The perfect destination for your South America vacation, Chile offers travelers of all kinds a plethora of sights full of natural beauty, culture and history. The country’s coast spans over 2700 mi (4300 km) along the Pacific Ocean, while its eastern inland border is lined with mountain ranges. Offering a diverse range of landscapes, Chile is the perfect place for your outdoor exploration. Though many travelers find themselves in the south of Chile on a Patagonia tour, the north of Chile also offers spectacular natural beauty.
Travel to the Atacama Desert in the north of Chile during your vacation to explore this unique region. The vast Atacama stretches over 600 mi (970 km) and covers 40,600 square miles of northern Chile. Known for being one of the driest places on earth, travelers need not worry about getting wet during a trip to Atacama as most of the region receives less than a millimeter of rain a year. Offering travelers steaming geysers, hidden lagoons, barren yet beautiful landscapes, and salt flats, the Atacama Desert is a perfect destination to include in your Chile travel itinerary.
The ideal place to base your Atacama travel is in the small town of San Pedro de Atacama. Located in close proximity to some of Atacama’s best sights, this village-sized town is the perfect retreat after a day exploring the desert terrain. San Pedro offers lodging, restaurants, and shops for the visitor’s convenience. Providing typical hostel accommodations while also supplying 5-star hotels, San Pedro allows travelers on any budget the opportunity to stay and explore.
There are several sights worth visiting in the San Pedro area, such as the Tatio Geysers, the Valley of the Moon, and Salar de Atacama. The Tatio Geysers, which sit at almost 15,000 ft, some of the highest in the world, are spectacular. A must-see during your visit, the geysers are impressive at any time of the day, however if you want a truly unique experience visit at dawn. Fumaroles cover the land and release vapors which skirt across the desert floor and fill the sky with bright colors.
The perfect Atacama destination for your trip to Chile, the Valley of the Moon, is one of the closest sights to downtown San Pedro. Named after its lunar like landscapes which have been formed by thousands of years of harsh winds, the Valley of the Moon is simply beautiful. The terrain’s colors and formations create a striking contrast to the bright blue skies that are common in this area. The Valley of the Moon is also the perfect biking excursion from town as it is a mere 17 km away, however if you are going for sunset be advised it gets dark quickly and there are no lights along the route!
Perhaps one of the best places to visit in the Atacama, the salt flats found here stretch over 1,860 square miles and provide for some beautiful views. As the second largest salt flat in the world, travelers visiting the region must visit the Salar de Atacama. Especially spectacular at sunset, you can catch a glimpse of flamingos at one of the flat’s hidden lagoons or explore the hidden lake which lies under a thick mantle of salt.
The diverse beauty of the Atacama Desert makes it worth a stop on your Chile vacation. To learn more about the Atacama and how to incorporate it into your South America travel itinerary, contact one of our expert travel advisors.