No Chilean travel itinerary would be complete without a trip to the magical landscapes of San Pedro de Atacama, and while one cannot deny that it is a ‘tourist’ attraction, it is so for a reason.
A region rich in copper and quartz, San Pedro de Atacama boasts towering volcanoes, steaming geysers, intensely coloured lagoons, vast white salt lakes, and ethereal rock formations that you simply will not find anywhere else in the world. Its spectacular scenery is its greatest draw, and whether you love photography, or simply prefer to surround yourself in natural beauty, this tiny town will not disappoint.
If you are heading to Chile, or indeed South America anytime soon, here are 7 reasons why San Pedro de Atacama should feature on your itinerary…
- It’s Accessible
Despite being incredibly remote, San Pedro de Atacama is just over 100km from the city of Calama, and there are buses that run the route several times per day. Alternatively, if you are coming from Bolivia, you can take a bus from Uyuni directly to San Pedro. It will take you about 10 hours, but the scenery will take your breath away.
- Amazing Photography
You don’t have to be a professional to take great pictures in San Pedro de Atacama, the landscapes make it easy for you, but if you are a keen photographer, you may just think you’ve died and gone to heaven!
- There’s so much to do!
There are so many wonderful attractions surrounding San Pedro that it you could easily spend a week there visiting all the major sites. Budget wise, you’ll probably be looking at 2 – 3 days (it’s expensive), so make sure you plan your activities before you arrive so you can see as much as possible.
- Accommodations to suit every budget
San Pedro de Atacama is not a budget holiday destination by any means, but it does cater for everyone, with luxurious 5 star hotels and almost affordable backpackers. As the town is so small, the best value accommodations get booked up well in advance – so book early!
- You can swim in steaming geysers at 4,320m above sea level
We kid you not, at Geyser del Tatio you can strip down to your swimwear and take a splash in natural steaming pools at over 4,000m above sea level. Most tours visit early in the morning when the geysers are at their most active, and the temperatures are just hovering above zero, so be prepared to brave the chill if you are up for a swim!
- View local wildlife at Lagunas Miscanti y Miñiques
Lagoons so blue they make your eyes water, the magnificent lagoons of Miscanti and Miñiques are easily accessible from San Pedro de Atacama, and they are often abundant with pink flamingos. Foxes and vicunas can also be found here, so it’s a great spot for wildlife lovers.
- It combines beautifully with other South American destinations
San Pedro de Atacama is the perfect starting point for your Chilean adventure holiday, but it combines beautifully with other South American destinations too. You can easily cross to Bolivia and Argentina by local bus, so the possibilities for intrepid travel are endless!