Our top sights, highlights and exclusive tips
Set high on a plateau nearing the eastern border is the village of San Pedro de Atacama. It’s hard not to be enchanted by this commune full of dirt tracks and quaint clay abodes, surrounded by red rock mountains and salt caves. Take a wander down the small streets of this town and into the landscape that surrounds it—salt pans, dunes, hot springs, and snowcapped mountains make you feel the wild beyond.
Valle de la Luna
Salar de Atacama
El Tatio Geysers
Arriving to Valle de la Luna, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for landing on the moon. A hike provides a quiet that allows you to fully take in the world-class views of the Andes. Night or day, a lunar landscape offers crimson sunsets. Hike your way through this natural wonder and see why this Valley is one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world.
The salt flats of Atacama are considered the driest places on earth, with 1-3 millimeters of precipitation a year. One of the few inhabitants in this parched region is the Andean flamingo. Large volcanoes dominate the landscape, including one of Chile’s most active, Lascar. At night, witness the spiraling starry dynamo that is the Milky Way in this arid land.
The Miscanti and Miñique lagoons are located 13,121 feet above sea level, with beryl-blue waters on the surface of the land that draw a variety of wildlife. Rich in biodiversity, these Lagoons are home to the Andean and James Flamingo—make sure to snap a photo on the lakes, and check out the unique beauty of the salt crystals at the floaty Cejar Lagoon.
A steaming geyser sunrise is an unforgettable awakening. Next to the border of Bolivia, the world’s third-largest geyser El Tatio or “oven” will astound you with more than 80 active hot springs. Take a steady walk through this bubbling land and dip your toes into these warm waters.
A scattering of clay brick houses with windswept thatched roofs make for a charming Chilean village escape in Machuca. Walk by the whitewashed churches and bell towers and see the colonial architecture at work, a perfect place to Chile’s rural life.
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