Ojos del Salar
One of a few salt lagoons dotted along the arid plains of the Atacama Desert, the Ojos del Salar (Salt Eyes are so-called for their unusual appearance. The pair of small, perfectly round lakes appear like a pair of deep-blue eyes peering out from the desert floor and are one of the area’s most photographed sites.
Walk around the Ojos del Salar lagoons and admire the natural wonders up close as you gaze down across the still waters. If you dare, jump off the banks into the cool waters and swim in one of the salty lagoons—a unique experience for strong swimmers. Visit the lagoon on a half-day tour from San Pedro de Atacama or combine it with other lagoons on a full-day tour. A popular itinerary includes a stop at the Cejar Lagoon on the way to Ojos del Salar, before continuing to nearby Tebinquiche Lagoon to watch the sunset.
Things to know before you go
- Pack sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water, and bring your swimsuit if you want to swim. Pack warm clothing for the evening as temperatures can drop quickly, even in summer.
- There is no admission fee.
- Swimming is recommended for confident swimmers only. You must jump in and climb out up the natural banks, and there is no shallow water.
- The desert has limited cell phone service, and only a few San Pedro de Atacama hotels offer Wi-Fi.
- The desert terrain around the Ojos del Salar can be uneven and loose in places, which may limit access for wheelchairs and strollers.
How to get there
The Ojos del Salar lies in the Atacama Desert, about 24 miles (38 kilometers) south of San Pedro de Atacama. Regular taxis, shared taxis, and tours run from San Pedro de Atacama to the lake, taking about 40 minutes to get there.
When to get there
Summer (December–February) is the most popular time to explore, with warm weather fit for swimming in the lagoons. Winter (June–August) visits can be equally rewarding, although temperatures can plummet below freezing at night.
Visiting the Cejar Lagoon
Almost all tours to Ojos del Salar include a visit to the Cejar Lagoon, which lies along the main route from San Pedro de Atacama. The lagoon is notable for its salt-rich waters, with a salt concentration of around 20%, rivalling that of the Dead Sea. Swim in the lagoon to experience the unique buoyancy and find yourself floating effortlessly on the surface. Both lagoons form part of the vast Atacama Salt Lake (Salar de Atacama), one of the world’s largest reserves of salt and lithium.
- Los Flamencos National Reserve (Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos)
- Atacama Salt Flats (Salar de Atacama)
- Tebenquiche Lagoon
- Atacama Desert
- Tulor Village
- Church of San Pedro de Atacama
- Institute of Archaeological Research and R. P. G. Le Page Museum (Instituto de Investigacio
- El Tatio Geysers
- Rainbow Valley (Valle del Arcoiris)
- Pukara de Quitor
- Cejar Lagoon (Laguna Cejar)
- Moon Valley (Valle de la Luna)
- Chaxa Lagoon (Laguna Chaxa)
- Puritama Hot Springs (Termas Baños de Puritama)