Reasons to Visit
Endlessly referred to as the "driest desert in the world" the Atacama is a great base for the outdoor enthusiast. Mountain biking, walking, visits to salt pans and bubbling geysers are just a few of the possibilities whilst staying here.
The bottom third of Chile is home to numerous fjords, islets, archipelagos and peninsulas to explore. There is no better (in fact no other!) way to explore these fascinating territories than by taking to the water. Whether it is exploring the northern ice fields, travelling down through fjords or cruising around the southern tip of South America to Cape Horn there is a journey to suit all interests.
The most famous National Park in Chile and all of Patagonia, Torres del Paine is remote, rugged and windswept. The eponymous "Torres" or towers and uniquely smooth and twisted cuernos (horns) of the Paine Massif are unforgettable. Once there, the incredible landscape is waiting to be explored, either by foot, boat, bike, horse or vehicle.
By comparison to neighbouring countries, Chilean roads are generally a good standard and well-signed, making it an excellent choice for self drive. Opportunities extend from heading out of Santiago, through the Winelands down to the pretty Lake District through to self-exploration of the Patagonian Steppe around Torres del Paine National Park.
The mighty Andes create a magnificent natural border between Chile and neighbouring Argentina, running the full length of the country. They loom up from the Pacific providing a breathtaking backdrop to desert, vineyard and glacier and isolating the Chilean people from most of the rest of the continent.
From gentle strolls in the lush green hills of the Lake District, to hiking a volcano in the Atacama or climbing to the base of the famous towers in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile offers some of the best opportunities in Latin America for walking and trekking at all levels.
Chile has been making wine for over 400 years and now produces some of the best Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in the world. It is also very reasonably priced. Chile's most famous vineyards and wineries are generally located in the valleys around Santiago and make excellent day trips from the city whilst many have their own accommodation.
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The day begins by heading south from San Pedro de Atacama to Cejar Lagoon (the floating lagoon). This small lagoon has impressive white edges of crystallised salt and is intensely turquoise in colour, providing a home for flamingos and tagua birds.
The day begins by heading south from San Pedro de Atacama to Cejar Lagoon (the floating lagoon). This small lagoon has impressive white edges of crystallised salt and is intensely turquoise in colour, providing a home for flamingos and tagua birds. It's also a nice place for a swim as the salt allows the body to float.
After a dip you will head on to the Salar de Atacama visiting the picturesque village of Toconao en-route. The houses, church and bell tower of the village are built of white volcanic stone which lends the town its unique appearance.
You arrive at Salar de Atacama, the world's largest salt lake. Rich in minerals including borax and lithium, it is home to various species of birds including flamingos.
The Laguna Chaxa, part of the Reserva Nacional de Flamingoes, offers a wonderful opportunity to get closer to these beautiful birds in their natural habitat.
The day will end back in San Pedro.
An oasis town of narrow streets and adobe houses, San Pedro de Atacama is an excellent base for desert trips.
San Pedro de Atacama
739 miles away in Santiago
Include Laguna Cejar & Salar de Atacama on your tailor-made trip around Chile by contacting one of our specialists...
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Further reading:Tours in ChileWhen to GoHighlightsItinerary IdeasPlaces to GoThings to DoAccommodationAbout ChileCountry Guides
Other countries in South America:ArgentinaBoliviaBrazilColombiaEcuadorGuyanaParaguayPeruThe Falkland IslandsThe Galapagos IslandsUruguayVenezuela
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