Atacama desert in Chile
Author: Pieter De Pauw
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I went for a business trip to Chile, and as I had to stay over for a weekend, I decided to visit one of the places which was on my shortlist: the Atacama desert in Chile, the driest non-polar desert in the world approx. 128 000 square kilometers large. A 2 hours flight from Santiago, followed by a 1 hour drive took me to the little town San Pedro the Atacama, popular to tourists and the perfect starting point to explore the region.
Most of the popular vistas are in the Andes mountains (in fact not really desert anymore), and require driving up to approx 5000m -I can't remember ever having been that high, leaving little time for acclimatization and thus seriously impact your physical abilities.
I made a tailor-made tour (some trips as part of a group, others with private driver) to get most out of the three days.
Day 1: visit of the Altiplanic Lagoons and the Red Stones
Day 2: visit of the Tatio Geyser, the Rainbow Valley and the Petroglyphs in Hierbas Buenas
Day 3: visit of the Salar de Atacama