Chile
San Pedro de Atacama

Discover travel destinations of travelers writing a travel journal on FindPenguins.

401 travelers at this place

  • Day37

    Ein "Valle de la Luna"...

    December 7, 2018 in Chile ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Gibt es nicht nur in La Paz sondern auch in Chile 🇨🇱. Dieses ist eine deutlich größere Wüstenlandschaft. Die Fotos können weder die Weite dieser Landschaft noch die 35-40 Grad während meines Besuches wiedergeben...Read more

    samipo

    Warst Du “Sandboarden“?

    12/9/18Reply
    Markus Potthast

    Nein...ich bleibe überzeugter Skifahrer und lass mich von einem Brett nicht locken...

    12/9/18Reply
     
  • Day35

    San Pedro de Atacama

    December 5, 2018 in Chile ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    ...ist mein erstes Ziel in Chile...ein absoluter Kulturschock: ein kleines, sehr gepflegtes Städtchen - die Altstadt ist pittoresk und die Neustadt wirkt eher wie in Spanien und hat nichts von dem Dreck und Chaos aus Bolivien oder Peru. Das Pro-Kopf GDP liegt in Chile 6x (!!!) höher als in Bolivien und die Preise sind auch mindestens 3x so hoch wie im Nachbarland. Gleichzeitig ist alles gepflegt und ordentlich: Gemüse am Markt wird wie in Europa aus großen Plastikboxen verkauft...und nicht wie in Bolivien auf Decken gestapelt...Read more

  • Day6

    Day 4-Atacama - Moon Valley

    January 1, 2019 in Chile ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    A morning flight to Calama after checking out of the hotel landed us in "the great north," as Chileans call it. The smooth, two-hour flight took us up into the high plains to the west of the Andes and over a huge expanse of barren uplands. The denuded hills presented no vegetation and only an occasional road. A few (huge) open-pit mines broke the monotony. These are copper mines - once Chile's biggest industry but more recently affected by the fluctuations in world copper prices. Also recent are a few lithium mines. Approaching Calama, we began to see more evidence of mining with arrow-straight dirt access roads leading to drilling pads (?) or some type of exploration work. From Calama it is a bit more than an hour by bus to Pedro de Atacama.

    If we thought it looked barren from the air, from the ground it is stark! The Atacama is the world's driest desert and there is NOTHING on the ground except wind-blown dark sand and small gravel. There are no plants, not even grass and the terrain is gently rolling with a gully every once in a while. The road to San Pedro is good and our bus was comfortable.

    San Pedro is a oasis, both literally and figuratively, in this empty plain. It sits at just below 8,000 feet and you can feel the thinness of the air after taking only a few steps. The small town has the only trees and commercial operations around. The bowl of the Atacama exists because it is ringed and all sides by mountain ranges - the 15,000-foot Andes to the east and lower ranges on the other sides. One of these ranges is the Salt Range, which we traversed on the way to San Pedro. Twenty million years ago, the area was a large sea until tectonic forces lifted the Andes and drained the sea, leaving huge salt pans. The Andes here are a series of mostly dormant volcanoes rising to 19,000 feet peaks. These ranges block any rain from all directions, creating the dry conditions. The absence of rain has allowed what little does fall and the wind to sculpt an otherworldly landscape of salt and gypsum deposits into fantastic shapes. The same tectonic forces that lifted the Andes also pushed up blocks of the ancient seafood, allowing a look at the sedimentary layers of different formations.

    San Pedro is one of Chile's greatest tourist attractions and the town has over 100 accommodation options and dozens of restaurants. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience (quoting the guidebook) since there is noting else like it on earth. Attractions include high-altitude climbing, sand hoarding, mountain biking, horseback riding, blue salt lakes dotted with flamingos, salt-encrusted valleys, geysers and hot springs. The cloudless skies and isolation from light pollution offer some of the best star gazing in the world and one of the world's biggest astronomic observatories. Lots to do, in spite of it's remoteness.

    We had a tour booked for the afternoon so we hurriedly checked in to the Hotel Diego de Almagro and went looking for the tour bus company. Our tour of the Moon Valley (Valle de la Luna) was great!. The name comes from the stark, barren landscape. There is nothing living here - no vegetation, no birds, no insects, not even tiny lizards scampering across the rocks. Our bi-lingual guide explained what we were looking at and led us on different, usually short treks to see particular sites. The rocks here are conglomerates of sediment, volcanic materials, alluvial deposits, salt and gypsum. At one spot she had us stop and be quiet long enough to hear the snapping and popping of the rocks, caused by the expansion and contraction of the salt in the sun and shade. We walked up to the top of one of the sand dunes to look over the lunar-like landscape. I sure felt the altitude and Gail didn't do the dune climb. The tour concluded with a sunset view from one of the higher cliffs.

    Back at the hotel, we found the dinner was by reservation only and we hadn't made them. The town was packed with tourists (it's New Year's Eve, after all and we'd had a bit of trouble getting a hotel). We were tired, hot, sweaty and hungry - not having eaten since breakfast. We searched out a restaurant but found them all asking for reservations. We settled for some cheese, crackers, meat and yoghurt from a tiny mom-and-pop store near the hotel and ate in the room. It was just about midnight by then and we started to hear the fireworks and revelers as we went to bed. Gail said the revelry went on until three in the morning but I was passed out by then. Happy New Year.
    Read more

    Kay's Travels

    Happy New Year Interesting area thanks for the detailed information. Yes, walking uphill at 8,000 ft can be a challenge to our old age. :-)

    1/1/19Reply
    Rennie Brong

    Nice

    1/2/19Reply
    Rennie Brong

    Happy New year!

    1/2/19Reply
    Kay's Travels

    Yes !!

    1/3/19Reply
     
  • Day8

    Day 6 - Flamingos and Altiplano

    January 3, 2019 in Chile ⋅ ☁️ 21 °C

    Just spent an hour writing up the day only to have my tablet crash without saving it.

    The tour picked us at the hotel around 6:30 and spent an hour picking up other participants at their hotels. With a group of 20, we headed south along the west side of the Atacama Salt pan for an 11-hour, 250-mile, 1-mile elevation change jaunt.

    The Atacama pan is an immense brine lake hemmed in on all sides by the four mountain ranges I mentioned yesterday. It is fed mostly by underground sources coming down from the Andes to the west. The surface is a thick crust of evaporated salt and minerals. It is a mile deep and was formed by the faulting, uplift and subsidence that formed the Andes over millions of years. The weight of the crust presses down on the liquid brine at the bottom, forcing it up to the surface where it evaporates to form new crust. The lake is about 1,100 square miles - one of the largest salt lakes in the world - and sits at about 8,000 feet.

    An hour into the jaunt, we arrived at the National Flamingo Reserve. Our guide, Roberto, kept up a constant, informative stream of information about the history, geology, ecology, and culture that we passed through during the entire trip - in good English. At the Reserve, Roberto led on a walk along the paths to see the shallow pools of brine where the three native species of flamingos waded while filtering the brine shrimp they eat and which give them their color. The crust is hard, jagged, and sharp - much like coral - brownish, with white or translucent nuggets of salt. We compared the coral-like surface to out memory of the smooth surface of Lake Nakuru, another flamingo reserve in Kenya. After the walk we had a light but filling breakfast, provide by the tour, by the bus. Roberto led us through the low-key but informative exhibits at the Reserve's HQ, adding additional information.

    Out of the Reserve heading west and south, we went up (and up, and up). The bus stopped at Socaire, a town of about 1,000 where the tour arranged our lunch on the return leg. The people of Socaire still farm the surrounding gullies using terraces formed with mud brick walls - much the same as they have done for centuries. The Conquistadors, arriving in the mid 1500s, were extremely impressed by the Inca terraced agriculture and called the uplands by their name for terraces (roughly, "atraves"). Usages and corruption changed that name into "Andes." Socaire sits at about 11,000 feet and the little walking we did left me lightheaded and breathing deeply. Alongside the path we saw vicunas, the small indigenous deer related to the llama and alpaca.

    Southward and upward we continued into the "Altiplano," the name for the region in Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia above 4,000 meters elevation. We stopped at Laguna Miscanti, another salt flat isolated by the eruptions of the line of volcanoes along this stretch of the Andes. There are more than 40 volcanoes along this line, many extinct but some mearly dormant. The last nearby eruption was about 1,000 years ago. The lagoon is blue-green and smooth, reflecting the peaks on either side. We walked down a path above the the lagoon and enjoyed the view. There were no others land animals and only a few birds.

    As we continued up it got cooler (maybe in the 60s at 2 PM) and windier. We got to Piedras Rojas (red rocks) and more salt flats with red hillsides due to the large iron content of the volcanic soil. We topped out about 13,500 feet and walking was a breathless experience (and to think just yesterday I complained about being out of breath in Atacama, a mile lower). At one location, fresh, 100 degree water flowed green into one of the salt pans. Roberto told us that there is evidence of human activity here dating from 12, 000 BC and human settlement from about 8,000 BC. As he talked he showed helpful pictures of various animals and indigenous culture from reference books he carried. As we headed back down into the basin, we could see on the far southern side of Atacama pan the white expanse of the lithium extraction process. The process pumps liquid brine from the depths of the lake and spreads it out in large ponds to evaporate the water, then refines the residue to get the lithium and other minerals.

    Back in Socaire, we had a great lunch of some Chilean dishes and headed north and lower toward San Pedro. We stopped at the marker designating the spot where the Tropic of Capricorn crosses the road. This marks the southernmost extent of the sun's annual oscillation. At noon on December 21st, the sun is directly overhead. Here, there is also the trace of the "Inca Highway" the road (footpath) stretching the length of the Inca empire and on which moved much of the empire's commerce and communications (carried by runners who could average 50 kilometers in eight hours). We rolled into San Pedro about 6 PM. Since we had an early start tomorrow, we showered and soon crashed.
    Read more

    Marie Wolk

    Dear Gail and Bruce, Meant to call and give you a Bon Voyage on the 27th but you can see how that came and went. Just tagged onto your "findpenguins" so will now follow you like I was there with you. Safe travels and enjoy it to the MAX!

    1/3/19Reply
    Kay's Travels

    Oh no!! Highly frustrating I am sure. Need more pictures! :-)

    1/3/19Reply
     
  • Day105

    Final chapter: Atacama

    January 15, 2020 in Chile ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Last days on my trip and I wanted still to see the legendary Atacama desert in Chile: Was a good decision to take an extra flight here before I enter my flight back to Germany tomorrow 😃!

    Geysirs, volcanoes, rainbow/moon and death valley were all quite impressive for me....so the final chapter is written!

    Looking forward now meeting all of you back in Germany 😃...but how every good movie, there has to be an sequel, starting soon 😜
    Read more

    Daniela J.

    I hope your sequel will be better than the most Hollywood ones ;)

    1/16/20Reply
    Ralf D.

    I try to follow the 2nd parts quality of Star Wars, Aliens and Terminator 😁

    1/16/20Reply
     
  • Day6

    Day 5 - Chilling in the Desert

    January 1, 2019 in Chile ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

    Slept in and relaxed today since we had nothing planned and most tours were not running. Confirmed various things, such as the ride back to Calama and our pickup times tomorrow and Thursday. Sat by the big, nice hotel pool reading. In the late afternoon, we strolled around several streets, buying a few gift trinkets then had a great pizza and salad at a Ford's recommended place - Charrua. We'll be off early tomorrow so will bed early tonight.

    San Pedro de Atacama is small town, seemingly poor town. Coming in from Calama we were surprised at the difference between them. The houses in San Pedro are almost all one-story mud brick or cinder block with mud daub (stucco) finishes. Only one street (of maybe 12 total) is paved; the rest are gravel or natural surface. It is dusty. The streets are a haphazard grid that could never have been planned. The streets are narrow, two cars have difficulty passing each other unless they find a wider section. There are cobble sidewalks on some streets but mostly you walk on road. The main street, Caracoles, is lined with souvenir shops and restaurants with an occasional small grocery store. It looks much like rural villages in back country Ecuador or Africa. The streets are thronged with tourists with hardly any car traffic.

    When we got to the Hotel Diego de Almagro, we were surprised to find it does not have air conditioning. The daytime temps are in the 80s but overnight it dips down to the 50s so, apparently, AC is not necessary. We opened the windows for a while but there are no bars or screens on the windows and Gail is afraid to sleep without that security so she closed the windows last night. The hotel is quite nice - clean, well-kept (maybe on par with a Comfort Inn) but nowhere near that level of our Santiago hotel, Magnolia. Breakfast is included and they had a diverse spread of fruits, breads, cold meats, a few hot dishes, and coffee, tea, and juices. Because so many tours leave early (our tour tomorrow leaves at 6:30 and Thursday's leaves at 5:00), the hotel will pack you a bag breakfast/lunch - although the early tours often include breakfast. The room has a fridge and we bought water and drinks to have. We couldn't get the room safe to work and neither could the hotel staff but they assure us that our things are safe. There are, as I said, many lodging choices from backpacker hostels to a plush resort outside the town that has rooms at $1,200/night.

    An interesting mix of isolation and luxury.
    Read more

  • Day29

    Sandboarding Runde 2

    November 5, 2019 in Chile ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    After the sandboarding in Huacachina, Peru, this time I did it standing up like snowboarding in the middle of the Atacama desert. Not so easy, but definitely good fun!🤗 At least the sand doesn't hurt😁 Climbing the dunes everytime, however, made really tired!Read more

  • Day4

    San Pedro

    November 10, 2019 in Chile ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    Yesterday a short flight brought us to Calama Airport, from which we took a bus to the nearby town of San Pedro in the Atacama desert. It's a bit dry and dusty here for some reason. And the breakfast is so tasteful it took our breath away quite literally.Read more

    Suzanne Schönbeck

    Hahahaha

    11/10/19Reply
    Susanne and Machiel

    It was just soooo incredibly sweet

    11/10/19Reply

    e [QPbmCRVM]

    4/24/21Reply
     
  • Day8

    Stargazing

    November 14, 2019 in Chile ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

    The geyser tour wasn't the only planned activity on Thursday. Late in the evening we had our last, but not least, tour of the week. Machiel felt a bit better at this point and the astronomy tour was fairly short, so we decided to go with the three of us.

    The tour operator brought us to a nearby outdoor astrometry area where they had several huge programmable telescopes. The night sky was incredible when we got out of the van. We knew the almost full moon was going to appear later, so we made use of the time to soak up all the impressions. The guides then explained some aspects of stars, planets, and galaxies. We got to use the different telescopes that were set up to see Saturn and some particularly bright stars.

    The guides also provided us with some nice local food, so all in all it was a very nice evening. When the Moon showed up the amount of visible stars greatly decreased but it was also cool to observe it through a telescope. We tried to make some nice pictures (also through the telescopes) but of course it was mostly a very dark setting that was hard to capture with our camera.
    Read more

    Suzanne Schönbeck

    So cool!

    11/17/19Reply
     
  • Day3

    Camino malo

    February 23, 2020 in Chile ⋅ ☀️ 11 °C

    Der Tag heute begann sehr früh, denn wir hatten viel vor. Nach dem Frühstück sind wir zu unserem Auto gegangen um dann durch die Atacama-Wüste zu einem Salzsee zu fahren, wo man morgens früh Flamingos beobachten kann. Leider war die Zufahrt zu dem See gesperrt. Anja hat dann auf Google Maps noch einen zweiten Weg gefunden, wo wir dann hingefahren sind. Auch hier das gleiche Ergebnis: Zufahrt gesperrt 🙈 So hatten wir uns das nicht vorgestellt. Naja, mussten wir halt weiter zur nächsten Attraktion: Laguna Miscanti.
    Das ist ein Süßwassersee in den Anden in ca. 4.200m Höhe. Nebendran war noch ein etwas kleinerer See. Das war in der Tat sehr schön anzusehen, so mit den Seen und dann die hohen Berge dahinter, das ergab eine supercoole Kulisse. Leider gab es nicht so viele Möglichkeiten um den oder die Seen herum zu wandern. Aber vielleicht war es auch eher ein „zum Glück“ als ein „leider“. Mir hat die Höhe doch ein klein wenig Probleme bereitet. Lag wohl daran, dass wir sehr schnell so hoch waren und wir uns nicht wirklich akklimatisiert haben. Wir sind dann alles etwas langsamer gegangen und dann ging es.
    Wie es immer so ist, kommt das ganze auf den Bildern gar nicht so rüber. In echt wirkte das schon sehr sehr schön.
    Danach wollten wir noch an einen anderen See fahren. Der Weg dahin war allerdings eine Schotterpiste. An zwei stellen war der eigentliche Weg scheinbar beim letzten Regen weggespült worden, so dass wir kreativ umfahren mussten. Eigentlich kein Problem, wir haben ja nen Allrad. Aber irgendwann kam uns dann ein Chilene entgegen und meinte zu uns, „camino malo“, also der Weg ist schlecht. Dann haben wir uns gedacht „ok, wenn das schon die Einheimischen sagen, dann kehren wir besser um“. Wir hatten zu dem Zeitpunkt auch erst 5km von 23km zurückgelegt - und viel schlechter hätte der Weg auch für unseren Pickup nicht mehr werden dürfen... Schade, dass damit auch das zweite Ziel für heute ausgefallen ist. Also ging es zurück ins Hostel und zum entspannen an den Pool.
    Ansonsten ist Autofahren hier total unspannend. Es geht größtenteils immer nur geradeaus. Aber das ist auch gar nicht so schlecht. Kann ich mich auch als Fahrer an der genialen Landschaft erfreuen.
    Und heute Abend gehts dann ins Valle de la luna. Also quasi ins Mondtal 😃
    Read more

    AnjaS

    Ich habe am Pool mal recherchiert: die Laguna Chaxa ist aufgrund von Wartungsarbeiten bis zum 29. Februar gesperrt 😕

    2/23/20Reply
    Löwensenft

    Eieiei. Hoffentlich bleibt das nicht die nächsten Tage so, mit eurem "Glück". :-p

    2/23/20Reply

    Weiter so........ Ich wünsche euch morgen mehr Glück...........

    2/23/20Reply
    2 more comments
     

You might also know this place by the following names:

San Pedro de Atacama