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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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Audley Travel specialist Tamatha

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

    Our expert guides to exploring San Pedro de Atacama

    Written by our specialists from their own experiences of visiting San Pedro de Atacama, these guides will help you make the most of your time there. We share both our practical recommendations and the best ways to appreciate San Pedro de Atacama at its best.

    • What to do in Chile: our highlights guide
      A church in southern Patagonia, Chile

      What to do in Chile: our highlights guide

      What to do in Chile: our highlights guide

      Chile is a land of geographical contrasts, from the arid Atacama Desert to the peaks and glaciers of Patagonia. Cultural differences are equally stark as Spanish-built wooden churches on Chiloé Island vie for the visitor’s attention along with the incongruous and mysterious stone statues on Easter Island.

      9 min read

      Read this guide

    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
      Responsible Choice

      Tierra Atacama

      San Pedro de Atacama
      First Class
    • The pool at Hotel Altiplanico Atacama
      Responsible Choice

      Our Habitas

      San Pedro de Atacama

    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.

    • 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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    • 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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