The Atacama Desert is a real highlight of our tours to Chile
FROM: USD $3,695 pp

Get off the beaten track in Chile’s northern reaches with this unique adventure through the Atacama Desert. Kicking off in Santiago discover fascinating museums, lunar-like landscapes of geysers and rock formations, pre-Hispanic ruins and gigantic geoglyphs, mammoth copper mines and abandoned ghost towns with plenty of natural beauty to boot.

Prices & Dates

Trip Highlights

Santiago – half day city tour of colonial architecture and traditional neighbourhoods
Salar de Atacama – Chile’s largest salt lake
Valle de la Luna – striking lunar-like landscape with a sunset visit to enjoy the changing colours
Cerro Pintados – ancient site consisting of more than 400 giant geoglyphs
Arica – the brilliantly preserved Chinchorro mummies
San Pedro de Atacama – picturesque oasis village with an expansive archaeological museum
Geysers del Tatio – sunrise visit to soak in the thermal springs
Chuquicamata – the largest open-pit copper mines in the world
Humberstone and Santa Laura – abandoned ghost towns with crumbling houses and rusty processing plants
Lauca National Park – the stunning Chungara Lake backed by the snow-capped Parinacota volcano


9 nights STANDARD accommodation. Upgrading to SUPERIOR or DELUXE accommodation options are also available upon request. Accommodation rating – See Trip Notes for details
Airport arrival and departure transfer on day 1 and day 10
Entrance fees to all sites included in the itinerary
All relevant transfers and transportation on a private basis unless otherwise stated
9 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 2 dinners
Services of local English-speaking specialist guides
Excursions to Santiago, San Pedro, Taito Geysers and Chuquicamata mines on a shared basis (private touring available for a supplement)
Private touring of Arica, Lauca National Park and nitrate ghost towns

Not Included

International flights, domestic flights and visas
Tipping – an entirely personal gesture
Laundry, drinks and items of a personal nature


Day 1


Bienviendos a Chile! Upon arrival into the airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Santiago. The rest of the day is free for you to get out and explore.
Overnight: Santiago

Day 2

Santiago City Tour

Encircled by snow-capped Andean peaks, the city of Santiago enjoys a particularly spectacular setting. This morning join a scheduled tour of the city to discover Santiago’s appealing blend of the old and new. Walking to the Plaza de Armas gaze at the handsome colonial architecture including the grandiose Catedral Metropolitana, the Post Office and the Santiago City Hall. Continue to the Government Palace and the older neighbourhood of Plaza Concha y Toro marked by cobblestone streets and elegant 20th century mansions. Heading east through neighbourhoods with a thoroughly modern appearance stop at a local handicrafts store where you can try a Pisco Sour.
Overnight: Santiago  |  Breakfast

Day 3

San Pedro de Atacama

Santiago – Calama – San Pedro de Atacama. This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Calama. On arrival you will be transferred to the little oasis village of San Pedro de Atacama. After hotel check in enjoy a scheduled afternoon city tour with a visit to the outstanding Museo Arqueológico Gustavo Le Paige. Housing more than 380,000 artefacts including Neolithic tools, ceramics and gold and silver ritual masks, the museum is famed for its prehistoric mummies, notably the withered ‘Miss Chile’.
Overnight: San Pedro de Atacama  |  Breakfast

Day 4

Atacama Desert

After breakfast visit the 12th century pre-Inca fortress of Pukara de Quitor. Strategically located on a hill, the defensive walls encircle a group of stone buildings that have been partially restored. Continue to the ancient settlement of Tulor where circular dwellings are interconnected by common passages and patios. Dating to 800 BC the site is the earliest known settlement in the area and is now partially covered by the constantly moving desert sands. Later in the afternoon see the impressive Licancabur volcano on your way to the village Toconao where the volcanic Liparita stone is quarried nearby. Heading in to the centre of the Salar de Atacama, the largest salt lake in Chile, arrive at the Chaxa Lagoon where you’ll find pink flamingos congregating.
Overnight: San Pedro de Atacama  |  Breakfast

Day 5

Tatio Geysers and the Valley of the Moon

It’s an early morning departure today as you travel to the Geysers del Tatio for a picnic-style breakfast and a stroll around the geothermal fields to see the geysers and pools of boiling water and mud. Sunrise is the ideal time to visit when the colours give the landscape a surreal appearance and thermal activity is at its peak. Enjoy a rejuvenating soak in the hot springs before heading back to San Pedro de Atacama. En route stop at the small village of Machuca where home-made empanadas, sopaipillas, coffee and coca tea can all be sampled. Later in the afternoon head to the dramatic wind-eroded landscape of Valle de la Luna. The angular geology is often compared to the surface of the moon and you’ll get the opportunity to visit salt caverns and climb the sand dunes to marvel at the kaleidoscope of colours that appear over the Andes at sunset.
Overnight: San Pedro de Atacama  |  Breakfast

Day 6

Chuquicamata copper mine

San Pedro de Atacama – Chuquicamata – Iquique. Carved out of the ground like an enormous, sunken amphitheatre, the Chuquicamata mines are one of the world’s largest open-pit copper mines, dwarfing the huge ore trucks to resemble crawling ants on the crater floor. Join a scheduled tour to learn about the copper mining process and to see the incredible feat of human engineering. Later in the afternoon continue north to Iquique passing the impressive Pintados geoglyphs along the way. Consisting of more than 400 figures etched into the hillside, the site features images of animals, birds, humans and geometric patterns. Continue to Iquique for overnight.
Overnight: Iquique  |  Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7

Nitrate ghost towns

Iquique – Humberstone – Arica. Once the scene of a thriving industry built on vast nitrate deposits, the ghost towns of Santa Laura and Humberstone now stand empty and lifeless. Abandoned in 1960, Humberstone now lies in total disrepair with workers’ houses, a theatre, a church and a hotel gradually disintegrating under the desert sun. At Santa Laura you’ll find the old processing plant towering like a rusty dinosaur over the few remaining houses. Continuing your journey north through the desert you’ll pass the Pampa de Tamarugal, an artificial forest in the middle of the desert, and the 86m tall Atacama Giant geoglyph. En route to Arica along the Tiliviche ravine and the Chiva escarpment you’ll also see the well-preserved panel of geoglyps illustrating a herd of llamas.
Overnight: Arica  |  Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8


Arica – Putre. Sitting at the foot of the Morro cliff, the city of Arica has a colourful history, best seen in its architecture and national monuments including the St Mark’s Cathedral and the ex-customs building. Touring continues with the pre-Hispanic settlements of Cerro Sombrero and Cerro Sagrado where ancestral beliefs are illustrated through panels of geoglyphs. Visit the Archaeological Museum at the University of Tarapacá where the complete evolution of the area is charted, from its most ancient inhabitants up until the arrival of the Spanish. It’s also home to the Chinchorro mummies, some of the best preserved and most ancient mummies ever discovered. At the Artisans Village you’ll have the opportunity to pick up some souvenirs and appreciate the local art and handicrafts.

Ascending towards the altiplano after lunch, pass diverse landscapes, more geoglyphs and the village of Poconchile and its 17th century church. The Cardones Canyon is a highlight with its 4m tall cacti. Visit the native Indian ancient fortress of Pukara de Copaquilla and the pre-Hispanic farm terraces of Socoroma before arriving in Putre.
Overnight: Putre  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9


This morning visit Lauca National Park and the Chungara Lake. During the ascent you’ll come across Andean bogs and strange flora such as the llareta plant, which only grows 1mm every year. Surrounded by the snow-capped Volcan Parinacota, the Chungara Lake is one of the highest lakes in Chile and when the wind is still, the reflection of the volcano is a staggeringly beautiful sight. Later visit the village of Parinacota where you’ll have the chance to meet some of the native Aymara inhabitants and learn about their traditional customs and beliefs.
Overnight: Putre  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10


Putre – Arica. Today marks the end of your unique Chilean adventure. After breakfast and hotel check out you will be transferred to Arica airport. There are a number of flights from Arica to Santiago, from where you can take your onward flight home.

Prices & Dates

Prices shown are per person when there are 2 persons sharing a room, based on a travelling party of at least 2 adults. The 'Single Room' price is applicable when a single room is required. If travelling solo, an additional ‘1-person’ supplement will apply.

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Twin / Share
Single Room
USD $3835
USD $4665
USD $3695
USD $4485
USD $3835
USD $4665

In Brief

Trip Type
Any day of the year
Hotel Rating
Our rating: Standard
Tour Guide
Yes - for all included sightseeing
Breakfast: 9, Lunch: 4, Dinner: 2
Santiago, San Pedro de Atacama, Iquique, Arica, Putre
Desert, moonlike landscape of red, rugged rocks and mountains in the background
Desert, moonlike landscape of red, rugged rocks and mountains in the background
Sand dunes behind the city of Iquique and the sea in front of it
Arica Highlight
Picturesque valley and mountain in Putre
OTG001155Atacama & the North - 10 DaysSouth AmericaTailor-madeSouth Americafalse0Chile