The article is about the best things to do in Atacama desert which is a Desert Plateau located in South America. It is the driest non-polar desert on Earth that stretches across a rough 1000 kilometers ( from Southern Peru into Northern Chile) tract of land wedged between the coastal Cordillera De La Costa mountain range and the Andes Mountains. Dryness in some parts of the Atacama Desert is so severe that it can be compared to some places on Mars!
The closest airport to the Atacama Desert is in the small mining town of Calama, which is an hour’s drive away!
You’ll be surprised to know that one would expect the world’s driest desert to be desolate and abandoned, but it is home to around one million people! It is also one of the top three tourist destinations for visitors to Chile! Exciting, right?
Its ancient culture provides a warm welcome to modern travelers, and fertile oases maintain a remarkable diversity of life here in the Atacama Desert.
With over 40 volcanoes, the well-named Moon Valley and Death Valley, 15,000 square km of salt flats, geysers, and three mountain ranges, a one-day trip to the Atacama Desert is a short time to discover it all. Still, we are here to provide you with an itinerary that will make your one day tour without a guide the best one!
It is best to visit the Atacama Desert from September to November and March to May. This is the shoulder season which is the perfect time to visit due to the low number of tourists and marvel at the best things to do in Atacama desert. The temperature doesn’t go below the freezing point at night, making night activities like star-gazing and night photography tolerable.
Are you planning to travel without a guide but worried you’ll get lost? Worry no more! Our detailed step by step guide and the well-marked roads of Atacama Desert will keep you safe, and there will be no mishaps in your one-day plan!
Hire Your Mode Of Travel
Renting a bicycle is the most budget way to do sightseeing in the Atacama Desert, this way, you can visit the Moon Valley, Death Valley, Devil’s Throat, etc. You will see several places in the town where you can rent a bicycle; the cost will be $4-5 for half a day. Unfortunately, other landscapes are too far to go cycling!
The best option that is reliable and not too costly is renting a car! You can rent a car from Calama Airport. It will be flexible to travel in a vehicle as you can choose how long you want to stay at a specific place and where you want to go; with the well-marked roads, it will be a smooth traveling experience while exploring the best things to do in Atacama desert!
Cycling To Valley De La Luna (Moon Valley)
The entrance of the Valley is 6k away from the time and the best time to visit is first thing in the morning. So this will be your first spot. The entrance fee is CLP 3000/Us $4,5. The Valley was formed where the desert meets the Andes Mountains. When you reach here, the bizarre landscape will make you feel like you have stepped into another world! This place is famous for its caverns, rock, and sand formations. You can spend around 4 hours here.
Visiting The Valley De La Muerte
Valley de la Muerte is one of the best things to do in Atacama desert. It is also known as the Death Valley and has even more unique landscapes with less salt and sand and more clay formations, shaped by the wind and water for thousands of years. At sunset, this valley looks extraordinary, like a red planet!
The best place to see the sunset across the valley is Mirador de Kari. The entrance fee is CLP 5,500, and it is best to visit after touring the Moon Valley! This is the perfect place for sand during and speeding through the desert. You can spend around 5 hours here!
Visit Salar De Atacama
Let’s continue our list of the best things to do in Atacama desert.
Salar De Atacama is surrounded by the Andes Mountains, it is the largest salt flat in Chile. It is surrounded by mountains and has no drainage outlets.
There are two lagoons here in Salar De Atacama: Laguna Cejar and Laguna Tebinquinche. You can opt for Laguna Cejar if you have never floated in very salty water; it will be a thrilling experience.
The entrance fee will be CLP 15,000. However, if you have already had the experience of floating in salty water, it is better to go to Laguna Tebinquinche as it is strikingly beautiful towards the end of the day. It changes to many vibrant colors.
Ojos Del Salar One Of The Best Things To Do In Atacama Desert
After floating in the lagunas, with salt still stuck to your body, a refreshing dip will be the only thing on your mind! So visit the Ojos Del Salar-the eyes of the desert, a short drive away from Laguna Tebinquinche. There are huge and deep freshwater holes in the middle of the desert. No one knows how deep the water is!
Visit The Geyser Del Tatio
Here you can witness the Earth’s thermal energy escaping from the ground in the form of scalding hot steam. Follow the path around the largest craters, filled with bubbling volcanic water, and enjoy the effects of the light in the smoke-filled sky! You can dip in some of the warm geothermal water pools, it will be a treat in the cool weather!
From geyser del Tatio, you can even visit the surrounding villages like Caspana, to experience local Atcamanian life and customs. There will be many wildlife animals on the way so make sure to look out for flamingoes, vacûnas, ducks, foxes, and Andean Rabbits!
In the Atacama Desert, you’ll witness the clearest night skies in the world! Stargazing trips are organized several times during the night and cost £20+ per person for around 2 hours. With the help of strong telescopes, you will be able to view stars, constellations, and even galaxies! Isn’t that a fantastic experience? It will prove to be the best end to your day trip.
|Food||Fruits, nuts, protein bars.|
|Clothes||lightweight long sleeves shirts, jeans, hiking boots, warm clothes for the night, hiking socks, windbreaker, swimwear|
|Extras||sunscreen, first aid kit, torch, water bottle, sunglasses, sun hat, binoculars|
So, if you are interested in nature, active exploring, and witnessing a truly unusual part of the world, the best things to do in Atacama desert will be the next adventure of a lifetime to tick off your bucket list!
Follow our one-day plan that will assist you in traveling without a tour guide and explore the beauty of this magical place, we will be looking forward to your reviews!