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San Pedro de Atacama Guide: Top Activities & Attractions

San Pedro de Atacama

The mesmerizing San Pedro de Atacama region in Chile is a hidden gem tucked away amidst the vast expanse of the Atacama Desert. As the sun sets, casting the sky in shades of orange and purple, the desert comes alive with a sense of magic and mystery. But it’s not just the stunning scenery that attracts travelers to this remote area—it’s the thrill of adventure, the chance to venture off the beaten path and into the unknown. Whether you’re exploring the otherwordly landscapes of Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon) or soaking in the clear waters of Lake Baltinachi, every moment in San Pedro de Atacama offers a chance to experience the wonders of nature.

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Your Oasis in the Desert: NOI Casa Atacama Hotel

To truly immerse yourself in the splendors of the Atacama Desert, San Pedro serves as the ideal hub. This enchanting town greets you with open arms and a vibrant ambiance. The locals, known for their exceptional friendliness and fluency in English, infuse the city with a welcoming and hospitable spirit. Amidst this lively atmosphere lies the NOI Casa Atacama Hotel.

Nestled in the rugged desert landscape, this hotel offers a haven of comfort, warmth, and luxury. Combining a cozy homelike feel with sustainable design, this boutique hotel provides a sanctuary for tired travelers. Bright and spacious guest rooms and suites feature indigenous artwork and furnishings, allowing you to unwind on your private terrace and bask in the serenity of the desert surroundings.

Indulge Your Taste Buds at Franchuteria Bakery

Once you are ready to leave your hotel, before you set off on your desert adventures, start your day at Franchuteria Bakery. A lovely cafe where French-inspired cuisine meets Chilean flavors. Here you can treat yourself to freshly baked pastries and culinary delights, to help you on your way to face the ancient desert.

From flaky croissants filled with local cheeses to savory quiches teeming with Andean vegetables, every dish at Franchuteria is a blend of culinary expertise and cultural influences. Whether seeking a leisurely breakfast or a cozy afternoon retreat, Franchuteria offers a welcoming break where you can experience a taste of France amidst the stunning landscapes of the Atacama Desert. 

Food at Franchuteria Bakery, Chile.

A peek at the food served at Franchuteria Bakery.

Savor the Flavors of Chile at Adobe and La Casona Restaurants

After a day of exploration, you can choose between many restaurants in San Pedro.

Adobe Restaurant is one of the most popular places in San Pedro. This restaurant offers delicious Chilean and international cuisine dishes. As live music plays, you can dine next to a big fireplace. The restaurant has an ambiance that mirrors the hospitality of its surroundings. Choose from a wide variety of dishes created from locally sourced ingredients, each one a tribute to the rich culinary heritage of the region.

Alternatively, you can visit La Casona restaurant, located on Caracoles Street in the historic center. Enjoy traditional Chilean dishes, along with vegan and vegetarian options under clear, starry skies. Every night, live performances spice up dinner with music and dancing.

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Embark on an Adventure to El Tatio Geysers

When in the Atacama desert, a visit to the El Tatio Geysers is a must. Located about an hour’s drive from San Pedro, this trip takes you through the rough terrain of the Atacama Desert, leading you to a surreal landscape where towering geysers erupt in a display of steam and water. Upon arriving at the El Tatio Geysers, friendly locals will welcome you.

As you drive to the central parking area, you’ll be surrounded by numerous active geysers emitting a strong smell. At an altitude of 4,300 m.a.s.l., the thin air might make breathing a bit difficult, so take your time and soak in the awe-inspiring sights. Surrounded by towering mountains and dramatic scenery, El Tatio Geysers offers a unique and unforgettable spectacle. It’s the perfect destination for those looking to venture off the beaten path and immerse themselves in the vastness and stillness of nature. 

Tatio Geysers, Chile.

Tatio Geysers.

Discover the Serenity of Laguna Baltinache

Another must-see destination is Laguna Baltinache, which is also an hour’s drive awayHidden away in the vast landscapes that seem to stretch on endlessly, lie a series of crystalline saltwater lagoons that create a serene oasis along the tough terrain. Dive into the clear, blue waters and take in the breathtaking beauty of this natural wonder. 

Upon arrival, you’ll be met with a scene straight out of a dream: pristine blue waters reflecting the sky, surrounded by shimmering salt flats and distant Andean peaks. A visit to Laguna Baltinache is an experience that stays with you long after you leave, a testament to Earth’s ability to amaze and inspire. 

And if you’re feeling adventurous, you’ll have the opportunity to swim in the lake, despite its high salt and mineral levels. The density of the water gently pushes your body toward the surface, creating a truly incredible sensation of weightlessness. While the initial chill and saltiness might be surprising, you’ll soon find yourself immersed in a place of peace and calmness. Just remember to limit your time in the water to a maximum of 20 minutes to protect your skin.

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Laguna Baltinache, Chile

Nick, our intern, at Laguna Baltinache.

Witness the Geological Marvels of Piedras Rojas and Lake Miscanti

Venture further into the wilderness to discover the geological wonders of Piedras Rojas and Lake Miscanti. Just an hour’s drive away lies the opportunity to witness these two marvels of nature. To gain entry to this region, head to the remote village of Socaire, where you can conveniently purchase tickets on the side of the road in the heart of town. As you set off, you’ll be greeted by one of the most magnificent views across the Atacama Desert. Both locations sit at a staggering altitude of 4,000 m.a.s.l.

Piedras Rojas stands as a geological masterpiece within the Los Flamencos National Reserve. Its landscape of crimson-hued rocks and turquoise lagoons captures the imagination. The towering red rocks, sculpted by millennia of wind and water erosion, offer a glimpse into Earth’s ancient history. A tip for adventurers: As you navigate the lunar-like terrain, be prepared for chilly temperatures by packing warm clothes to fully enjoy this sensational sight.

Within the same reserve, Lake Miscanti awaits, offering pristine alpine beauty against a backdrop of towering Andean peaks. As you approach the shoreline, a vibrant tapestry of colors greets you, from the deep blue hues of the lake to the golden grasses swaying in the breeze against rust-colored mountains.

Lake Miscanti, Chile

Lake Miscanti.

A paradise for birdwatchers, Lake Miscanti is home to a diverse array of bird species, including Andean flamingos and Andean gulls, adding to the allure of this remote wilderness. Whether you choose to hike along scenic trails winding around the lake’s edge or simply take a moment to absorb this paradise, a visit to Lake Miscanti promises a unique experience.

Experience the Otherworldly Beauty of Valle de la Luna

And lastly, a trip to San Pedro de Atacama wouldn’t be complete without exploring the otherworldly beauty of Valle de la Luna, also known as the Valley of the Moon. This dreamscape of jagged rock formations, deep ravines, and rippling sand dunes, is a place where visitors can journey back in time by following winding trails that lead to panoramic viewpoints of the surrounding desert.

Getting to this destination is surprisingly easy, with no rough sand roads to drive through. Once you enter the area after purchasing your tickets, you’ll drive your car through the moon-like rocks, stopping at various points along the way to admire the incredible scenery. It truly feels like stepping onto another planet.

Moon Valley, Chile.

The Moon Valley.

Going on an expedition in the San Pedro de Atacama region is an experience you will never forget. Plan your adventure with our Chile tours and delve into the awe-inspiring landscapes of the Atacama Desert. Connect with our seasoned travel specialists today to craft your bespoke Chilean escapade!

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