Guide to

San Pedro de Atacama

Chile’s high desert

The Atacama Desert

Picturesque San Pedro de Atacama stands as an oasis in the midst of the world’s driest desert, where geological evidence suggests that certain areas have never experienced rainfall.  A rich pre-Colombian history dating back thousands of years lives on today in traditional artisan crafts and a renowned archaeological museum, while the looming presence of the Licancabur Volcano, expansive salt flats dotted with pink flamingoes, majestic purple and orange sunsets over the jagged horizon, and second-to-none stargazing bring new meaning to the phrase “natural wonder.”

The colors of the desert

Sunrises and sunsets bring the desert’s colors to life – reds, browns, oranges, yellows. Get up early and watch the blazing sun rise over the jagged ridges at Valle de la Muerta; it’s spectacular and you won’t regret it.

Desert flavors

Don’t forget to try a Rica Rica Sour (or Rica Rica flavored ice cream), made from the aromatic medicinal herb, Rica Rica, native to the altiplano region. It’s a local specialty and quite delicious.

Clear skies for miles

You’ve never seen the night skies like this. No trip to Atacama is complete without a night of relaxed star gazing. Go to an observatory or just lay down outside and look up. This is the spectacular view from Alto Atacama’s private observatory.

When to Visit

March to December for the clearest skies.

We recommend against visiting in January and February due to the ‘Bolivian Winter’ that produces cloudy days and rain.


Direct flight from Santiago (SCL) to Calama (CJC): 2 hrs

Drive from Calama to San Pedro de Atacama: 1.5 hrs

Good to know

Language: Spanish Currency: Chilean Peso (CLP) Visas/fees: Travel to Chile does not require a visa for US/US/EU/CAN/AUS travelers. AUS citizens must pay a reciprocity fee.

What to do in San Pedro de Atacama

Trip Inspiration

San Pedro de Atacama’s Natural + Cultural Wonders >>


Flamingos in the National Reserve

Upscape Moments

Horseback ride through the sand dunes

Upscape Moments

Cycling or hiking through the Moon Valley

Upscape Moments

Indigenous Artisan Experience at Ayllu de Coyo

Ready to go? Here’s what to pack

The Atacama Desert has one of the driest climates in the world and is at elevation, both things you should consider in packing for your trip.

  • Hiking footwear
  • A jacket for nights
  • Chapstick and moisturizer
  • Convertible hiking pants/shorts
  • Sunblock and protection, including sunglasses

Travel tunes: Playlists for Chile’s Desert

Where to stay: Overnight Recommendations

Tierra Atacama Resort And Spa At San Pedro De Atacama In Norther

Tierra Atacama

The vibe: 1920’s glam The location: Historic and charming Barrio (neighborhood) Lastarria Good for: History buffs and those who appreciate architecture

Pool At Explora Atacama

Explora Atacama

The vibe: Stylish, avant-garde decor The location: Historic and charming Barrio (neighborhood) Lastarria Good for: Those who appreciate design and great cocktails

Hotel Room At Awasi Atacama

AWASI Atacama

The vibe: Elegant, tranquil retreat The location: Historic and charming Barrio (neighborhood) Lastarria Good for: Those looking for all of the amenities, including a luxe spa

Room At Altiplanico In San Pedro De Atacama


The vibe: Peaceful and private The location: Historic and charming Barrio (neighborhood) Lastarria Good for: Those looking for a tranquil retreat and small-hotel vibes

Tips from our Team

  • The beauty of the Atacama Desert is that due to its climate, it is a great destination all year long. We recommend against January and February due to the “Bolivian winter”, which produces cloudy days and rain.
  • Be mindful of altitude and the time you need to aclimatize