Top Ten Chile Classic Adventures

Experience the High Desert
San Pedro de Atacama
Get cross: Chile's high desert

High rolling plains—laid out at an altitude of over 14,000 feet—dotted with broad shallow salt lakes at the foot of volcanoes: that's what makes the high desert a special place. West of the port of Antofagasta, these plains are home to large populations of breeding birds like the flamingo, Andean gull, and giant coot. But the best reason to visit? The world's highest geyser field at El Tatio. At daybreak, the sprawling field is an otherworldly landscape of steaming fumaroles. The colonial village of San Pedro de Atacama is the primary base for excursions into destinations like the polychrome Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon), pre-Columbian ruins at Quitor and Catarpe, and flamingo breeding sites at high-altitude salt lakes like Laguna Chaxa and Laguna Miniques. San Pedro also has a wide range of accommodations and restaurants. The sun shines all year, but nights are cool—and cold in winter.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »