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Highlights of the Atacama

Take in the stunning scenery of the Atacama – the world's driest desert. Explore its other-worldly valleys and rock formations, shimmering high altitude lagoons, vast salt flats that reflect the sky and geothermal fields with geysers spouting steam from the depths of the earth. This is a great add-on to any trip to Chile at any time of year.

Are you hoping to travel before March 2023?

Patagonia's a big trip and we know how crucial it is to get it right. As you’re considering travelling in the next couple of months, we want to be upfront with you…

Finding available accommodation is proving almost impossible in Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares National Parks. While not uncommon, the pandemic has exacerbated the situation this year.

Alongside this, Swoop are also currently focused on ensuring that all of the logistics are in place for our booked travellers who are due to head south shortly.

Swoop has therefore decided to no longer accept any new bookings departing before the beginning of March 2023.

As alternative options, here’s what we suggest:

Option A:

Push your trip back and choose to travel instead in early 2023. April onwards has more accommodation options still available. The Patagonian autumnal colours are stunning and trails less crowded.

Option B:

Defer your Patagonia adventure by 12 months, benefitting by getting exactly the trip you want without compromise, and lock in plans now while there’s still good availability.

If you are able to be flexible on your travel dates, the next step would then be for us to arrange a time to talk through the options.

  • I want to travel before March 2023

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  • I’m flexible and could travel later

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Trip type

Private

Trip length

4 Days

From

$819

Location

Other

Highlights of the Atacama - 4 - $819

Trip Summary and Itinerary Map

Day 1: Transfer to San Pedro de Atacama

Day 2: Atacama Salt Flat and Altiplanic Lagoons

Day 3: El Tatio Geysers

Day 4: Moon Valley; Transfer to Calama Airport

Start from Calama and end at Calama

Landmarks visited on Highlights of the Atacama

Operator's Itinerary

Day 1: Transfer to San Pedro de Atacama

After arriving at Calama Airport, you'll be taken by a shared transfer to your hotel in the colourful village of San Pedro de Atacama, passing the impressive rock formations of the Cordillera de la Sal (Salt Mountains) on the way. San Pedro is located 2,440m above sea level in the middle of a vast Andean plain.

You'll be free this afternoon to enjoy the village on your own, soaking up the relaxed atmosphere in Bohemian San Pedro. The town has many wonderful restaurants to choose from.

Accommodation: Hotel in San Pedro


Day 2: Atacama Salt Flat and Altiplanic Lagoons

This full day starts with you heading towards the Atacama Salt Flat, the 3rd largest in the world, where you can see two or three different pink species of flamingos at the Chaxa Lagoons. You'll then visit the stunning Miscanti and Miñiques Altiplanic Lagoons at an altitude of 4,200m. Their intensely blue-coloured waters contrast strikingly with the volcanoes that tower above them.

You'll have lunch in a local restaurant and a stroll around the charming town of Socaire, famous for its agricultural terraces.

The afternoon begins with a visit to the settlement of Toconao, constructed from volcanic rock and enjoying spectacular views of the Atacama Salt Flat. Finish the day with a brief hike to Quebrada de Jerez, a lush area of vegetation located in the middle of the desert, before returning to your hotel in San Pedro. Today's excursion will take your breath away, both because of the amazing views and thin air at altitude.

Excursion: Full day excursion with a private guide

Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Accommodation: Hotel in San Pedro


Day 3: El Tatio Geysers

Before dawn, your guide will collect you to head north, about 1.5hrs along a dirt road, to the famous El Tatio Geysers – a geothermal field flanked by soaring peaks. El Tatio is situated at 4,300m above sea level on the Bolivian border and is the highest geothermal field in the world. It's just about as 'in the middle of nowhere' as you can get.

On the way there, we'll stop at the farming village of Machuca - an historic resting place for llama caravans that traveled the Inca Highway.

At the El Tatio geyser field, you'll be able to watch the geyser erupt and the brilliant salt crystals reflect around the steaming pools. We'll also visit Geyser Blanco where some hardy souls even try to dip in the cooler pools.

We'll then return to San Pedro de Atacama before lunch and enjoy the afternoon at leisure.

Excursion: Half day excursion with a private guide

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Hotel in San Pedro


Day 4: Moon Valley; Transfer to Calama Airport

Around 6.30am we'll head to the beatiful Salt Mountain Range where we'll have breaksfast while watching the sunrise. We'll then embark on our final hike, into the vast Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley). Here we'll walk beside sand dunes until we reach a viewpoint from where we'll have stunning views of the unique landscapes, intensified by the morning sun.

On the way back to the hotle, we'll stop to spend some time with two local families for a taste of typical Atacameñan products and learn about the history, culture and challenges of San Pedro de Atacama.

In the afteroon you'll take a shared transfer from your hotel in San Pedro de Atacama to Calama Airport, ready for departure or onward travel. We recommend a flight departing after 2pm as the excursion will end around 11.30am.

Meals: Breakfast

Customer review background image

What our customers think of Highlights of the Atacama

Highlights of the Atacama trips scored 4.6/5 from 4 reviews

Standing on top of an empty Atacama Desert hill. Seeing no end to an horizon. And in absolute silence, surrounded by absolute beauty.

Travelled: December 2021

Hans Van Tartwijk - USA

What a fantastic contrast to the Patagonian area. We had the perfect sunset at Death Valley, the sunrise swim in the hot springs at the Tatio geysers was definitely a highlight and the geysers and scenery stunning.

Travelled: December 2018

Lena Altinger - Australia

Review:

Prices, Departures and Inclusions

Two people sharing a standard hotel room: USD $819 per person.

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Please contact us to discuss your preferred dates.

Additional Notes

Final trip price – This will depend on the exchange rate on the day of booking.

Accommodation – The accommodation on this itinerary can be modified. Please see our guide to Atacama hotels for more information.

Single supplementPlease enquire.

Excursions – The excursions are run on a small-group basis with a maximum of 10 people per group.

Private trip – This trip can be run privately if required. Please get in touch for more information about this option.

Includes

  • Meals: 3 breakfasts, 1 lunch
  • Accommodation: 3 nights in hotel in San Pedro
  • Shared airport transfer, with guide, from Calama Airport to San Pedro de Atacama
  • Shared airport transfer, driver only, from San Pedro de Atacama to Calama Airport
  • English-speaking guide for excursions
  • Entrance fees

Excludes

  • Meals not indicated in itinerary
  • Drinks during lunch or dinner
  • Any extra/optional excursions
  • Personal equipment (see our recommended kit list)
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Gratuities/tips
  • International and domestic/in-country flights
  • Any visa, passport and vaccination expenses

Questions about this Trip?