What to know about San Pedro de Atacama in Chile
It is an expensive town, very touristic, and full of tourist agencies everywhere.
It is important to be clear that the tap water cannot be drunk because it has many minerals, so it is important not only to buy water bottles, but also to stay hydrated since the weather is very hot and dry.
There are certain places where you can get discount for students and senior citizens, so it is advisable to come with some identification to prove this.
Are there toilets available on the tours?
There are restrooms in all national reserves and in places where you can take a swim. There are places to change your cloths and everything, but if you visit places where you do not pay an entrance fee, there may not be a toilet, so if there is any problem in this regard it is advisable to avoid for example going to red stone, where there aren’t toilets at all.
Rent a car in San Pedro de Atacama?
Most places can be reached on your own if you have or rent a car, but it is necessary to consider that the road has some complexity and someone inexperienced could have problems. It is also important to consider that in the tours is given some information about the places that you would not have access by going on your own.
Weather in San Pedro de Atacama and The Altiplanic or Bolivian Winter
It is important to consider the altiplanic winter, it occurs with great risk from the last days of January, until March.
In this period, storms are common and therefore, it is common for roads to be closed so people is not allowed from leaving the town.
In the months between June and September, winter occurs, where it is characterized by having large thermal oscillations so it is necessary to go with warm clothes in order to avoid dying of the cold. There is less chance of seeing flamingos too.
Where to eat in San Pedro de Atacama?
Among the best places, although a relatively expensive option, is “Las Delicias de Carmen” (Carmen’s delights), which is very rich and big.
On Caracoles Avenue, where the life of the town passes, there are also several places. “La Picada del Indio” is also recommended.
If you are looking for the cheapest, the best option that we can recommend, in the Licancabur street, for a very big menu of 3500 pesos, you can eat typical homemade Chilean food.
Accommodation in San Pedro de Atacama
In terms of accommodation in San Pedro de Atacama, there is only one campsite available, called the La casa del Sol Naciente (house of the rising sun), the rest would be hostels, cabins, and hotels. It is an easy town to travel on foot or by bicycle, which is easy to rent and can be used a lot because there are places very close to town so you can reach them very easy. You can also camp in the town of Toconao, although it is about 40 km from San Pedro going to Argentina. The offer of tours is smaller so it is likely that in San Pedro you can get better options.
What to see and what to do in the town of San Pedro de Atacama?
Among the things that we can highlight, it is the church of Gustavo Le Paige, who was a Jesuit priest born in Belgium who arrived in the town, and who became a great archaeologist in the area, in addition to promoting the construction of hospitals, schools, museums, roads and even discovering the famous moon valley, making it a fairly important figure for the town of San Pedro.
Recommended Tours in San Pedro de Atacama
Valle de la luna, Death Valley and Mars Valley are among the most visited by tourists, but in general terms, they are quite similar to each other.
Valley of the moon
It is a very interesting tour especially if you are interested in knowing more about Gustavo Le Paige, and it is very close to the town, so if you have little time you should reach it perfectly, even if the trip is done by bicycle. (Between 5 and 8 kms)
Altiplanic lagoons tour
It is the most recommended of all, where you can visit the Miscanti and Miñiques lagoons, both over 4000 meters high. They are freshwater lagoons, unlike the rest of the surrounding lagoons that come from the salt flats. This tour is very recommended, and you have to pay a small ticket too. To get there you can see the Atacama Salar on one side, which along with the Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia and the Burro Muerto Salar in Argentina, are the largest lithium reserves in the world with 93% of the world’s lithium.
In the Chaxa Lagoon, which is also visited on this tour, you can see up to three types of flamingos, and other birds. It also goes through a very beautiful forest of tamarugos, where breakfast is usually offered in the mornings. If you include Red Stones, which is a viewpoint of stones that acquire the red color due to the great presence of iron and the oxidation process, it becomes a full day tour, which includes the passage through the tropic of Capricorn, where In the summer solstice, the sun’s rays reach the earth in perfect 90 °. This means that if you are on December 21 at 12 noon, you will not cast a shadow anywhere. We assure you spectacular photos here.
This tour also includes a stop in the Town of Toconao (which means “Hidden place” in Kunza, the extinct Atacama language), which stands out because human settlements have been found where nomadic humans, with 10,000 years old, used this place as a rest between their travels. The bell tower of San Lucas stands out, and the Liparita stone, which is a white, light stone, which functions as a great insulator and is used largely in the houses of the city. Here you can try ice cream with fruits of the area, such as chañar, carob, rich, quince, among others. It is recommended to buy handicrafts in Toconao, where it is much cheaper than in San Pedro de Atacama. Along with Socaire, they are considered the Vergel Oasis, where the water is so pure and so rich that it allows the cultivation of vegetables. Something strange for the area.
If you are not interested in taking photos in the viewpoints with those amazing landscapes, it is recommended to take only the highland lagoons and Salar de Atacama tour, which is more relaxed in terms of distance, so you won’t be so tired at the end of the day.
Geysers of Tatio Tour
Here you reach an even higher point than with the Altiplanic lagoons, and it is important to wear warm clothes because it is a tour that must be done very early in the morning since there is more activity of the geysers. In winter the activity is even higher, but temperatures can reach -30 °C. Still, it is highly recommended. Here you can see how the earth expresses its energy, as it manifests.
There is a pool or lagoon with waters that come from the Geysers, which is why it is quite warm and nice to take swim. On the way down to the town, on the road it is possible to see llamas, vizcachas, vicuñas, flamingos and even, with a lot of luck, you can also see foxes and ñandús. You pass through the picturesque town of Machuca, where you can try an Anticucho or skewer of llama meat, or a fried empanada of goat cheese or beef. It is recommended to leave this activity at the end of the trip in order to avoid acclimatization problems with height.
Rainbow Valley Tour
Another highly recommended tour is the rainbow valley tour. It is a valley that is closer to the area of Calama, and that attracts due to the great volcanic activity that was in this area in the past and that is still present. This has resulted in the large presence of minerals, at the time of the uprisings of hills and mountains, each hill was associated more with a particular mineral which has made that each hill have a different color. Red by the oxidation of iron, green by hematite, yellow by sulfur, so the landscapes you will find will leave you breathless. The photos you take here are awesome too.
Laguna Cejar Tour and/or Hidden Lagoons Tour.
It is a tour with a very expensive entrance, in addition to the tour or transportation. It is one of the most popular, where you can bathe and float in the water because of the high salinity.
It’s also recommended the tour of the hidden lagoons, or the tour of the hidden lagoons of Baltinache. They are also ultra salty waters, where it is practically impossible to sink. They are a cheaper option because they are less known, and they are an incredible option in our opinion. These tours are recommended not to wear sandals due to the large amount of stones on the road. It is also recommended not to sink the head, because the very salty lagoon will cause discomfort, as they can irritate the eyes, affect digestion if swallowed, etc. It’s also included a cocktail in the sculpture known as the two-headed llama, to finish in the Licanantay viewpoint or the coyote stone (next door) watching the sunset. If you do any of these tours, it is essential to bring a lot of water, since the salt of the water, dehydrates the body.
Safe trip everyone!