Hiking Tour Atacama Desert Chile

Duration

7 days

Difficulty

Intermediate

Location

Northern Chile

Date

June to October

USD $4.235

Per person in DBL

7-Day Hiking Tour - Atacama Desert

Luxury adventure in Northern Chile and the driest desert in the World. Enjoy and explore hiking ancient trails between valleys. Find yourself among astonishing landscapes surrounded by volcanoes, salt flats, canyons and gorges. In addition, you’ll learn about the Atacama Desert, its history, geology, culture, indigenous people, archaeology, and native flora and fauna.

Atacama Hiking Tour Highlights

  • Explore the hidden corners of the driest desert in the world
  • Ckari Gorge trail hike in Moon Valley
  • Star-gazing experience 
  • Atacama Salt Flat and endemic fauna and flora
  • Cacti Valley, Guatín ancient settlement and Puritama hot springs
  • Third largest Geothermal field in the world: Tatio Geysers and Copa Coya Hill
  • Savor Chilean cuisine and taste the best local wines
  • Toco Hill ancient Volcano
  • Pre-Columbian Machuca Village

Itinerary

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

Before we kick off our hiking 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 hiking tour, our local team will meet you at La Casa de Don Tomas Hotel in San Pedro de Atacama at 9am. After an introductory briefing, we’ll head towards the Salt Mountain Range where the Mars Valley is located. This mountain range forms a natural barrier between the Pacific Ocean and the Atacama Salt Flat. 

After ascending a small dune, we will hike north along one of the cornices bordering the Mars Valley. The stunning panoramic view allows us to appreciate how erosion has molded the Salt Mountain Range, revealing the geological processes that shaped it. 

The most fun part of the excursion is a steep but enjoyable descent down a dune, from where we cross the valley on our way back to the van. 

Altitude: 2,600 meters above sea level
Distance: 3,7 kilometers
Meals: Welcome dinner
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 Excursion. In the afternoon, we will drive towards 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 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: 2 km
Difficulty: Easy
Altitude: 2,400 meters above sea level
Accommodation: Noi Casa Atacama
Meals: Breakfast 

In the village of Machuca, located 4,000 meters above sea level, the hike begins with a descent through a desert moor towards the gorge, passing through lands used by shepherd caravans. We will be stopping for lunch mid-way through the hike at an abandoned homestead called Peñaliri. 

After lunch, we continue hiking downriver until reaching the village of Río Grande, where the van will be waiting to take us back to our hotel.

Difficulty: Moderate
Altitude: 4,000 – 3,200 meters above sea level
Distance: 16 kilometers
Accommodation: Noi Casa Atacama
Meals: Breakfast and Picnic Lunch

Morning hike. During the morning we will drive towards Talabre, a little charming village located on the base of the Lascar Volcano. Here we will hike through the Kezala Ravine. 

The large quantity of petroglyphs located in Quebrada de Kezala attracts attention, with different naturalistic representations ranging from camelids, hunting animals, birds, felines and foxes, to anthropomorphic motifs. Later, we’ll return to San Pedro for a lunch break.

Difficulty: Easy
Altitude: 3.600 meters above sea level
Distance: 6 kilometers

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
Elevation: 2.400 meters above sea level
Intensity level: Low/Easy
Accommodation: Noi Casa Atacama
Meals: Breakfast

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
Elevation: 4.400 meters above sea level
Intensity level: Intermediate & Advanced
Accommodation: Noi Casa Atacama
Meals: Breakfast and picnic lunch

The Toco Hill is an ancient dormant volcano like several others in the area. It is one of the most characteristic ascents in the area, because it is the nearest to San Pedro de Atacama, and easy to access.

We will drive from our hotel towards an old sulfur mine. We will begin our ascent that will take us to the summit at 5,600 meters over the sea level. Upon arrival at the summit, we will enjoy the spectacular views to the Andes Mountain Range. 

At night, after our farewell dinner in town, we’ll enjoy an amazing astronomy experience. 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. 

Difficulty: Hard
Altitude: 5.200 -5.600 meters above sea level
Distance: 5 km  
Accommodation: Noi Casa Atacama
Meals: Breakfast and Farewell dinner

Sadly, it is time to say good bye. After breakfast a private transfer will take you to Calama airport (CJC). 

End of our services.

Meals: Breakfast
Time driving in the van: 1 hour

hiking atacama chile

Difficulty

Intermediate: A reasonable level of fitness is required, as these hiking trips can require sustained endurance levels, hills and longer days.

These tours are intended for active people who are comfortable participating in up to 6 hours of hiking per day. These tours may include hiking on difficult terrain, sometimes steep and/or uneven trails, with obstacles such as wet logs, branches and muddy areas.

Itinerary Modifications

Slight itinerary modifications might occur due to weather and or road conditions, or force majeure.

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.

TOUR GALLERY

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