You can’t live in Chile for two years without having visited the driest desert in the world! Well that was my motivation behind my recent trip to San Pedro de Atacama. It had always been one of the top destinations that I wanted to see here in the Chile. If it were a toss up between the North and the South I would pick the north, people think i’m crazy but the landscapes are unlike anything you can find in NZ and i’m a sucker for experiencing something completely new.
Many people choose to drive to San Pedro from Santiago – its roughly 3200kms there and back at a total of 34 hours (17 hours each way) . I am not one of those people, firstly its just far too long for me – not a big fan of long road trips and when crunching the numbers it just didnt add up. For the gas alone it would cost around 200.000 peso then the piajes (road tolls) would roughly be 100.000 so thats around $500-$600 just to get there no thanks. Luckily Sky airlines have decided that they are going to try beat the price of a bus ticket to most destinations around Chile making it so much more affordable to see more of this beautiful country. We went during the peak time in February and paid a total of 102.000 peso for both of us which allows you to have checked in luggage but no snacks – there are options to buy food on the plane buts its only a 1.5 hour flight so no biggie.
The closest airport to San Pedro is Calama which is around an hour and ten minute drive so we arranged a transfer to take us there and back at a cost of 20.000 peso each total. You can catch a bus that may save you a few peso but you have to take a taxi from the airport into the city, take a bus from there to san pedro then possibly another taxi from the bus stop to your accommodation and we just didn’t want the hassle. The transfer company knew Altos de Quitor well and dropped us off right outside. If you haven’t booked a transfer ahead of time i’d say Fear not! as when you arrive there are around 8-10 transfer company booths right in front of you and many people just booked on the spot. I don’t remember the name of the company we chose buy it was booth number 8.
Without a doubt I always use booking.com when i’m looking for a place to stay. We decided to camp at Altos de Quitor – They provide you with everything you need for camping including the tent, mattress, pillows, blankets and the facilities were really awesome. The tents were big enough to stand up in and they provided a solar light that you can attach to the roof. There is a pool and also a common room with a TV, Kitchen, free bicycles and free water. I mean look at that back drop! Its around 2.2 kms out of the center of Atacama which was perfect! it took us around 10 mins to bike or 30mins to walk. I loved walking back at night -there are no street lights so you can see the sky so clearly, no wonder this is one of the best places in the world to see the stars. I believe San Pedro de Atacama is home to the highest observatory in the world so if you are a space lover this should definitely be on your list of dream destinations.
My favourite part about walking back from the city center was seeing people riding horses. Here they are taking a little break to drink from the river.
These were two separate groups on different days.
It would be impossible to share my experience in just one post so i’ll do a little series 😉 I truly LOVED this place – there is so much to see and do… I’m hoping to re-live it through these posts.
Chao for now x