So have you been to the desert in Chile?


Tatio Geyser 

Calama is the gateway to the wonders of Chile’s high central desert and with less than 5mm of rainfall a year; it’s known to be one of the driest deserts in the world.   This area is very rich in natural resources recognizing Chile as the world’s largest producer of copper and sodium nitrate. 

Our private transfer would take about 50 minutes viewing unforgettable landscape to our final destination San Pedro.  Being over 2400 M above sea level you’ll want to take it easy as you may experience mild altitude sickness.  The spectacular Licancabur volcano presents a magnificent setting against the eternal blue sky for San Petro.  The beautiful Kunza Hotel & Spa would be my home for the next three nights.  This property offers 60 spacious rooms with various configurations, full service spa, on site excursion tour guides and complete meeting facilities.  The temperature in March during the day would be 26- 28C but the evening would quickly cool off and you’d welcome a warm fire.  The clear dark night’s promises to deliver a privileged star gazing experience and an opportunity to view constellations only viewed in the Southern Hemisphere. 

My first tour was Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moons) located about 19 km from San Pedro, in the Salt Mountains.  The impressive panoramic views with variations of coloured rocks and sand will no doubt resemble the surface of the moon.  Your tour will end with your return to the hotel about 8:00 pm but it’s an early night because the next morning will begin at 4:30 am

I would recommend for you to sit back and relax for the next 90 minutes while the bus begins climbing to an altitude of 4300m to the El Tatio Geysers best seen at dawn.  The roads twist and wind and at times you will wonder if the vehicle is actually driving on the side of the road.  What a beautiful site revealed when you arrive to see the valley of smoldering geysers.  This geothermal attraction also offers visitors a thermal pool and believe me people are not shy to remove their layers of clothes and jump in.  Once the sun rises, the valley comes alive and the scenery will delight any photographer.  If you are lucky when heading back, you may spot a herd of guanacos while admiring the magnificent views of the Andes Mountains.  The extraordinary natural scenery will provide an enjoyable return ride.

My last tour was to visit the Atacama Salt Flats, the largest in Chile.  Andean flamingos as well as other bird species can be found in this National reserve.   As far as the eye can see, you view white sharp coral like formations of crusty dried salt.  Although you feel this land is desolate and unproductive; think the opposite!  The natural resources in this area are very valuable.

How quickly my three days passed! My experience to the Atacama Desert was unlike any I have ever had and I will treasure the memories of each adventure.

This article was written by Esther Roemmele.

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By Contact a Travel Professional on 08/09/2012 in Atacama Region

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