Fun things to do in San Pedro de Atacama - Wapiti Travel

San Pedro de Atacama in Chile is a wonderful place to visit.   We enjoyed every minute of our 3-day long visit. Here we will share what’s the best time to visit San Pedro, how you get there, things to do in San Pedro de Atacama and the best San Pedro de Atacama hotels.

Things to do in San Pedro de Atacama

Best time to visit the Atacama desert

The Atacama Desert can be visited all year round. Every season does however have its advantages and disadvantages.

December until February is summer and high season. Expect pleasant day temperatures and warm nights but also a lot of people and high prices.

June until August is winter and low season. It’s a nice time to visit the Atacama desert. Most days will be sunny and clear. At night it can become quite cold ( -2 degrees Celsius) but if you bring a warm jacket or a windbreaker you will be fine. Another advantage is that it will be less crowded and prices will be lower.

Shoulder season ( September until November and March until May) is another good option. You will be able to enjoy nice temperatures during the day and at night the temperature doesn’t drop below zero. It will also be less crowded.

How to get to San Pedro de Atacama

There are several ways to get to San Pedro de Atacama.

You could fly to Calama, the closest city near San Pedro de Atacama and arrange a transfer to San Pedro de Atacama from Calama.

Another possibility is to rent a car. Renting a car gives you a lot of freedom and the advantage of discovering all the tourist attractions at your own peace.

Check for prices and availability on Rentalcars.com: BOOKING 

 

We didn’t rent a car ourselves but we heard from other people that the roads are in good shape and that it’s quite easy to drive to the main tourist attractions.

The easiest option would probably be to use one of the many buses that traverse South America.  Make sure to check the itineraries of the buses at the moment you arrange your travel plans, buses don’t go every day and you don’t want to be stuck for an extra day because of this.

We got a bus out of Salta to San Pedro Dea Atacama and more or less 10 hours later we arrived in San Pedro de Atacama.

From Salta we could have opted for a sleeper bus but as the trip is quite scenic we did not.   The bus will drive by the colorful mountain of Purmamarca and offers many beautiful views of the Altiplano.

Tours in San Pedro de Atacama

You can easily spend 3 days and longer in San Pedro.  San Pedro offers plenty of things to do and see for both the adventurous and less adventurous traveler.  Here we share the best San Pedro de Atacama tours.

Puritama Hot Springs

This is a nice and relaxing trip.  Take a nice, relaxing hot bath in the river and soak up the beauty of the surrounding nature.  The river forms several mini natural pools so you can choose a private pool of your own.  Nice to build in a moment of relaxation after several active days.  We enjoyed it!

The higher the pool the warmer the water.

 

More info and bookings: BOOKING

Moon Valley

During this excursion, you will visit several scenic spots, like the amphitheater, over the course of a half day.  Some of them involve some climbing in loose sand.  Nothing too demanding but be sure to wear comfortable shoes.  I couldn’t say which of the spots I liked most and I took hundreds of pictures.  Don’t miss this Moon Valley Chile tour when you’re in San Pedro De Atacama.

 Plan this excursion in the afternoon so that you can end watching the sunset over the Moon Valley.  A favorite spot is roadrunners rock.

More info and bookings: BOOKING

Cejar lagoon

The Cejar lagoon is a picturesque lagoon worth visiting. The lagoon beautifully reflects the surroundings.  Because it’s in the middle of a salt flat the water is salty enough to keep you floating.  So bring your swimwear if you want to experience how it feels to float on this lagoon. If you’re lucky enough you will be sharing the lagoon with some flamingos.  You’re warned however that the water will be cold.  Showers are present to rinse off the salt afterward.

 Entrance is quite expensive but cheaper in the morning and early afternoon

 

More info and booking: BOOKING

 

Devil’s throat

Check out Devil’s throat on a mountain bike.  This was the most adventurous excursion we took.  The scenery was pretty and was an ideal trail for a nice mountain bike ride.  I should add that I wouldn’t advise this excursion if you haven’t been on a mountain bike before.  The trail might be a little too challenging for a first-timer.

Star Gazing

Star Gazing on a cloudy night is not even half the fun so unfortunately this excursion got canceled.  It should be an interesting excursion however as we experienced some of the best starry skies a few days later in Uyuni.  Maybe a reason to go back in a few years 🙂

Tatio Geysers

With this excursion, you visit El Tatio, the third biggest Geyser field in the world.  This field houses around 80 active Geysers.  You could say you are walking on one of the biggest volcanoes on this planet, completely surrounded by geysers.

This excursion leaves early in the morning before sunrise.  Make sure to dress warmly, you head up to 4000 meters altitude and it’s very cold at that time of day.

More info and booking: BOOKING

We loved all of the excursions we did.

Best hotels in San Pedro de Atacama

San Pedro offers accommodation for every budget.  Prices range from 60$ to 1000$/night.  It was a hard choice and we spend many hours reading reviews of the various hotels.

We opted for the Cumbres hotel,  one of the more luxurious hotels as we were going to spend 2 nights in very basic hotels during our excursion to Uyuni and we wanted to spoil ourselves a bit before.

Here we will share 3 hotels in different price ranges.

Luxury hotel

Hotel icon

Explora Atacama

Explora Atacama Chile

Explora Atacama is a stunning all-inclusive hotel, beautiful, simple and elegant. Comfortable and attractive rooms with all amenities. Wonderful food and drinks. Very attentive staff and great excursions.  Very expensive but absolutely worth the price if you want to treat yourself and experience a once in a lifetime experience.

Check prices and availability: BOOKING

Premium Comfortable hotel

 Cumbres de San Pedro de Atacama

The Cumbres hotel turned out to be a good choice.  We had a large and comfortable room with an outside shower. In between excursions we could relax in the hotel’s wonderful pool and spa and in the evening we relished on the delicious food. We would definitely return. 

We had chosen an all-inclusive package assuming this would be a good deal.  It turned out that this was more expensive than booking everything separately.  This situation was promptly rectified by the hotel once we made them aware of it.  We added this hotel to our list of unique accommodations.

Check prices and availability: BOOKING

Comfortable hotel

Hotel icon

Hotel Pascual Andino

Hotel Pascual Andino Atacama Chile

Hotel Pascual Andino has a good location a block away from the main street. The hotel has nicely decorated and comfortable rooms, good wifi and a little pool. Highly recommended.

Check prices and availability:BOOKING

If you aren’t convinced of these hotels, you will find a lot of other hotels in Atacama on booking.com.  Check prices and availability here: BOOKING 

One last tip

Make sure your body has the time to adapt to the height in the Atacama desert

This is a beautiful destination but you don’t want to see it ruined because of altitude sickness in the Atacama desert.  Unfortunately some of the people we met there were sick all day.  Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do about it but there’re some precautions you can take:

  • Go up in stages and make sure to take some days to adapt to the height before doing any activities
  • Make sure to drink enough
  • Don’t smoke
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Take some coco leaves with you, drink coco thee or have some medication like Diamox

 

In our next blog we will take you along on our journey towards Uyuni. And there are no words or pictures that describe the beauty of the Uyuni Salt Flats but we have tried it anyway.

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