Chile: Atacama Desert

Trip Highlights

Description

A dramatic journey across the Andes to the driest desert in the world, the Atacama in northern Chile: volcanoes, flamingo, and stargazing.

Tour info

Duration
3+ days
Group Size
1 to 4
Price starts at
300 USD pp
Languages
English, Spanish
Meeting Point

We can start or finish the trip in Salta or San Pedro: or do a round trip from either location.

Dropoff location

Salta or San Pedro de Atacama.

Why take this tour?

If starting from Salta, we head north along the old mountain road to San Salvador de Jujuy, and up into the stunning multi-coloured Quebrada de Humahuaca. Highlights here include a pre-Inca fort at Tilcara, numerous old colonial churches, and a Spanish fort now converted into a museum dedicated to the War of Independence. And of course, there’s the famous Seven Coloured Hill in Purmamarca which we’ll see in its best (morning) light, climbing up to a superb viewpoint which takes us away from the crowds.

 

From Purmamarca, the road winds up to a peak of 4,200m: a spectacular ascent of the outer Eastern range of the Andes, before descending to the Salinas Grandes salt flats. After a stop for the obligatory reality-defying photos, we press on to the high altitude town of Susques (3,615m), home to the second oldest church in Argentina, a simple adobe structure dating from 1598.

 

The following day, we head west through the panoramic landscape of the Olaroz and Cauchari salt flats to the Paso de Jama on the Chilean frontier. After crossing the border, we reach the Salar de Tala with its blue-black lagoon, and the giant volcanic ignimbrite blocks in the Reserva Natural de los Flamencos, known as the Moai of Tara because of their similarity to the famous standing stones of Easter Island. Finally, a breath-taking descent into San Pedro de Atacama, jealously guarded by the majestic volcano of Licancabur.

 

Heading back to Salta again after your Atacama desert tours, we take the slow road south past Lascar volcano and explore the high-altitude Altiplano lagoons of Miscanti and Miniques, enjoying some fantastic views of the Salar de Atacama as we climb the Andes mountain range.

This lesser trod route via the Paso de Sico also takes in the stunning Salar of Talar and Laguna Tuyajto. Back on the Argentine side, we will spend the night in the Puna town of San Antonio de los Cobres (3,770m) and visit the famous viaduct of La Polvorilla, where the Train to the Clouds finishes its journey.

On the final day, we'll return to Salta through the colourful and panoramic landscape of the Quebrada del Toro, taking in the pre-Inca ruins of Tastil along the way. If you’ve still got the energy, we can also hike a little-explored section of Argentina's Inca trail.

 

Our seven day itinerary allows for two full days enjoying the best of San Pedro de Atacama tours, but you can add on as many days there as you like and we'll be ready to bring you back to Salta or organise your onward journey.

 

Read our guide to San Pedro de Atacama here.

Included

  • Local Tour Guide

  • Own Private Vehicle

Excluded

  • Food

  • Water

  • Accommodation

Things to know

Your Budget

Argentina has a parallel economy in which the official rate of the dollar is roughly half its real value. What that means is you need to leave your bank cards for emergencies and bring US$ or euros in cash which we can change into pesos for your everyday expenses. You’ll find Salta city is a lo...

Argentina has a parallel economy in which the official rate of the dollar is roughly half its real value. What that means is you need to leave your bank cards for emergencies and bring US$ or euros in cash which we can change into pesos for your everyday expenses. You’ll find Salta city is a lot cheaper than Buenos Aires, and your holiday in Argentina is even better value once we take you on the road on one of our trips. Read our guide to the "Blue Dollar" here.

Covid-19

Our tour company conforms to national guidelines on Covid-19. Social distancing of 1.5m is recommended, and the use of protective hand masks is mandatory in enclosed public areas. Within our vehicles (normally 4x4 pick-ups), we will provide masks and sanitizer, and temperature checks for travelle...

Our tour company conforms to national guidelines on Covid-19. Social distancing of 1.5m is recommended, and the use of protective hand masks is mandatory in enclosed public areas. Within our vehicles (normally 4x4 pick-ups), we will provide masks and sanitizer, and temperature checks for travellers during our trips. Transportation vehicles and all equipment are regularly sanitized between use.

Accommodation & Food

Double rooms at the privately owned B&Bs and small hotels we work with start from US$50 per night. You can eat well in some of the simple rustic places we use where you will be rubbing shoulders with the locals for less than US$10 per person. And splashing out on a three-course meal with wine...

Double rooms at the privately owned B&Bs and small hotels we work with start from US$50 per night. You can eat well in some of the simple rustic places we use where you will be rubbing shoulders with the locals for less than US$10 per person. And splashing out on a three-course meal with wine in a smart restaurant is unlikely to set you back more than US$50 for a couple.

Pricing

Below are our daily rates for Argentina holidays, all with your own private vehicle and English-speaking guide. Prices are per person excluding food and accommodation:

One person - US$350
Two people - US$200
Three people- US$150
Four people (one vehicle) - US$125
Fo...

Below are our daily rates for Argentina holidays, all with your own private vehicle and English-speaking guide. Prices are per person excluding food and accommodation:

One person - US$350
Two people - US$200
Three people- US$150
Four people (one vehicle) - US$125
Four people (two vehicles) - US$200

Prices are per person and valid until 31 December 2022

Contact us for discounts on trips during May and June.

Group Size

We operate with comfortable 4x4s which can accommodate up to four people, but if you’re travelling with a larger group, please contact us and we will see what we can arrange.

We operate with comfortable 4x4s which can accommodate up to four people, but if you’re travelling with a larger group, please contact us and we will see what we can arrange.

Trip Options

The price of US$300 per person is based on a three-day one-way transfer with four people travelling. The seven-day trip outlined here starts at US$627pp.

The price of US$300 per person is based on a three-day one-way transfer with four people travelling. The seven-day trip outlined here starts at US$627pp.

Inquire about this trip now