Exploring The Driest Non-Polar Desert – Atacama Desert

Lonely Planet Chose Chile As Number One Destination In 2018Atacama Desert, Chile

Somehow it didn’t surprise me when I read that Lonely Planet predestined Chile as the number 1 destination for 2018. Due to its length, Chile’s nature is more than diverse. And I was lucky to visit one of the highlights and also one of my personal highlights during my South America trip – The Atacama Desert.

The Atacama Desert

Did you know that there is a place in Antarctica called Dry Valleys, where was no rain for nearly 2 millions of years? This is actually the driest place on Earth. It is a 4800 square kilometer region of almost no water or ice.

But outside of the polar regions, the driest desert is definitely Atacama Desert. I felt it straight at the moment when I stepped out of the airplane, my skin was craving for moisture cream.

Believe me there are only few places in the world, where I seriously don’t feel the time of being in the 21st century. And besides Antarctica, Atacama Desert is one of them.

Clear skies and bright sunlight, after Antarctica and Ushuaia I was at the peak of my excitement. As you know how much I love Bali , I do prefer warm and tropical climates rather than the cold ones.

Atacama Desert
Sunset in Atacama Desert

How To Get There ?

So people usually fly to Calama. We booked a flight from Santiago to Calama and a return ticket for 75 US-Dollars. The flight is quite short, approximately 2 hours. The other option would be a long horrendous bus ride which would eventually cost more.

Atacama Desert
Tres Marias in Atacama Desert

Once you get to the airport, there are shuttles to San Pedro de Atacama. But they are expensive for a low-budget traveler.
So we asked some people if they would like to share a taxi with us to Calama city. And in Calama we took a bus (1 1/2 hours) to San Pedro de Atacama.
With this option, you will save a huge amount of money.

How To Get Around And Where To Stay In San Pedro de Atacama ?

We stayed in Pangea Norte Hostel where our friend Belen is working.
If you search for a convenient, great backpacker hostel with international people and a bohemian vibe; This is the hostel you should stay in.
I stayed there for a week and Belen was helping us with every tour.

Atacama Desert

San Pedro de Atacama might be a dreadful place for everyone who has a tight budget. There are no public transport, you can only choose between tour and bikes. Or walking – but I can not recommend it, the attractions are far way and miles to walk in the sunny and hot sun isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

We booked every tour at the hostel.
Thanks Belen, we love you and thank you for everything you did for us.
The explorations (half day and full day) are starting in the morning to various points of interest. You should definitely book tours depending on your preference and your own physical conditions.

The Tours In Atacama Desert

Atacama Desert, Coyote Rock
Coyote Rock

Like I said I booked all my tours with Pangea Norte Hostel, but there are plenty of travel agencies around the town. I will name you all the tours I did and if they are worth the money you are paying for.

El Tatio Geysier

El Tatio Geysers

El Tatio is the third-largest geyser field in the world (after Yellowstone National Park and Valley of Geysers in Russia) and the largest one in the southern hemisphere.

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The tour  starts in the morning at 5 am. And due to high altitude and the coldness of the morning, many people got sick on our tour.
Now you have to add the strong smell of sulfur and we have the perfect recipe for nausea. I  was lucky enough not to suffer from high altitude.

Recommendation: I wouldn’t book the tour again, but you have to do it once.

Moon Valley & Death Valley Tour

Atacama Desert Chile
When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.
Star wars landscape
Doesn’t it remind you of the Star Wars landscape?

Valle de la Luna and Valle de la muerte will definitely set you dreaming.
It is located in the Salt mountain range and is famous for its mystique formation of stone and sand. I couldn’t stop to believe that I am still on Mother Earth instead of having gone to the moon.

The sunset at the Death Valley is just indescribably beautiful.

Atacama Desert
Amphitheatre in Atacama Desert

Recommendation: More than worth the money you spend for this tour.

Flamingos National Reserve & The Lagoons of Menique and Miscanti

Here you definitely need to book a tour due to the distance of the lagoons. After Bolivia and the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve it was difficult to be amazed by those lagoons. Therefore, if you also plan to travel to Bolivia you can omit this tour. It was also our most expensive tour.

Laguna
Laguna ?

Recommendation: Everyone who doesn’t come from Salar de Uyuni or hasn’t been to the Eduardo Avaroa National Park in Bolivia should go on this tour.

Pink Flamingos
Flamingos

We joined in San Pedro de Atacama a Free Walking Tour and I recommend it. We didn’t do a stargazing tour, but I heard from many other travelers that the tour is highly recommendable. You can also rent a bike and biking around the city and the surroundings, although we prefered to do it at night.

Atacama Desert

Next Stop Is Salar De Uyuni

Both of us have never been to a place like Atacama Desert. A place quite unlike anywhere else. I think this desert is one of the must-visit places on beautiful Mother Earth before you are going to die.
The pictures are speaking for themselves?

Guanaco
Guanaco

And our trip got even better. We decided to combine Atacama Desert with Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia and had a frigging great time, as you will read in my next article.

 

 

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