San Pedro de Atacama

A World-Class Desert Destination

The narrow streets of this old town are home to the mysticism of ancestral cultures and all the trappings of modern tourism. This unique blend of past and present has made San Pedro one of the most photographed places in specialized journals.

Located 102 km from Calama (the closest city), the land around San Pedro de Atacama is primarily owned by native peoples whose focus is agriculture and tourism. Its old town square features a church (built in 1774) that reveals some of local architectural style: cactus wood details, adobe construction and leather-bound algarrobo beams. Nearby, you’ll find the R.P. Gustavo Le Paige Archeological Museum, where you can marvel at mummies and everyday objects that offer a glimpse into the richness of the area’s past.

The town is filled with artisanal crafts stands where you can buy knit goods, jewelry and herbs, including coca leaves that can be used to combat altitude sickness on visits to the El Tatio Geysers. You can enjoy a wonderful view of the geothermic field at sunrise from 4,300 meters above sea level. The geysers are one of the area’s most popular tourist attractions. On the way back, treat yourself to a relaxing visit to the Puritama Hot Springs. Pure delight.

Heading southeast from San Pedro, you’ll come across a number of attractions: the town of Toconao, the Atacama Salt Flat and the Chaxa Lagoon, which is home to flamingoes and other bird species.

A few destinations are best visited at sunset, such as Valle de la Luna and Valle de la Muerte. Both offer gorgeous shadows and shifting colors that make them perfect for photography. You can reach both places from San Pedro by bike.

All of these sites are part of the Los Flamencos National Reserve, whose nearly 74,000 hectares are divided into seven sectors, each of which contains different natural settings. You can explore all of them on guided tours.

San Pedro de Atacama offers a host of pubs and restaurants that will tempt you with their excellent cuisine and bring a day of tours and spectacular sites to a pleasant close.

Come nightfall, there’s nothing better than awaiting sleep surrounded by stars and the songs of owls.

Featured Destinations of San Pedro de Atacama

Touristic Services

Accommodation Car Rental
Intercity Transportation Tourism Agencies

Getting There

en avion
By Plane
From Santiago to Calama (2h). There are no direct flights to San Pedro de Atacama. You’ll find transfer service, taxis, and Jeep and truck rentals at the airport.
bus
By Bus
Buses depart Calama for San Pedro de Atacama every two hours. The terminals are located on Calle Granaderoes in the northeast and on Calle Balmaceda right across from the railroad station.
en auto
By Car
From Calama, take Route 23 east (102 km). The road is paved and in good condition.
From Santiago to Calama, take Route 5 north until it forks at Carmen Alto. From there, take Route 25 towards the northeast (1,574 km).

 

Activities that we recommend

Tips

Appropriate Attire Visiting the El Tatio Geysers Camping
Generally speaking, the temperatures in San Pedro rise rapidly before noon (passing 20ºC) and can reach lows of 0ºC in the morning and at night. Make sure you bring warm clothing, especially if you plan on visiting high-altitude sites like the El Tatio Geysers. Here it’s important to follow your guide’s instructions and the signs that show the safest places to stand. The ground at El Tatio is a form of crust that isn’t always stable. Watch your step! If you plan on camping, you should visit during spring or summer. The nighttime cold can be difficult to handle in winter unless you have specialized equipment. San Pedro is not particularly cheap or varied when it comes to supplies for solo tourism. If you’re looking to save money, do your shopping in Calama.
Lodging in San Pedro    
San Pedro offers hostels and hotels for all budgets. If you’re visiting during high season (especially between December and March), it’s a good idea to make reservations at least one month in advance. There are luxury hotels with spas, fine dining and varied expedition programs.

Travelers and their stories in San Pedro de Atacama

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