The Atacama Desert located in Chile’s north is considered the driest hot desert in the world, occupying over 105,000 square kilometres. The desert also spreads into Argentina, Peru & Bolivia and encompasses an abundance of amazing flora and fauna species which have evolved to adapt to the unforgiving environment. The desert has become a hotspot for adventurous travellers to trek around these harsh lands and experience an amazing journey through the wilderness.
This trip involves a collection of the many experiences which the Atacama calls home. Seek out impressive rock formation of the Salt Mountains, see the Moon Valley and trek in between glorious sunrises and even more magnificent sunsets. As the trek progresses get bewildered by the starry Atacama sky by night and visit Indigenous cultures, the Rio Grande village, Atacama Salt Flats and the magical Tatio Geysers by day. This journey is truly the best way to experience the raw wilderness of the Atacama.
Arrival in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. Arrive at Calama Airport and transfer to San Pedro de Atacama, driving past the impressive rock formations of the Cordillera de la Sal (Salt Mountains). Once in San Pedro you will receive a briefing over lunch about the upcoming days and in the afternoon, go on your first hike in the vast amazing Valle de la Luna. Afterwards, begin a trek over large sand dunes until reaching the viewpoint of one of the world's most beautiful sunsets, intensified by the warm colours throughout the Valley. Then return to town and stay overnight in San Pedro.
After breakfast make your way to the Fortress of Quitor and set off on a walk to the mouth of the San Pedro River, exploring its small canyons along the way. The path crosses the river at various points and there are strange geological formations to sight. Finally you will come to a small valley and the ghost town of San Bartolo - a former mining enclave, now abandoned. Camp in this wonderfully isolated spot and enjoy a night under the starry Atacama sky. Overnight at Camping San Bartolo.
This morning, you will be collected from your hotel for your tour of Santiago. Visit both the old and new areas of the city. Highlights include the Plaza de Armas, the city's central square and the heart of the city’s old colonial core. The Plaza de Armas is home to the beautiful 18th century Metropolitan Cathedral, the early 19th century Royal Court Palace that houses the Natural History Museum and the Central Post Office completed in 1882. Will continue along the Government Palace and where we will have the opportunity to walk through some of the most traditional streets and neighbourhoods. Visit Cerro Santa Lucia, the hill on which Santiago was founded in 1541, now a park with fountains and stairs leading to a fort and panoramic viewpoint across the city. On completion of your tour, you will be taken to your hotel.
Please note this is small group tour and only operates in the morning.
Today is the most physically challenging day of the trek, as you head towards Machuca Village. The trail continues alongside small streams in narrow, beautiful valleys inhabited by indigenous locals and their llama herds. Continue climbing up steep desert canyons, gaining altitude, until you reach the wetlands of Machuca, full of local wildlife. From here you have an amazing view of Licancabur Volcano, the sacred mountain of the Atacameño people. At this point you are at 4,000m (13,000ft) above sea level, and will spend the evening relaxing and acclimatizing in the campsite next to a big 'bofedal' - wetlands where llamas graze. Overnight at Camping Machuca.
Welcome to the Atacama Desert. Upon arrival in Calama, you will be transferred to San Pedro de Atacama (1.5 hours, shared with other hotel guests). Dinner will be served at Alto Atacama hotel. During the evening, the guides will suggest optional activities available the following day.
Alto Atacama is a village hotel at the base of the Cordillera de la Sal (Salt Mountains), near the ancient ruins of Pukara de Quitor and 3km from the famous oasis of San Pedro de Atacama. Combining raw nature with comfort and convenience, Alto Atacama offers the perfect refuge to rejuvenate the body and soul.
The small oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama lies on an arid high plateau in the Andes Mountains in the heart of some of northern Chile’s most spectacular scenery. Overlooking the Licancabur Volcano, its dramatic surrounding landscape ranges from desert, salt flats, steaming geysers and hot springs to fascinating rock formations. The church, dating back to 1774 and featuring adobe, cactus wood and leather-bound beams and the Archaeological Museum are both worth a visit.
Take the final day of the trip to relax and wander around the village, visiting its handicraft shops, church and museum. In the afternoon, transfer to Calama’s airport to take your flight back to Santiago...Adios Atacama!
• One expert English-speaking guide
• All ground private transportation as indicated in the itinerary
• 3 nights in 3 star hotel in San Pedro
• 3 nights camping
• Breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. Except on day 1 not breakfast included and day 7 only breakfasts included.
• Domestic flight tickets
• Insurance (it is mandatory you purchase appropriate insurance for this trip).
• Voluntary tipping of guides and staff
• Sleeping bags and mats
• Items of personal nature
* Camping: The tents arranged for this program are typical mountain tents with enough room for 2 people overnight in comfortable conditions. We provide all the camping gear, but you have to bring your own mat and sleeping bag. Our team will be responsible for setting up the tents in the camping site. There will be also a big and comfortable dining tent for enjoying breakfast and dinner.
We believe that appropriate accommodation should add to the authentic travel experience, as well as providing utmost enjoyment. For that reason our accommodation is scrutinised by our staff on the ground frequently, ensuring the properties adhere to our high standards. This key will help you understand the levels of accommodation available on this tour.
Comfortable properties with dependable facilities and service.
Upmarket properties with above average facilities and service.
Luxurious properties with impeccable facilities and service.
SPEAK TO A SPECIALIST
Talk to one of our Destination Specialists to plan your South American adventure and turn your dream into a reality. With exceptional knowledge and first hand experience, our consultants will assist in every way possible to make your journey the most memorable it can be, matching not only the itinerary, but the accommodation and activities to suit your style of travel and budget.
Chimu Adventures undertakes a number of sustainability measures within its operations including:
1) Only using local guides and office staff to both maximise local employment opportunities and minimise carbon footprints. Local guides also ensure you benefit from the intimate knowledge, passion and culture of the country you’re visiting.
2) Where possible, using locally owned and operated boutique hotels to maximise the return to the local community.
3) Chimu’s “Pass it on” programme has provided funding to hundreds of local community projects in Latin America. Our aim is to empower local communities, helping them to develop their own infrastructure for the future. Since 2006, we have been working with Kiva (a well-known Non-Governmental Organisation), providing hundreds of loans to local businesses all over South America.
4) In our pre tour information we provide a range of tips and advice on how to minimise your impact on both local environments and communities.
5) Chimu Adventures’ offices also take a number of sustainability measures including carbon offsets for company vehicles and most staff travel. Chimu Adventure’s internal processes are also structures to create a paperless office and to reduce waste. There are also internal programmes to help staff minimise their carbon footprint such as our staff bike purchase assistance plan which encourages office staff to commute to work via bicycle. Currently almost half of our office based staff commute to work via bicycle.