San Pedro de Atacama is a town full of charm, interesting landscapes and a lot of dust. Despite the dust, there is just a special something about this town that makes it so enjoyable.
I had not prepared myself for what I would see on arrival into the town. The streets are narrow and full of locals and tourists alike. It is interesting to see the locals going about their daily business on bicycles and the herds of tourists flocking to the town to see what all the hype is about.
Where is San Pedro de Atacama?
To reach San Pedro de Atacama you will need to take a flight to the nearest airport – Calama. It is approx. a 2 hour flight from Santiago and serviced by Lan Airlines and Sky Airlines.
Once in Calama, it is just over a one hour drive from the airport until you reach the town of San Pedro de Atacama in the heart of the Atacama desert.
Transfers are available and are priced between $12.000 pesos (one way) or $20.000 pesos (return).
San Pedro Atacama Things To Do
This place is so interesting and so many things to see that you could easily spend a week and not get bored here. Below are the most popular tours in the area and ones that I recommend you do not miss.
- Moon Valley
- Altiplancos and Salt Flats
- Geyers and Cactus Canyon
I would also highly recommend hiring a bike and taking a ride around the area. Bikes are readily available for hire for many of the agencies within the town. The roads in the area are narrow but quite safe and makes for a very interesting ride.
If you are feeling adventurous then you should most definitely have a go at sand boarding. You can either hire your own board and make your own way to the sand dunes or take one of the many tours. It certainly makes for a fun afternoon!
Where to Eat in San Pedro
- La Pica Del Indio – this was my favourite place to eat in San Pedro. The food was great, the service excellent and the price even better. For $4.000 pesos you could eat a 3 course meal. This restaurant quickly became my favourite and I ate here on more than one occasion over my 4 day stay – it was just that good!
- Baltinache – this restaurant is a little off the beaten path and people usually only find this by someone’s recommendation. The food is fantastic and specialises in locally sourced produce. A little more expensive, but certainly not expensive by Western standards, a 3 course meal here will set you back approx.. $10.000 pesos.
- Roots – this small café serves great coffee and snacks. A great place to visit if you are just after something small – they serve excellent sandwiches.
Where to Stay
San Pedro de Atacama is not a town short on accommodation. There are many different types of accommodation in San Pedro de Atacama and something for every budget.
If you are after high end luxurious accommodation and have money to burn you should look to either stay at Awasi Atacama or Tierra Atacama. These resorts are all inclusive and offer everything you can possibly need during your time in San Pedro.
Hotel Noi Casa Atacama is an excellent mid range accommodation option. The hotel is located quite close to town and it offers luxurious accommodation at a more reasonable budget.
Campo Base Hostel is an excellent choice if you are on a budget. The hostel offers both private and dorm rooms and all are very comfortable. The hostel is located very close to the main parts of town and I would certainly recommend if you are looking for comfortable but budget friendly accommodation.
The below companies are just two of many many tour agencies in the area. These are the two companies that I used to take many tours during my stay and both were excellent.
It is worth noting the Cosmo Andino prices were quite a bit higher than Viva Atacama however with this came a more personalised touring experience with smaller groups and a very knowledgable guide.
I would recommend if you are looking to take the lagoon tour that you consider taking it with Cosmo Andino. This tour company offered a longer tour (by about 4 hours) and involved an extra stop at Salar de Talar. This was a nice experience and visited by very few other tourists. Certainly worth the extra dollars to go with this agency.