Bike Hike Tour Atacama Desert

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Duration

7 days

Difficulty

Intermediate

Location

Northern Chile

USD $4.860

Per person in DBL

7-Day Bike and Hike Tour - Atacama Desert

Hike and bike among astonishing landscapes surrounded by volcanoes and secret paths between valleys, salt flats & gorges. You will learn more about the history of the Atacama Desert, culture, archaeology, native flora and fauna.

Atacama Bike Hike Tour Highlights

  • Explore the hidden corners of the driest desert in the world
  • Luxury accommodation
  • Ckari Gorge trail hike in Moon Valley
  • Star-gazing experience 
  • Cejar Lagoon and Ojos del Salar
  • Atacama Salt Flat and endemic fauna and flora
  • Savor Chilean cuisine and taste the best local wines 
  • Cacti Valley, Guatín ancient settlement and Puritama hot springs
  • Third largest Geothermal field in the world: Tatio Geysers
  • Cultural experience and special encounter with the Likan Antai indigenous community
  • High plateau Andean Villages: Caspana, Chiu Chiu, Pre-Columbian fortresses and settlements

Itinerary

For flight quotes (international and domestic), please contact our partner Exito Travel.  

Before we kick off our bike and hike tour in the Atacama Desert, you should take a day or two to adjust to local time and recover from your travels, and allow for any flight or luggage delays. You should fly into Calama airport (CJC).

In Chile, domestic flights are operated by 3 local airline companies: Latam, Sky Airline and JetSmart.

We recommend staying at Hotel La Casa de Don Tomás in San Pedro de Atacama, which is well-located with lots of restaurants and other facilities just a short walk away.

Suggested Hotels

Official Airport Transfer

The official shuttle company at Calama’s Airport is called TransVip.

They are the only authorized shuttle company at the airport, and their staff wears a green and orange uniform.
By contract with the airport, they must have available transport based in the domestic flights arriving every day.

They have a counter at the airport, on the ground floor next to the car rental companies.

They offer regular shuttles to San Pedro de Atacama at $12.000 pesos (USD $17 per person), and they need a minimum of 4 people.

If they don’t have the 4 minimum passengers, or if you want to have a private shuttle, with the same company you can do it at $75.000 (USD $100 per vehicle).

You don’t need reservations and you can pay in Credit Card or Cash. The ATM is on ground floor.

All their shuttle services will drop you off at the hotel or address you are staying in San Pedro de Atacama. Driving time is approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Our meeting hotel address is CALLE TOCOPILLA, SIN NUMERO, SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA.

On the first day of our bike and hike tour, our local team will meet you at La Casa de Don Tomas Hotel in San Pedro de Atacama at 9am. They will brief you on the adventure ahead and answer any questions you may have.

We will start building bikes and fitting rental bikes, ready for our first ride on the Atacama Desert!

Morning Ride. This morning, we will have a great introductory experience to the Likan Antay culture and its way of living. We will leave the hotel by bike and ride through different ayllus. The Ayllu is an ancient type of organization and land management, created by the Altiplano people who inhabited these desert sites.

We will pass by Solcor, Sequitor & Tulor. We’ll make our first stop at the archeological site Tulor, one of the oldest sites in northern Chile. Then, we will meet Wildo and his family at the Coyo ayllu, and share with his family some daily activities and ancestral cosmovision. 

We will enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in Coyo tasting typical food prepared with local products. 

Distance by Bike: 30 kilometers / 18.6 miles

Elevation: 2.400 meters above sea level / 7.875 feet

Intensity level: Low/Easy

Afternoon Hike. During the afternoon, we’ll head toward the Moon Valley, located in the Salt Mountain Range, which forms a natural barrier between the Pacific Ocean and the Atacama Salt Flat. The hike starts at the Coyote rock, a strange rock formation and getting deep into the mountain range and it geologic forms. 

We’ll hike 2 hours by the Kari George, admiring beautiful views of Atacama. The Moon is well-known due to it statuesque and rocky formations. Salt emerges to the surface, covering the surface with a dry, whitish layer that gives the place a lunar aspect.

Distance Hiking: 8 kilometers / 5 miles

Elevation: 2.400 meters above sea level / 7.875 feet

Intensity level: Low/Easy

Evening activity. At night we will enjoy an amazing astronomy outing. We’ll spend 2 hours that starts with an astronomy lecture in a specially equipped room, followed by a naked eye star-gazing and finally, a celestial bodies telescopic observation.

Meals: Lunch and evening cocktail
Accommodation: Noi Casa Atacama

Morning Hike
After breakfast, departure from your hotel towards the North-East. The excursion starts out by ascending from the Guatín settlement surrounded by hundred-year-old cactus. 
 
The hike begins climbing along a 820-feet slope towards the Puritama hot springs. Once we reach the hot springs, we will relax in mineral hot water and enjoy snacks. 
 
Distance Hiking: 6,8 kilometers
Elevation: 3.600 meters above sea level
Intensity Level: Beginners-Intermediate
 
Afternoon Ride
In the afternoon, we will bike from San Pedro to Toconao. Upon arrival, we will visit the main Plaza, the Church and the historic Bell tower, all of them historic symbols of this town. Moreover, we will visit some vegetable gardens and sample some local wine. 
 
Afterwards, we will continue biking towards Los Flamencos National Reserve, where the Atacama Salt Flat is located and bird watching is amazing. The Atacama salt flat is the biggest salt field in Chile and its large quantities of salt make the surface white and rough. 
 
There, we will wait until sunset and then head back to hotel in San Pedro.
 
Distance by Bike: 63,7 kilometers
Elevation: 2.400 meters above sea level
Intensity level: Low/Easy
Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Noi Casa Atacama

Morning Ride
Today we’ll bike towards Ojos del Salar, the Tebinquinche & Cejar Lagoons, where you’ll get the change to swim, enjoying the gravitational effect caused by the amount of salt condensed, floating very easily. Your eyes will be amazed with the beautiful turquoise color of the lagoon. 
Distance by bike: 40 kilometers
Elevation: 2.400 meters above sea level 
Intensity level: Low/Easy
Afternoon Ride
After lunch, we start riding from hotel towards Catarpe Valley. We’ll pedal through an ancient tunnel before starting a descent that will take us to the Piedra de la Coca, a site with petroglyphs. 
We continue our excursion to the Paciencia Valley through stony grounds and on our way back we pass through the Mars Valley. 
Distance by Bike: 36 kilometers
Elevation: 2.400 meters above sea level 
Intensity level: Intermediate
Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Noi Casa Atacama

Today, we will experience a full day excursion combining biking & hiking.

We will start biking from Guatín towards Machuca Village, starting at 3.600 meters above sea level (11.810 feet). We will go biking uphill, passing by the intermediate gorges, rock formations until we get to the high flats where Machuca is located. 

There, we will enjoy the wetlands and we will be able to appreciate different bird species. 

Afterwards, we will hike along a creek to the Grande River. In this exploration, we can see fauna and typical Andean farming terraces. The path is an old caravan trail and goes alongside the river. We will stop for lunch at Peñaliri, an abandoned village and continue hiking until we reach Rio Grande a very charming and authentic village. 

Distance by Bike: 22 kilometers / 13,5 miles
Distance Hiking: 16 kilometers / 9,95 miles
Elevation: 3.600 – 4.000 meters above sea level / 11.810 – 13123 feet
Intensity level: Intermediate
Meals: Breakfast, box Lunch and Dinner
Accommodation: Noi Casa Atacama

Today we will enjoy a hike at the Tatio geothermal field. We will hike through abandoned shelters and native wildlife. This hike around the Copa Coya Hill to the Tatio Geysers provides unforgettable moments. The red-hued rock which the wider valley is known for turns to a dusty grey or pale orange throughout this excursion, which begins on the trails surrounding Copa Coya Hill. 

The route is known to attract its fair share of on looking wildlife as you hike, including native Vizcachas, Vicuñas and an abundance of llareta plants, the longest-living in the world. 

We will enjoy lunch at the geothermal field with the chance to take a bath at the thermal pools. Later, we’ll return to San Pedro de Atacama and enjoy dinner together with your local guides. 

Distance Hiking: 9 kilometers / 6 miles
Elevation: 4.400 meters above sea level / 14.435 feet
Intensity level: Intermediate & Advanced
Meals: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch and Dinner
Accommodation: Noi Casa Atacama 

Today we will leave the town of San Pedro de Atacama to discover beautiful and charming towns at the Alto Loa. We will drive towards the area of Tocorpuri, passing some wetlands and long plateaus. 

We will start biking at 4.000 meters (13.125 feet) on a paved road. The road has rolling hills and amazing views to volcanoes and ravines. We will bike for about 40 kilometers (24,5 miles) descending the famous Cuesta de la Chita until we reach the town of Caspana, which is developed in an environment of agricultural crops and small livestock.

After lunch, we will continue biking alongside the Alto Loa area to get to Ayquina village and the isolated Turi Pukara, a residential and ceremonial of the Atacama culture, dating from the year 1250. 

Finally, we will drive to Calama, where we will stay overnight and enjoy our farewell dinner together. 

Distance Biking: 89 kilometers / 55 miles
Elevation: 4.400 meters above sea level / 14.435 feet
Intensity level: Intermediate & Advanced
Meals: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch and Farewell Dinner
Accommodation: Noi Borde Loa Hotel  

After breakfast, we will drive from the hotel towards Chiu Chiu,  a village located in an oasis that in pre-Hispanic times had a large concentration of Likan Antay population and that was part of the Inca Trail. 

We will start biking through Lasana Valley, until we arrive at Lasana Pukara, a well-preserved 12th century fortress with more than 100 buildings built in stone. 

After visiting this archeological site, we will finally head towards Calama Airport (CJC), in order for you to catch your next flight.

End of our services.

Distance Biking: 20 kilometers / 12 miles
Elevation: 2.700 meters above sea level / 8.858 feet
Intensity level: Low/Easy
Meals: Breakfast 

bike hike atacama

Difficulty

Intermediate: You’re active on your days off, and recreational biking may even be your weekend sport of choice. You love to ride, and it shows in your endurance and strength.

Our intermediate bike tours offer a steady but active pace (between 3 to 5 hours), with opportunities to push yourself. Expect some challenging climbs, with great descents over rolling terrain.

Average distance per day: 20-30 miles / 30-50 km.

Bike Rental

Frameset

If you rent one of our great bikes, please feel free to bring your own helmet, pedals, seat and seat post (27,2 mm). We can provide them too.

SizesS, M, L, XL
FrameTrail 26, double-butted 6061 Alloy, SAVE, 1-1/8″
ForkSR Suntour XCM-RL-26, 100mm, remote lockout

Wheels

WheelsAlex DC 4.0, double wall, 32-hole
TiresKenda Small Block 8, 26×2.1″

Drivetrain

ShiftersShimano Altus
DerailleurFront:  Shimano Altus, 31.8 clamp
Rear:  Shimano Acera
CrankShimano M371, 44/32/22
CassetteShimano HG20, 11-34, 9-speed
PedalsCannondale Platform

Components

SaddleCannondale Stage 3
Seat PostC4, 27.2x350mm, 400mm (X)
HandlebarC4 by UNO, 6061 alloy, 20mm rise, 680mm
StemCannondale C4 by UNO, 31.8, 12 deg.
HeadsetTange Si
BrakesetCannondale Helix 6B hydraulic disc, 160/160mm

Helmets & Pedals

Most riders choose to bring their own helmets, but if you prefer, we have a small number of helmets available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.  Please let us know in advance if you’d like to use one.  

All our bikes are equipped with Cannondale platform pedals and toeclips.  We will be happy to substitute any pedals you choose to bring.  

Safety

Chile is by far one of the safest countries in South America in terms of public health and crime.

We are proud to affirm that our police is one of the least corrupt in the world; they are always friendly and helpful.  

Road Safety

Besides your own on-road safety gear (helmet, rear view mirrors, bright colored jerseys and gloves), we provide a support vehicle that drives at the rear of the group with a road-sign alerting other drivers the presence of bike riders on the road.

Drivers in Chile are used to bicycles on the road, so they shouldn’t bother you while riding. All our staff communicates by radio at all times.

Bicycle choice

If you bring your own bike, make sure you bring enough bike parts.

Pack your bike well in a bike box that we can easily dismantle for its transportation during the tour.

Weather notes

We suggest visiting the web for current conditions in Chile and doing your own research on this topic. www.meteochile.cl/ or www.accuweather.com

The Atacama Desert is commonly known as the driest place in the world. Although the almost total lack of precipitation is the most prominent characteristic of the Atacama Desert, exceptions may occur. The Invierno Boliviano or Altiplano Winter is a phenomenon which can produce a little rain and abundant electrical storms, and occurs in January and February. 

The average rainfall is about 15 mm. (0.59 in) per year. This desert is so arid that many mountains higher than 6,000 metres (20,000 ft) are completely free of glaciers. Indeed, only the highest peaks have some permanent snow coverage.

In San Pedro de Atacama, the local climate is extremely dry and mild, with daytime temperatures between 25ºC to 30ºC  (77ºF–86ºF) in the summer (December to February) and 18ºC to 25 °C (64 to 77 °F) in the winter (June to August). Night time temperatures routinely drop below 0 °C (32 °F) and can reach as low as −10 °C (14 °F) in the winter.

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