Atacama Desert Trek

Nothern Chile
Trip Length: 7 Days
Group Size: 1-14
Difficulty
From: 2,125 USD
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The otherwordly beauty of the Atacama Desert is waiting for you. Book your adventure now!

Join us on a weeklong trip, full of exciting adventures. Marvel at the otherworldly rock formations in the Moon Valley, witness the incredible eruptions of the Tatio Geysers and explore the vastness of Atacama’s alt Flats.

NOR030 _ Atacama _ Group Photo

 

Highlights

Highlights

  • Explore the world’s driest desert.
  • Go to the Puritama Hot Springs.
  • See the Miscanti and Miñiques Lagoons.
  • Visit local indigenous villages.
  • Enjoy starry skies.
  • Examine Pre-Columbian Ruins and Geoglyphs.
  • See the Atacama Salt Flats.
  • Participate in “off the beaten path” trekking​.

Itinerary

Day 1: The Adventures Starts

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

We’ll arrive at Calama Airport and drive straight to San Pedro de Atacama, passing the impressive rock formations of the Cordillera de la Sal (Salt mountains). Once in San Pedro, we receive a briefing over lunch about the upcoming days and in the afternoon we embark on our first hike in the vast, amazing Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley). On the hike, we will walk over sand dunes until we reach the viewpoint from where we will witness one of the world's most beautiful sunsets, intensified by the warm colors throughout the Valley. We come back to town and stay overnight in San Pedro.

For more details about trek distance and walking time, click here to check out our Trekking Chart.

Overnight at Hotel Poblado Kimal (3-star accommodation), San Pedro de Atacama.

Day 2: Yerbas Buenas to Valle del Arcoiris

Atacama Desert, Chile

After breakfast, we’ll drive towards the Fortress of Quitor and set off on a walk to the mouth of the San Pedro River, exploring small canyons along the way. The path crosses the river at various points and there are unique geological formations. At the end of the day, we will camp under the starry Atacama sky.

Overnight Camping.

Day 3: Trek to Rio Grande

Atacama Desert, Chile

We’ll start the day with a demanding trek, climbing up to a higher altitude as we leave the river bed and move towards the plateau. Here, we’ll have a great view of the abandoned mines, home to many legends.

The trail continues through the river canyon and giant cacti emerge in the midst of the arid barren desert. There are some areas of the valley that are so dry that scientists have not found life or even bacteria. Soon we will arrive at Río Grande Village, one of the few remaining indigenous communities of the Atacameño people and we’ll set up camp on the river banks.

Overnight Camping at Rio Grande.

Day 4: Rio Grande to Machuca

Atacama Desert, Chile

Today will be the most physically challenging day of the trek, as we walk towards Machuca Village. The trail continues alongside small streams in narrow, beautiful valleys inhabited by indigenous locals and their llama herds. We’ll continue climbing up steep desert canyons, gaining altitude, until we reach the wetlands of Machuca, full of local wildlife. From here we have an amazing view of Licancabur Volcano, the sacred mountain of the Atacameño people. At this point, we are at 4,000 m (13,000 ft) above sea level, and we’ll spend the evening relaxing and acclimatizing at our campsite next to a big 'bofedal' - wetlands where llamas graze.

Overnight Camping at Machuca.

Day 5: Machuca to Tatio Geysers and Copa Coya

Atacama Desert, Chile

After a hearty breakfast, we’ll leave Machuca and head towards the Tatio Geysers, arriving just after the vast sunrise crowds have dispersed and the Geysers can be appreciated in sunlight at a more relaxed pace and pleasant temperature. The geothermal field is truly incredible, from almost 900 meters below the earth, boiling steam bursts up to 40 meters over the surface of the earth.

After the geysers, we will begin our walk, lasting approximately 3 hours, towards a high Andean plateau with the same name as the trail - Copa Coya. While we walk we will see Andean vegetation and maybe viscachas (similar to chinchillas) and stop to enjoy lunch with a view. At the end of the walk, there’s a steep uphill climb leading to a wonderful viewpoint of the Alto Loa villages. Afterwards, we’ll descend from the Copa Coya and enjoy the Tatio Thermal Pool for a restoring bath. We end the day back at our hotel.

Overnight at Hotel Poblado Kimal (3-star accommodation), San Pedro de Atacama.

Day 6: Atacama Salt Flat and Lagoons

Atacama Desert, Chile

We get up feeling refreshed and satisfied that we crossed the heart of Atacama with the same explorer spirit of its first inhabitants. We’ll drive towards the amazing Salt Flats, home to astonishing birds like the Chilean Pink Flamingos. Then we continue driving towards the marvelous Miscanti and Miñiques Lagoons, full of turquoise waters that beautifully contrast with the autumnal colors of the Altiplanic lands. It’s a  truly incredible landscape! We’ll spend our final night in San Pedro.

Overnight at Hotel Poblado Kimal (3 star accommodation), San Pedro de Atacama.

Day 7: Goodbye Atacama

Atacama Desert, Chile

On the final day, we’ll relax and wander around the village, visiting the handicraft shops, church, and museum.

In the afternoon we will drive to the Calama Airport to catch our flight back to Santiago... Adiós Atacama!

Accommodation

3-star Hotel (night 1, 5 and 6)

Our first option will be 3-star Hotel Poblado Kimal, in San Pedro de Atacama.

This small labyrinth of finely executed structures of volcanic stone and earthen walls, is situated in an ancient orchard close to the main square.
You will be able to enjoy your delicious buffet breakfast of fruit, pastries and fruit juices served by the pool in an atmosphere of absolute relaxation and sophistication.

If this hotel is not available, a similar alternative will be offered.

Camping (night 2, 3 and 4)

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 sleeping bag (sleeping mats are available). 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.

Facts

Departures

  • Regular group expeditions leave every Monday.
  • Minimum 2 people signed to confirm departure.

Starting / finishing point

The trip starts in the morning at the Calama Airport. The last transfer pick-up time is 12:30 PM. The trip finishes at the Calama Airport and we suggest booking flights departing after 5 PM.

Please be aware that there is just one van doing both routes, so when travelers of the same group arrive/leave on different flights the others may have to wait at the airport. Please contact us so we can tell you which flights match better with the entire group’s schedule.

Physical demands

Trekking in the Atacama Desert requires more physical preparation than for most vacations. On this trip, you will be trekking between 4 to 7 hours a day for 4 continuous days at high altitudes on dry sandy terrain. On the fourth day, the trail will run into the highlands (average 4,100mt / 10,500ft) which is demanding given the altitude. Guides will always have oxygen tanks with them if someone feels sick.

Arriving in a good physical condition is fundamental for physical performance and morale.

Group size guiding staff

Guide to passenger ratio: 1:4, a maximum of 10 people per group.

Transport

In the Atacama, transportation is in minivans that normally seat between 8 to 14 people. When we have just 2 to 4 people, we use smaller vehicles, such as 4x4 vehicles. The vehicle will be for your use exclusively.

Weather

In the Atacama region, there are hot days and cold nights. The Atacama Desert is considered to be the driest place on earth and rain is rare most times of the year. However, it should be noted that between December and March, Bolivia's wet winter weather can sometimes cause unexpected rainfall in the Atacama.

  • Spring-Summer (October to March): Daytime temperatures usually range between 20 - 24°C (68-77°F). Nighttime temperatures will most likely range from 5 - 0°C (41 - 32°F)
  • Autumn-Winter (April to September): Daytime temperatures range from 15 -20°C (59-68°F). Nighttime temperatures will most likely be -10 - 0°C (14 - 32°F)

What you need to bring

A support vehicle will help us on days 2 to 6 to carry some of your personal belongings to the finish points each day. During the treks, you will only have to carry your daypack.
We will send you a complete packing list once your booking is confirmed. Some items we recommend are the following:
  • Underwear.
  • Long and short-sleeved shirts.
  • Hiking shoes.
  • Light and medium-weight socks.
  • Medium-weight fleece or wool sweater.
  • Jacket.
  • Gloves or mittens.
  • Shorts.
  • Sun hat.
  • Sunglasses Swimsuit. (for hot springs)
  • Towel.
  • Sandals.
  • Beach towel. (recommended)
  • Duffel Bag, sleeping bag, roll-up duffel*
  • Light Backpack. (30 - 40 lt)
  • Refillable Water bottle.
  • Hiking sticks. (recommended)
  • Moisturizing lotion. (desert air is very dry)
  • Sunscreen. (SPF 30 or higher)
  • Sunscreen lip protector. (SPF 30 or higher)
  • Personal first aid kit.
  • Swiss Army-type pocket knife with a can opener (pack in checked baggage)
  • Camera. (optional)
  • Binoculars. (recommended)
  • Toiletry Kit wet wipes .(biodegradable
    soap, toothbrush, and so on)

Itinerary modifications

We reserve the right to change the order of the days in any itinerary at the discretion of the trip guide and based on operational considerations. The trip guide can modify, change or eliminate part of the itinerary based on safety/weather considerations.

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We are a Chilean owned adventure tour operator, based in Santiago de Chile, operating adventure tours in Chile, Argentina and Bolivia. Our base prices are in Chilean Pesos (CLP), but we charge prices in USD based on the exchange rate valid on the day of payment.

Destinations | Chile

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