A MOONSCAPE ON EARTH
4 days in San Pedro de Atacama:
The quick guide
The Atacama Desert is one of those places on earth that you have to go see for yourself to appreciate its unique beauty.
The driest desert in the world is so much more than just sand dunes. Its sceneries range from volcanoes to geysers and from lakes to sand valleys. Unique and diverse but all equally mesmerising.
San Pedro de Atacama is the perfect base camp to discover and explore the beauty of this region. A cute little desert town with a holiday vibe and all types of accommodation, restaurants and shops for every type of traveller. We would recommend at least four days in San Pedro to make sure you can take advantage of all the activities available, we promise it will be worth it!.
Splash out at Tierra Atacama
Exquisite design meets incredible views and top-notch service at Tierra Atacama, one of the best boutique hotels in the desert town. Each room is beautifully designed with big open windows so you can enjoy the evening sky from your bed. They arrange all type of excursions for guests and when you don’t feel like adventuring you can relax in the epic spa.
Take it easy at Domos Los Abuelos
These little round houses look like desert igloos neatly arranged alongside one another. They come with private bathrooms or without, but all come with a hammock and a little table outside to enjoy the sunny afternoons in San Pedro. A wonderful breakfast is served by the reception and a small but enjoyable pool is available for everyone’s use.
Take it easy at Aji Verde Hostal
A viby hostel with private rooms, dorms and tepees conveniently located close to San Pedro’s bus station. There is a nice garden with hammocks, a ping pong table and barbecue. You can book any of the tours with the hostel and they’ll take care of the organization.
Where to sleep in
San Pedro de Atacama
Where to eat in San Pedro de Atacama
Breakfast at Panaderia Franchutería
This is a must try for its uniqueness and deliciousness. A real French bakery and cafe opened by a real french person in the heart of San Pedro. Basically a mirage as it feels like you are sitting in a boulangerie in Paris! The baguettes are authentic and incredible and you can have breakfast with pain au chocolate and cafe au lait.
Lunch at Barros Cafe
We were drawn inside by the jazz music playing in the background and the lovely white and turquoise interior decor. This small cafe has a open air deck from where you can enjoy lunch, drinks or afternoon tea.
Dinner at La Casona
We spent my birthday dinner in this wonderful local restaurant, eating rich local dishes by the fire at the sound of live music being played by a local jazz band. Everything was perfect. The food is carefully presented, the beauty of the room with its late century details and the vibe of the music were all perfect.
Top 5 things to do in San Pedro de Atacama
Our recommendation would be to rent a car at Europecar in San Pedro instead of using the organized tours. You will save money and be much more flexible in terms of timing. To rent the car you will need your passport, driver’s licence and a credit card for deposit of 1 million pesos (roughly 1,300 euros)
Valle de La Luna: rent a bicycle at your hostel or a car and make your way to Valle de La Luna around 2pm and stay for sunset. Visiting Valle de la Luna is like landing on the Moon, or Mars. The landscape is a mix of sand dunes, salt rocks, mountains and volcanoes in the shades of pink, beige and browns. The sun is unforgiving during the day but the moment it starts setting it will gift you with the most awe-inspiring spectacle. The mountains in the backdrop first turn ocra, then pink and finally the whole sky fires up in oranges and purples. Otherworldly and unforgettable. (Entrance: 3,000 pesos)
Geyser el Tatio: the mix of minus zero temperatures and pre-sunrise hours will test your resilience but be reassured that a visit to the Geyser el Tatio is worth the struggle! Get there before the sun rises to see these majestic explosions of hot steam coming out of the earth. If you are brave enough you can even swim in one of the (luke) warm natural hot springs. (Entrance: 7,000 pesos)
Termas Puritama: the highlight of our visit was spending time in this insanely picturesque natural hot springs set within a valley. The hot water has been channelled to flow down rocks and create eight natural pools framed by tall grass. The water is very warm and the setting is so pleasant that you can spend hours relaxing and enjoying the natural jacuzzis. (Entrance: 15,000 pesos)
Lagunas Chaxa and Cejar: within the Atacama salt flats there are several lagunas, small and big ponds of very salty water that look like a mirage in this desert landscape. Laguna Chaxa is the most vast. Home to the first type of microorganism that ever existed on the planet, it can be visited following a path with some stunning views of volcanoes in the background. While laguna Cejar, is definitely the most fun as you can swim, or better float in it thanks to the high quantity of salt. (Entrance: Laguna Chaxa 3.000 pesos, Laguna Cejar 15,000 pesos)
San Pedro: the little town is worth a walk through to visit the main square, the little church and browse around the shops. Make sure to stop at Heladeria Tierra Del Sol for the best ice-cream in town and try the flavour ‘platano majar’.