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Eerie, austere, remote yet beautiful, no more so than at sunrise and sunset when the surfaces and the skies turn all manner of improbable hues of orange, crimson and gold, Chile’s Atacama Desert is so dry that there are many parts of it in which no rainfall has ever been recorded.

Exploring the Atacama Desert

After flying into the city of Calama, a mining town with Chuquicamata, the largest open cast mine in the world in the hills behind it, travel by road through rolling swathes of parched lunar landscape to the welcoming oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama, the base for explorations into the desert.

Valle de la Muerte, near San Pedro de Atacama, ChileFrom here you will join small guided groups to marvel at the Atacama’s natural spectacles, and to explore archeological sites; ancient mummies, geoglyphs, and crumbling ghost towns.

Rise before dawn to drink your morning coffee at the world’s highest geothermal field, and watch the steam from your cup rise along with the spurting fumaroles of the Tatio geysers.

Pick your way across the crunchy salt flats to spot the pink flamingos; photograph the vivid colors of the Miscanti and Meñique Lagoons, and climb the sweeping sand dunes of the Valley of the Moon to watch the sun set, turning them scarlet as it goes.

The Atacama Desert is an active person’s paradise, offering unique terrain through which to hike, cycle or horse ride, but it is also entirely accessible to those wishing to investigate it by vehicle, with the excellent hotel options offering total relaxation after an awe-inspiring day’s exploration.

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who's been there
Rachel, an Audley Travel specialist

Start planning your tailor-made trip to the Atacama Desert by calling one of our Chile specialists at 617-223-4950

Suggested itineraries featuring the Atacama Desert

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in the Atacama Desert, 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.

Accommodation choices for the Atacama Desert

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

Map of the Atacama Desert

Places & hotels on the map

    Places in and around the Atacama Desert