"San Pedro de Atacama" Top 5 Page for this destination San Pedro de Atacama by SanguiniA

San Pedro de Atacama Travel Guide: 225 reviews and 635 photos

"At certain oases the desert is only a mirage"
- Mario Benedetti

San Pedro de Atacama is the gringo mecca in Chile - with lots of backpackers and a staggering amount of tour agencies. I usually don't like touristy places, but this has to be my favourite village in the world and after almost a couple of weeks based there I didn't want to leave! It is said that many a backpacker came here and never left ...

San Pedro is an oasis town at an elevation of about 2400m in the middle of the Atacama desert. A chain of mammoth volcanos (some well over 5000m) rise majestically from the desert on it's eastern side - these are part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. In fact the area around San Pedro has one of the highest concentrations of volcanos in the world making for a spectacular and diverse landscape which will reward travellers for days on end.

The buildings in the village itself are all traditional adobe and there is nothing multi-story or modern-looking in sight. The food in it's many restaurants is to die for, and the relaxed way of life in the village is addictive. It is also allegedly sunny for 360 days a year, though we did incredibly experience rain and snowstorms in the area which suprised even the locals, especially since it was winter time and thus the dry season.

Now for the lowdowns - the obvious one is that with it's popularity, this place is relatively expensive (shockingly so compared to other places in South America like Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru). Another thing, is that at night temperatures plummet to freezing, especially in Winter. No matter how warm the day is, at night it is always freezing or below freezing.

My tips for this place is to plan to stay for at least a week and have the budget to take lots of tours. There are so many spectacular places to see and do around San Pedro - this is not the place for being frugal. While taking a tour is not the ideal kind of travel for some people (including me) there is really not much option. If you are a group of 4 or more, renting a car from nearby Calama (no car rental in San Pedro) might be cost-effective. But get a good map of the are because the roads are not signposted properly. Also another tip is that if you plan to do the Uyuni tour from Bolivia, see the sights around San Pedro first for 2 reasons: 1) it gives you time to acclimatize, 2) the sights in Bolivia are better and best saved for last ;-)

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Unforgettable sceneries and activities
  • Cons:Not surprisingly - Touristy!
  • In a nutshell:My favourite village in the whole world :)
  • Last visit to San Pedro de Atacama: Jul 2009
  • Intro Updated Dec 8, 2009
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Reviews (24)

Comments (3)

  • Mar 10, 2010 at 10:32 PM

    this just became my fave page on vt. simply adored your photos, and loved the descriptions of this magical region. well done on fantatic page!

  • Francenko's Profile Photo
    Dec 26, 2009 at 1:52 PM

    Che bello, é tornata la Alison!:)) Ancora e sempre all'avventura... auguri di un grande 2010!:)

  • calcaf38's Profile Photo
    Dec 18, 2009 at 8:52 PM

    Alison, your travelogue is amazing. I've never seen anything like this, even in photos!

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