget hostels to luxury hotels, with prices varying between $20 to $300 per night. Guided tours can cost anywhere from $30 to $150 per person, depending on the duration and type of activity. Meals in local restaurants typically range from $10 to $25 per person.
Best things to do
Some of the must-see attractions in the Atacama Desert include the Valley of the Moon, the Tatio Geysers, the Atacama Salt Flats, and the Cejar Lagoon. Stargazing is also a popular activity due to the region's high altitude and minimal light pollution. Adventure seekers can enjoy sandboarding, trekking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.
Where to eat?
1. Baltinache Restaurante: A cozy restaurant offering a variety of traditional Chilean dishes with a modern twist.
2. Adobe Restaurante: Known for its delicious wood-fired pizzas and local cuisine, Adobe also has a lovely outdoor seating area.
3. La Franchutería: A charming French bistro-style restaurant offering delightful breakfast and brunch options.
Where to stay?
1. Hostal Rural: A budget-friendly option with private and shared rooms, offering a comfortable and social atmosphere.
2. Terrantai Lodge: A mid-range boutique hotel with a beautiful courtyard and pool, located in the heart of San Pedro de Atacama.
3. Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa: A luxury option with stunning views, top-notch amenities, and all-inclusive packages for a more indulgent experience.
Off the beaten path
For a unique and lesser-known experience, visit the Rainbow Valley (Valle del Arcoiris), a hidden gem in the Atacama Desert. This remote area is characterized by its colorful rock formations and mineral deposits, creating a surreal landscape. The best way to reach the Rainbow Valley is by renting a car or joining a guided tour, as it is not easily accessible by public transportation.
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Discover more travel spots to explore around Atacama Desert️🏜️ Desert spots ️🏜️ Badlands spots 🌲 Ecoregion spots ⛰️ Mountain range spots 🛣️ Road trip spots 🌋 Stratovolcano spots 🌊 Ocean spots ❄️ Tundra spots 🏞️ Watercourse spots 🌋 Extinct volcano spots 🏖️ Beach spots
Stretching over 1000 km from the Pacific coast, from the north of Chile to the border with Peru and Bolivia, the Atacama, the most arid desert in the world, attracts more and more adventurers every year. Why is this? Because the region offers a natural setting teeming with life that emerges in the immensity, between valleys, volcanoes, sumptuous oases, lagoons and summits of the great cordillera on the horizon.
The Atacama Desert is a hyperarid region of South America located between the South Pacific Ocean and the central volcanic zone of the Andes, in northern Chile and southernmost Peru.
The Atacama is known to be one of the driest regions on EarthNote . Indeed, some areas can be completely without rainfall for more than 50 years. It is a sheltering desert wedged between the Atacama Ocean Trench and the Andes Mountains. It is located in the north of the country and covers the region of Arica and Parinacota, the region of Tarapacá, the region of Antofagasta and the north of the Atacama region.
The Atacama Desert forms a terrestrial ecoregion defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which belongs to the biome of deserts and xeric scrublands of the Neotropical ecozone. It includes the cities of Antofagasta, Calama, Arica, Iquique and Copiapó, all with more than 100,000 inhabitants.
To visit the Atacama Desert, you must first go to San Pedro de Atacama. Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta and Copiapó, as well as Calama have airports with daily domestic flights from Santiago de Chile. The closest airport to San Pedro is El Loa in Calama.
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