7 Things you must do in San Pedro de Atacama

The Atacama Desert is filled with adventure and lots of outdoor activities. There is so much to do that you can easily spend a week in San Pedro de Atacama. I spent 10 days in the desert and my life is now forever changed. OK, I may be exaggerating but my time in the desert was truly unforgettable. You can visit any time of the year as it only rains about 30 days out of the year. Now before I give my list of things you must do, I want to mention a few tips:

  • Tours do not include entrance fee’s to the national parks. Each park has different fee’s but it’s anywhere between 3-15 USD
  • Bring water and sunscreen. At least 1 liter per person and minimum 30 SPF You’ll need it.
  • Have fun!

Ok, now here’s the list. Enjoy!

NUMBER 1: Watch the sunset from Valley de la luna

If you’re a sucker for sunsets like me, this must be the first thing you do. There are several ways to get to the moon valley (Valle de la Luna in Spanish) but I opted for a tour because it seemed like the easiest option plus I wanted to learn about the area. My guide Leo was awesome and he took the group through three famous spots throughout the valley. During the first spot, we visited the great Dune, The three Mary’s, the finally finished at Coyote Stone. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sunset like that before and the place really makes you feel like you’re on another planet.

If you want to do the same tour I did, you can reserve your spot here!

NUMBER 2: Watch the sunrise from the Tatio Geysers

The best time to see this geothermic field is right at dawn. Not only will you see the geysers at its strongest moment but you will also see a beautiful sunrise. Close by are thermal pools, which you can swim in if you brought your suit. The tour I opted to take also took us through a small town called Machucha which has a really old and beautiful church with a cool story. There is was so much to see and since we got up so early, we were back to San Pedro around 1230, ready for lunch.

If you want to do the same tour, you can reserve your spot here!

NUMBER 3: Swim in the Laguna Cejar

Grab your swimsuit and get ready to experience something totally different. The Laguna Cejar is in the middle of the Atacama Salt Flats, Chile largest salt flats. There are several lagoons that have a high density of salt, which gives you the feeling that you’re floating similar to the Dead Sea. Once you’re done swimming, there are restrooms where you can change back into dry close and continue exploring the area. Before heading to the big Tebinquinche lagoon, we made a pit spot to see Maria’s eyes, two natural sinkholes within the salt flats. We ended our tour with a delicious pisco sour and some yummy treats as we watched the sunset. The day I went, the sun was not shining so you can see the volcanoes in the pictures but in real life, they had a mystery to them, that I couldn’t stop staring.

If you want to do the same tour, you can reserve your spot here!

NUMBER 4: Sand board down Death Valley

So I’ve been wanting to Sand Board since I knew that it was possible to take a snowboard to a sand dune. So when I found out that this was an option, I knew that I just HAD to do this! Being from Florida, we don’t have many options of snowy mountains, sand dunes, or even hills to climb my experience is quite limited. The only other time I had tried something like this was in Lake Tahoe, snow boarding when I was 14 years old so I was quite excited about this.

My instructor was very patient with me; he even had to show me how to strap on my shoes. That’s how much of a beginner I was. They gave me boots, helmet, and a board, all I needed to do was to leave my fear in the car and just go. And I did. I loved it! I would do again in a heartbeat! This was by far the best thing I tried

If you want to do the same tour, you can reserve your spot here!

NUMBER 5: High Plateau Lagoons

This may be one of the most popular tours in the Atacama Desert. My tour included a stop to Toconao, a village which has homes and a beautiful church built with volcanic stones, before heading to the first lagoon called Chaxa Lagoon. You’ll see a wide arrange of animals like flamingoes, reptiles, and insects. You continue to 4,200 m above sea level to visit the Miscanti and Meñigues Lagons with the beautiful Andes mountain range in the background before heading back to San Pedro.

If you want to do the same tour, you can reserve your spot here!

NUMBER 6: Trek through the rainbow valley

This tour was a pleasant surprize. I learned so much about the region that I didn’t learn from the other tours that I visited. We headed towards the Domeyko Mountain range and we were surprised with a huge flock of guanacos (typical animal from the area) before arriving at the pre-Columbian ruins of Hierbas Buenas, famed for its ancient petroglyphs. Our guide took us through time and explained the significance of each one. It felt like time stood still in that place, it was quite the experience.

Once we finished, we were on our way to Rainbow Valley, named for the multicolored rocks that get a variety of colors from the mineral makeup in the mountain range. There are several trails you can explore throughout the valley. Our guide let us wander freely for about 45 minutes. I believe that this tour isn’t one of the most popular ones but I highly recommend it.

If you want to do the same tour, you can reserve your spot here!

NUMBER 7: Try a Free walking tour through the town:

I don’t know about you, but when I start planning a trip I always check to see if there are free walking tours available in the city. They help get your feet wet in a new place and you get to learn about the history of the city you’re visiting. San Pedro’s free walking tours are no different. Just head out the Plaza next to the Church and you’ll see guides dressed in red and white stripe shirts from Tours 4 Tips. They offer two different walking tours and they are both amazing! If you only do one thing from this list, I would say that this is one you MUST DO.

Check out the free tours available in San Pedro here.

So there you have it! There are more activities you can do in San Pedro such as the Puritama Hot springs, climb Licanabur Volcano, and check out an astronomical tour. I just ran out of time and didn’t have a chance to check them out myself. I’m already planning my trip to come back and visit.

Remember when you give good, you get good.

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