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How to Spend 3 Days in San Pedro de Atacama

How to Spend 3 Days in San Pedro de Atacama

Three days in San Pedro de Atacama give you chance to explore the surrounding desert in a myriad of ways; see geysers, lunar landscapes, flamingos. You’ll also be able to soak up the town’s atmosphere and learn about its history. Here’s how.

Day 1: Head to Another Planet

San Pedro de Atacama is best-known as a base for adventures wanting to discover the surrounding desert, but the town itself offers plenty to see and do. Spend the morning exploring the historic center; tick off the centuries-old adobe church in the Plaza de Armas, the roof of which is made partially of dried cactus, and the R.P. Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological Museum, which exhibits more than 1,000 artefacts collected by a Belgian priest.

In the afternoon, take a trip to the Valley of the Moon (Valle de la Luna), where lunar landscapes have been shaped by wind and water over millions of years. Tours from San Pedro de Atacama typically also visit Valle de la Muerte (Death Valley) and are timed to coincide with sunset over the desert.

Day 2: Geysers, Hot Springs, and the Stars

Begin your second day bright and early with a pre-dawn tour of El Tatio, one of the biggest geothermal fields in the world. The trip north from San Pedro de Atacama takes around two hours, so letting someone else drive allows you to catch up on sleep in the vehicle. Watch the sunrise as dozens of steaming geysers burst into the air, then take a dip in a geothermal pool. Tours from San Pedro de Atacama typically include breakfast and some also add on a visit to the village of Machuca, where you’ll see grazing llamas and have chance sample goat’s cheese empanadas.

Spend your afternoon soaking in the thermal pools of Puritana Natural Springs; tours tend to include hotel transfers and admission tickets. In the evening, discover why the Atacama Desert is one of the world’s best places for stargazing on a night tour of South America’s largest astronomical observatory. 

Day 3: Salt Flats and Flamingos

Your third day begins with another early start, but it’s more than worth it to see the Atacama Salt Flats, one of the largest salt flats in the world. Highlights of typical full-day tours include seeing flocks of brightly colored flamingos at Chaxa Lagoon, part of Los Flamencos National Park, and exploring the high-altitude lakes of Miscanti and Miñique, which are framed by bright-white mineral deposits and yellow pampa grass. Tours tend to also visit the village of Socaire, where a traditional Chilean lunch made with regional produce is often included, and Toconao, where you can admire a 18th-century whitewashed church, see buildings made from volcanic stone, and browse craft shops for treasures made from alpaca wool and volcanic rock.

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2 Tours and Activities

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Atacama Desert Stargazing Tour

Atacama Desert Stargazing Tour

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Gaze at the sparkling stars of the Atacama Desert with an expert astronomer on a stargazing tour from San Pedro de Atacama. Visit South America’s largest astronomical observatory and gain insight into the secrets of the night sky; stare at stars through a state-of-the-art telescope, discovering glowering planets invisible to the naked eye; and capture photographs of the moon’s crater covered surfaces. Conclude your magical evening with a steaming cup of cocoa as you digest your newfound cosmological knowledge.
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  • 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$46.66
Price varies by group size
From
$46.66
Price varies by group size

Atacama Salt Flat and Toconao Town Tour

Atacama Salt Flat and Toconao Town Tour

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1
Knowing the best spots to appreciate Chile’s natural landscape can be tricky. Discover the country’s largest salt flat on a day tour to Salar de Atacama, and visit one of the elevated region’s villages along the way for insight into traditional Chilean culture. Explore the rural terrain with ease, with round-trip transfer from San Pedro, and benefit from insights provided by your local guide.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$54.00
From
$54.00