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The popularity of this adobe precordillera oasis stems from its position in the heart of some of northern Chile's most spectacular scenery. A short drive away lies the country's largest salt flat, its edges crinkled by volcanoes (symmetrical Licancábur, at 5916m, looms closest to the village). Here too are fields of steaming geysers, a host of otherworldly rock formations and weird layer-cake landscapes.
San Pedro itself, 106km southeast of Calama via paved Chile 23, is quite small, but it attracts hordes of travelers. Despite the high prices and tourist-agency touts, there's undeniable allure to this desert village with its picturesque adobe streets, laid-back residents and music-filled eateries.
The best time of the year to visit it:
Spring-Summer (from October to March). San Pedro de Atacama is mostly visited during these seasons for its warm weather, lower temperature variation and a few rainfalls (from January to April) which result from the phenomenon called Bolivian or altiplanic winter.
Day 1 Calama/ San Pedro de Atacama
Tourists are picked up from El Loa airport and taken to San Pedro village. The distance from the airport to town, situated at an altitude of 3.100 meters, is of 65 miles. On the way to the hotel, visitors will go through the Domeyko Cordillera, Cordillera de la Sal, El Llano de la Paciencia (Patience Plain), until getting to the Oasis.
Day 2 San Pedro de Atacama- Valley of the Moon
No excursion in the morning. Enjoy a relaxed breakfast in the hotel or the local coffee shops while admiring the scenery of a small and warm town.
Afternoon excursion to Valley of the moon. The Cordillera de la Sal is characterized by its beautiful sightseeings of curious formations, contrast of colours, dunes, streams, caverns, etc It is inevitable to think that the surface of the Earth's natural satellite is very similar to this place. The visitor will have time to explore the place and take pictures before going back to the hotel.
Day 3 San Pedro de Atacama- Geyser del Tatio + Machuca and Salar de Atacama + Toconao.
Morning. Be prepared to wake up early. Visitors will be picked up at 4 am to go the Geyser del Tatio, awesome valley of fumaroles and boiling water of volcanic origin located at 4.380 m.s. Marked trails are walked in order to appreciate the intense geothermal activity at dawn. Visitors will have breakfast after the tour and will continue with a visit to Machuca town where you can try traditional gastronomy and see local people handicrafts. At noon, after getting to San Pedro, there will be time to have lunch (not included in the tour)
Afternoon. It’s time to start the road trip to Salar de Atacama. On the way, The Toconao village, which is well known for its church, colonial bell towel, and volcanic stone handicraft, will be visited. Continuing on the road to Laguna Chaxa, it is possible to see groups of “Parinas” (pink flamingos) in their natural habitat. The sunset on the surface of the Salar is a spectacle entirely worthy. It’s time to go back to the hotel.
Day 4 San Pedro de Atacama - Archaeological tour
Morning. Excursion to the archaeological areas, The Pucará de Quitor is a fort built in an oasis close to the town of San Pedro, where bloody battles between the Lican Antai and Incas took place. Later it is visited the area of Tulor, ancient village of curious architecture. In this village, houses were rounded and had room to store grains and patios where families developed their daily activities. Those houses have been covered by sand for thousands of years, however, their discovery has been recent. It’is time to go back to the hotel where you’ll have time to have lunch. (not included in the tour)
Afternoon. Visitors are taken to Calama, El Loa airport for their return.