14 Nov San Pedro de Atacama – the hot spot of northern Chile
In recent years, San Pedro has developed into a real “place to be”; Tourists from all over the world descend on the desert village in the north of Chile virtually all year round; Is the “hype” now justified? We were on site for 5 days and experienced the following; San Pedro has managed to turn an abandoned village in the Atacama Desert into a tourist magnet; Even today, the town is not a “picture-book village” that could win a beauty award; But colorful facades, a few nice cafés, lots of more or less good restaurants, accommodation at (almost) any price offer what almost all tourists want: A decent infrastructure
In addition, San Pedro is relatively easy to reach from Santiago de Chile by night bus or plane (via Calama) The whole thing is rounded off by what feels like 50 travel agencies, almost all of which offer the same excursions; So if you don’t want to rent a car in Calama, you can hop on a tourist bus every morning and be chauffeured to various sights; Of course, this has its price; Like everything else in San Pedro, the excursions are no bargain; The tours range from 40 – 80 euros per person, depending on their length; Therefore, you might want to rent a car in Calama and drive to the spots on your own.
This brings me to the next (annoying) point: as we discovered on our first stage, the Chileans are world champions when it comes to bureaucracy. For individual excursions (not as part of an organized tour!), every sight, no matter how small, must be reserved in advance via various websites and paid for online. At first we thought that this would somehow make it easier to coordinate and channel the “masses of people”. But on almost all of our excursions we met a maximum of 10 other tourists on site; It is therefore obvious that it is not desirable to visit the spots independently; But all in all, we still recommend a visit to San Pedro, as the “Atacama feeling” is easy to get here.
Among the many excursions on offer, here are our 3 favorites, all of which you can also visit on your own:
- El Tatio – the highest geyser field in the world (at 4200m). Super cold up there, as you can only admire the active geysers early in the morning
- the Miscanti and Miniques lagoons Magnificent blue lagoons amidst high Andean peaks
- a night trip to the Valle de la Luna to enjoy the magnificent starry sky (no light pollution)