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Atacama is the driest desert in the world, which however has the most biodiverse areas on the continent. Located mainly in the north of Chile, it is limited to the west by the Pacific Ocean and to the east by the Andes Mountains. Mountains of various shapes, turquoise lagoons and seas of dunes deeply fascinate its visitors.

As one of the driest deserts on the planet, its surface seems like another world. Atacama is a region that surprises with its changing landscape and magical destinations, providing travelers with a fascinating experience.

Located between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, this Chilean desert, although inhospitable, is alive. A trip to Atacama will show you that it has rocky ground, salt flats, valleys, hidden lagoons and, of course, sand!

San Pedro de Atacama is located in the northern region of Chile, a small town with a peaceful life that offers its visitors everything they need to spend an unforgettable season.

What is the difference between the Atacama Desert and the Atacama Region?

The Atacama Desert is the driest non-polar zone on the planet. It is located in the Big North and Small North regions of Chile and covers an area of approximately 1600 kilometers. The Atacama Region is one of the 16 zones in which Chile is divided and is the gateway to the Chilean Small North region. Copiapó is the capital.

Why staying in the town of San Pedro in your trip to Atacama?

Located at approximately 2.500 meters above sea level, San Pedro de Atacama is the closest town to the desert and has archaeological and touristic interest. It is, without a doubt, a magical town recommended for travelers to rest and to be close to the main tourist attractions of the region.

From the city of Calama, where visitors arrive to the Atacama Desert through different flights, it is only a 1-hour trip by car or bus. San Pedro de Atacama is the ideal destination for a trip to this Chilean desert, as it has a very good infrastructure with excellent lodgings, restaurants and handicraft shops.

Which places in Atacama are unmissable?

When staying in San Pedro de Atacama, the following tours should not be missed on your Atacama travel itinerary:

  • Valle de la Luna: a region that offers a geological spectacle. Part of the Los Flamencos National Reserve, it has a landscape reminiscent of the surface of the moon. Surrounded by hills with sharp ridges, saline ground and colors that change according to the movement of the sun at sunset, the Valle de la Luna in Atacama is a stunning spectacle.
  • Laguna Cejar: about 16 kilometers away from San Pedro de Atacama you can find this marvelous lagoon of blue and emerald waters. Framed by the Cordillera de la Sal and the Licancabur Volcano, it is possible to float in the lagoon without fear due to the high concentrations of salt in its waters, higher than those of the Dead Sea.
  • Géiseres del Tatio: this is a geothermal field that is the highest on the planet. Water and steam erupt ferociously from the earth at sunrise, reaching six meters in height, providing a unique spectacle.
  • Salar de Atacama: this is the largest salt deposit in Chile. It covers 300.000 square kilometers in a region with totally dry air, which makes it possible to appreciate it in its totality. Located a few kilometers from San Pedro de Atacama, the salt flat has some small lagoons where flamingos, guallatas and taguas live. It is one of the most touristic areas of Atacama.
  • Lagunas Altiplánicas Miscanti & Miñiques: are sister lagoons formed by underground water from the snowmelt of the Miscanti hill and the Miñiques volcano. These lagoons are scenic treasures hidden among volcanoes.

When to travel to Atacama?

The weather in this region is extremely dry, with an average temperature of 32ºC in summer and -2ºC in winter. Although the best time to organise a trip to Atacama can be at any time of the year, you should keep in mind that in summer heavy rains can happen due to the so-called 'Bolivian winter' or 'Altiplanic winter'.

It happens that the high temperatures coming from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay, together with the masses of humidity coming from the Atlantic Ocean, rise, reach the Chilean highlands and then precipitations fall.

Furthermore, being a desert area, Atacama has a wide thermal variation between day and night. For these reasons, it is important to consult the meteorological services in order to choose a calm season to enjoy.