Attractions around San Pedro de Atacama
Valley of the Moon
The Valley of the Moon is an area of fascinating rock and sand formations. It has been declared a Nature Sanctuary and forms part of the Los Flamencos National Reserve. It lies in the Cordillera de Sal west of San Pedro de Atacama, on the old road to Calama, south of the new highway.
Atacama Salt Flat
The biggest salt flat in Chile, with a surface area of more than 3,000 km2. It lies in Los Flamencos National Reserve, 56 km from San Pedro de Atacama.
The Tatio Geysers
95 km from the town of San Pedro de Atacama, this is the highest geyser field in the world, 4,321 meters above sea level. Its name means “the old man who weeps”.
It is surrounded by peaks of 6,000 meters and more. This is a unique spectacle of the Chilean desert, and is a must for any tourist.
Los Flamencos National Reserve
The Reserve was created under state protection in 1990. The total area is 73,986 hectares, divided into various sectors with markedly different characteristics, among them: Tara Salt Flats and Aguas Calientes Sector, Pujsa Salt Flat Sector, Miscanti-Miñiques Lagoons Sector, Soncor Sector, Aguas de Quelana Sector and Tambillo Sector.
Puritama Hot Springs
Located 30 km north of San Pedro de Atacama. This is a fantastic place, very cold and with a total absence of fire-wood.
There are changing rooms, saunas and baths connected to the pools by wooden walkways.
This pukará (fort) dates from the twelfth century, and consists of a 2.5 hectare site defended by a cliff above the San Pedro river, a ravine and a wall at the point of easiest access to the valley. Its walls are of of stones cemented with a clay mortar. At the centre of the site there is an interesting semi-circular building which appears to have been a tower. It was declared a National Monument in 1982.
A town located at a height of 2,475 meters above sea level, with 546 inhabitants. It is an oasis, where the purity of the water is such as to allow all kinds of fruits to be produced.
Dating from between 800 B.C. and 500 A.D., these are considered to be the earliest remains of habitation and the best place to experience traces of pre-Hispanic culture. The site is buried in the sand, and for this reason only a part has been excavated. It is situated in the area of the Atacama salt flat.
Socaire is 90 km from San Pedro de Atacama, at an altitude of 3,218 meters. It is pre-Colombian in origin, and preserves vestiges of the Atacameño culture. The houses and the church are built of stone, and the stones of the church tower are dressed. The church, built in the Colonial period out of locally gathered materials, is the greatest attraction.
A small oasis with a tiny population, located 86 km from San Pedro de Atacama. The inhabitants support themselves by grazing their flocks and growing maize. It has a church with adobe walls and a roof made of cactus.
Quebrada de Jerez
This ravine provides the water supply for the oasis of Toconao. Here there are natural swimming pools which form a popular attraction. It has a varied fauna, and there are orchards where a variety of fruits are grown.
Situated at 4,350 meters above sea level in a completely desolate area, this small lagoon is 100 km from San Pedro de Atacama. The water is emerald green in colour, with a froth on the surface produced by mineral salts.
This lagoon is rarely visited, which makes it one of the highlights of the region. Located next to two volcanoes, the beauty of the juxtaposition of blue sky and water will surely leave you breathless.
This vast lagoon is surrounded by white layers of salt, while small mineral crystals float on the surface. From here the Andes Mountains, with snow-capped peaks, can be seen in all their splendour.
Alberto Terrazas Oasis
This 200 metre deep oasis was created by an excavation carried out by CORFO in 1965. A jet of warm water rises at a temperature of 23° to feed the pool. The architecture used for the construction of the buildings of the oasis incorporates elements from past civilisations.