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San Pedro de Atacama
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San Pedro de Atacama Chile

The world’s driest non-polar desert, San Pedro de Atacama attracts nature lovers with its otherworldly landscape of volcanoes, valleys and salt flats. Suited to both hiking and heritage seeking, it’s worth hiring a car to explore the luna dunes of the Rio Grande’s Moon Valley, the El Tatio Geyser and Peidra Rojas – a rocky viewpoint where you can enjoy panoramic views of the region. You’ll also find many natural lagoons, where you can float on the salty waters, mix with tourists and spot flamingos.

As one of Chile’s lesser known tourist destinations, San Pedro de Atacama’s ancient history is not something to pass up. First settled by the Atacamos people around the Puna de Atacama oasis, the Andes town was once a centre of artisan crafts like basketmaking and ceramics. Formerly part of Bolivia and the location of the Battle of the Rio Grande, examples of the region’s military history can be found at the Quito Fort while in modern times, Atacama has been associated with mining. Visit the abandoned 1930s boomtown of Chacabuco Nitrate to see preserved remains of shops and vehicles or spend your afternoons enjoying century-old churches and archeological sites within the town itself.

Compared to Chile’s capital, Santiago, San Pedro de Atacama can be difficult to get to, with the nearest airport approximately 100 kilometers away in Calama. Therefore, it’s worth planning your visit in advance to ensure you make the most of your time.


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