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Things to do in San Pedro de Atacama

Things to do in  San Pedro de Atacama

Welcome to San Pedro de Atacama

The small town of San Pedro de Atacama serves as a convenient gateway to the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places in the world. The vast desert covers more than 100,000 kilometers and is home to arid landscapes reminiscent of Mars. For lovers of natural landscapes, day trip options are varied and appealing. Combine a visit to Moon Valley, so-called due to its lunar-like appearance, with the El Tatio Geysers and the Puritama Hot Springs. Other highlights include Rainbow Valley (Valle Arcoiris), the Atacama Salt Lake, and the Ojos del Salar, a salt-saturated lagoon that allows you to float unaided. At Los Flamencos National Reserve (Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos), pink flamingos contrast with the vivid blue water of Chaxa Lagoon and the Altiplanic Lagoon, making the park a top draw for nature lovers and photographers. If you’re a history buff, tours to the archaeological site of Pukará de Quitor reveal a pre-Columbian fortress, while in Tulor one finds ruins of the oldest settlement in the area. In the inhabited villages of Toconao and Socaire, a beautiful church tower and agricultural terraces provide a dose of local culture.

Top attractions in San Pedro de Atacama for Fall

#1
Moon Valley (Valle de la Luna)

Moon Valley (Valle de la Luna)

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With its parched desert plains and wind-sculpted topography, it’s easy to see how Moon Valley (Valle de la Luna) earned its name. The sharp sandstone peaks, glittering salt deposits, and crater-like depressions make for some dramatic photographs, and watching the sunset over the valley is an unforgettable experience.More
#2
El Tatio Geysers

El Tatio Geysers

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Plumes of steam from more than 60 geysers and hundreds of fumaroles erupt several feet into the air at the geyser field of El Tatio, high in the Andes in northern Chile. El Tatio isn’t the largest geyser field in the world, but with a backdrop of snowcapped mountains, it’s perhaps the most picturesque.More
#3
Altiplanic Lagoons

Altiplanic Lagoons

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Part of Los Flamencos National Reserve, the high-altitude Altiplanic Lagoons are nestled between the Andean peaks of Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru. The Miscanti and Miñique lakes are managed by an indigenous community located in Socaire, a town often visited for its handmade crafts and historic church.More
#4
Cejar Lagoon (Laguna Cejar)

Cejar Lagoon (Laguna Cejar)

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If you’ve ever wanted to swim in the desert or experience the buoyancy of the Dead Sea, a visit to the Cejar Lagoon should be high on your to-do list. A desert sinkhole at the heart of the Atacama, the lagoon is famed for its salt-rich waters.More
#5
Los Flamencos National Reserve (Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos)

Los Flamencos National Reserve (Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos)

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Covering 286 square miles (740 square kilometres), Los Flamencos National Reserve (Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos) is home to some of the most stunning scenery in the Atacama Desert. Between the Andes and Chile’s Pacific coast, the park has glittering salt flats, wind-sculpted moonscapes, and high-altitude lagoons surrounded by wild flamingos.More
#6
Chaxa Lagoon (Laguna Chaxa)

Chaxa Lagoon (Laguna Chaxa)

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Part of the Los Flamencos National Reserve, and its most easily accessible entry point, Chaxa Lagoon (Laguna Chaxa is situated in the middle of the Salar de Atacama. Its spectacularly beautiful setting is the best place in Chile to see flamingos; you can see three of the five known species (James, Chilean, and Andean at this salt lake.More
#7
Atacama Desert

Atacama Desert

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As the driest place on earth, you’d expect the Atacama Desert to resemble a barren wasteland. Instead, the vast and arid landscape offers plenty to see and explore, including blue lagoons, salt flats, and active geysers—and also offers some of the world’s best stargazing opportunities.More
#8
Puritama Hot Springs (Termas Baños de Puritama)

Puritama Hot Springs (Termas Baños de Puritama)

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In the middle of the driest desert in the world, you can enjoy the idyllic experience of soaking in the thermal waters of the Puritama Hot Springs (Termas Baños de Puritama. Located in a canyon, the surrounding volcanic Andes pour forth their heat into a series of eight large steaming pools.More
#9
Rainbow Valley (Valle del Arcoiris)

Rainbow Valley (Valle del Arcoiris)

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An easy day trip from San Pedro de Atacama, the Rainbow Valley (Valle del Arcoiris stands out for the vibrant colors of its reddish, beige, green, and white earth, the result of mineral deposits left over thousands of years and the wind that has carved interesting shapes, rocky spires, and small canyons into the valley.More
#10
Atacama Salt Flats (Salar de Atacama)

Atacama Salt Flats (Salar de Atacama)

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Atacama Salt Flats (Salar de Atacama), a salt deposit–coated lake, lies amid the Atacama Desert plains, framed by distant Andes peaks. Stretching more than 40,000 square miles (100,000 square kilometers), it’s one of the largest salt flats and the largest lithium reserve in the world.More
#11
Tebenquiche Lagoon

Tebenquiche Lagoon

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Tebenquiche Lagoon (Laguna Tebenquiche is a vast salt lake with a unique appearance. The lake is so shallow that its underlying lunar-like salt bed is clearly visible from the surface. Since there is so little water and often so little movement, the lake acts as a mirror, reflecting the surrounding mountains.More
#12
Church of San Pedro de Atacama

Church of San Pedro de Atacama

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San Pedro de Atacama’s most notable building is the Church of San Pedro de Atacama, which keeps watch over the town’s busy Plaza de Armas. Built in 1744, it’s a remarkable example of a Spanish colonial church, built using traditional adobe bricks and surrounded by a crenellated wall, all painted white.More
#13
Pukara de Quitor

Pukara de Quitor

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The pre-Columbian Pukará de Quitor National Monument overlooks the fertile Río San Pedro valley from atop a strategic bluff. Its serpentine rows of thick, stone walls defended the verdant oasis's bounty since around 1100 AD. Today, the fortress's impressive architecture and historic significance make it one of Chile's most important archaeological sites.More
#14
Tulor Village

Tulor Village

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Despite its altitude and aridity, the Atacama Desert has hosted human settlement for thousands of years. The ruins of the village of Tulor are one of the most tantalizing archaeological clues left behind by some of its earliest settlers. One of the oldest archaeological sites in Chile, it dates back to 300 BC, according to carbon dating.More
#15
Ojos del Salar

Ojos del Salar

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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.More

Trip ideas

Top Archaeological Sights in San Pedro de Atacama

Top Archaeological Sights in San Pedro de Atacama

How to Spend 1 Day in San Pedro de Atacama

How to Spend 1 Day in San Pedro de Atacama

How to Spend 2 Days in San Pedro de Atacama

How to Spend 2 Days in San Pedro de Atacama

Recent reviews from experiences in San Pedro de Atacama

star-5
Chiles' best night out!
madeleine_h, Dec 2019
Astronomy Tour in San Pedro de Atacama
Absolutely loved this trip to see the stars.
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