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An oasis town of narrow streets and adobe houses, San Pedro de Atacama is an excellent base for desert trips.

Set at an altitude of 2,400 meters between the desert and the high altiplano, this town has been an important settlement since pre-Hispanic times, as it was a stop between the trading communities of the coast and the mountains. It then became an important rest stop for traders during the nitrate era, before its present incarnation as a friendly base for travelers.


The Atacama Desert itself, in which San Pedro is located, has been described as a 'perfect' desert as there are areas of it where no rainfall has ever been recorded. It is a strange landscape that stretches over 1,200 km, a surreal and barren region of volcanoes, salt flats, cacti, moon-like valleys, geysers and remote villages.

Archaeological history

Pukara de QuitorThere is also a rich archaeological history here, this region was located on traditional trade routes and has thus seen various ancient empires rise and fall. The arid climatic conditions have perfectly preserved a number of archaeological artifacts, ranging from petroglyphs to seven thousand year old mummies.

Also preserved in the desert are a number of eerie ghost towns, dating from the 19th century nitrate boom.

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who's been there

Audley Travel specialist Olivia

Start planning your tailor-made trip to San Pedro de Atacama by contacting one of our Chile specialists

Suggested itineraries featuring San Pedro de Atacama

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in San Pedro de Atacama, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of San Pedro de Atacama

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near San Pedro de Atacama

    Accommodation choices for San Pedro de Atacama

    We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit San Pedro de Atacama. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    • Tierra Atacama, San Pedro de Atacama

      Tierra Atacama

      First Class

      The Tierra Atacama is a real haven after a day out exploring in the Atacama desert.

    • Alto Atacama, San Pedro de Atacama

      Alto Atacama

      First Class

      The location of the Alto Atacama, in a valley surrounded by deep red mountains, gives the hotel a real feeling of serenity and remoteness.

    • The pool at Hotel Altiplanico Atacama

      Hotel Altiplanico


      The Altiplanico has real character and individuality, and each of the 16 rooms is in fact its own little rustic ‘house’.

    • Casa Atacama

      Casa Atacama


      Casa Atacama is located a short walk from San Pedro's main square and its shops and restaurants.

    • Standard Room, Poblado de Kimal

      Poblado do Kimal


      The Poblado de Kimal is a relatively new hotel to San Pedro de Atacama, offering attractive and comfortable accommodation in the center of town.

    • Awasi, San Pedro de Atacama

      Awasi Atacama


      Awasi is a beautiful retreat made up of eight cottages, once used by cattle drivers and shepherds for shelter.

    • Hotel Kimal, San Pedro de Atacama

      Hotel Kimal


      The Kimal is located just off the main street, Caracoles, but nevertheless feels like an oasis thanks to its pretty maze of courtyards planted with flowers and shrubs and its spacious, cool interior.

    Ideas for experiencing San Pedro de Atacama

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting San Pedro de Atacama, and which use the best local guides.

    • Laguna Cejar & Salar de Atacama
      Volcano Licancabur from San Pedro de Atacama

      Laguna Cejar & Salar de Atacama

      Laguna Cejar & Salar de Atacama

      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 crystallized salt and is intensely turquoise in color, providing a home for flamingos and tagua birds.

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    • Astronomical Tour
      Sunrise, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

      Astronomical Tour

      Astronomical Tour

      Join a shared excursion to observe the vast night skies of the Atacama Desert. The altitude of the town as well as the remote location makes this one of the best spots for astronomy, for both amateurs and experts alike.

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