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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 10 attractions in San Pedro de Atacama

#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
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
#4
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
#5
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
#6
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
#7
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
#8
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
#9
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
#10
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

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

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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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All about San Pedro de Atacama

Time Zone
CLT (UTC -3)

People Also Ask

What is San Pedro de Atacama known for?

San Pedro de Atacama is known as the gateway to the Atacama Desert, which is the driest place on earth. Travelers typically use this small town as a base for excursions to nearby attractions including the El Tatio Geysers, Valley of the Moon, and the Puritama Hot Springs.

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How many days should I spend in San Pedro de Atacama?

Five days is about right in San Pedro de Atacama. You can explore the small town (and adjust to the altitude) and take day trips to surrounding desert attractions such as the Valley of the Moon and El Tatio geysers, as well as the Rainbow Valley and Los Flamencos National Reserve.

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What activities are there in San Pedro de Atacama?

While most people visit San Pedro de Atacama for the purpose of taking trips to nearby attractions, the town itself has appeal. Check out the 17th-century church Iglesia San Pedro; take a wander through its adobe streets; and have dinner at one of the town’s live music spots.

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How old is San Pedro de Atacama?

San Pedro de Atacama is believed to be at least 11,000 years old. You can learn about the earliest inhabitants of the area (the Indigenous Atacama people, also called Atacameño) by visiting the Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological Museum located just off San Pedro’s plaza.

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Can you drink tap water in San Pedro de Atacama?

No. Tap water is not suitable for drinking in San Pedro de Atacama, due to high levels of contamination from nearby mines. Be sure to stock up on bottled water before heading out into the desert on a tour—you will need it and may not find anywhere to buy it.

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Is San Pedro de Atacama expensive?

Yes. San Pedro de Atacama is relatively expensive compared to other places in Chile and South America. Because the town is popular with tourists, costs tend to be higher than you might expect. Typically the biggest expenses are hotels, food, and drink—save money by booking tours that include meals.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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