10 Things to do in San Pedro de Atacama That You Shouldn't Miss

August 13, 2021 Stefan Strunk

Looking for an unusual and beautiful landscape? Sandstone canyons, flamingo-dotted salt flats, steaming geysers, hot springs, volcanic peaks and alien-looking rock formations are on offer all around San Pedro de Atacama. Hiking, biking and horseback riding are the preferred means of exploration. Death Valley here is surprisingly great for picnics.
Restaurants in San Pedro de Atacama

1. Lagunas Miscanti y Miniques

Caracoles 174b, San Pedro de Atacama 1410000 Chile +56 9 5641 9319 http://www.facebook.com/viajero.andino.SP/
Excellent
81%
Good
15%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5.0 based on 5,676 reviews

Lagunas Miscanti y Miniques

Reviewed By 965ianf - Norfolk, United Kingdom

This trip to the lagoons at over 4000m altitude was to witness some truly unique and spectacular scenery. The blue lagoons with the backdrop of snow capped peaks and white salt terrain was breathtaking. This was a day trip from San Pedro and the excursion included an outdoor lunch in the sunshine. A great trip with a stop off on the way back at the point where we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn at Lat 23 degrees. A much over used word these days but the vista really was 'amazing'. A special place indeed.

2. Salar de Tara

San Pedro de Atacama Chile
Excellent
82%
Good
14%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5.0 based on 2,226 reviews

Salar de Tara

Reviewed By Birdsocks - Boston, United States

This was one of my favorite spots in the Atacama - partly because it is absolutely breathtaking, and partly because it was one of the less crowded spots I visited. It's location makes it impossible to access with a bus - so it is limited to a handful of sprinter vans and camp trucks like mine at any given time. This is accessed via the Monks (Monjes de Pacana) and there is no "road" leading to it. For those not part of a tour, who are looking for the Monks and Salar de Tara on their own - here's some important advise: There weren't any signs letting you know you were close to the Monks...or any signs for the site at all, on the road from San Pedro. The cartoony map from town had them in a slightly different spot on the curves of the road than where they were - we were worried we'd missed a turn off. But not to worry - they are there and you really cannot miss them - they're adjacent to the road and very recognizable. Side note: You will be sharing the curvy and mostly uphill road from SPdA to this location with LOTS of trucks transporting cars to Bolivia/Argentina (maybe from the coast?). They are super slow on the hills and you'll be often stuck behind them when the road is too curvy to pass. Once at the Monks - to get to Salar de Tara requires a 20-30min off road drive. There are lots of car tracks going every which way - some may lead to completely different places, so I would not suggest trying to find this on your own. Even with a GPS app, it is not a direct route, and tourists get lost in the area a lot trying to find the site. We followed one of the sprinter van tours from Monjes de Pacana, and then did the same thing to get back afterwards. The tour guides seem very kind and happy to lead the way so you don't get lost! At the Salar, there are lots of animals, a gorgeous landscape, a baño, and smaller crowds - definitely worth the drive! This is one of the higher altitudes in the area - the weather is super dodgy/undpredictable! We saw sun, rain, hail, and snow on our day trip to visit these. A guide advised that rain often starts in the area around 2 or 3pm, and suggested leaving by that time. He was spot on, as it started raining around 2pm as we headed out.

3. Valle De La Luna

San Pedro de Atacama Chile +56 9 9943 4171
Excellent
69%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 8,339 reviews

Valle De La Luna

Reviewed By ReadyForThisJelly - Washington DC, United States

Honestly, I was disappointed by the Atacama Desert. I found it was mostly a more expensive, less spectacular version of Bolivia's altiplano desert. But the Valle de la Luna/Valle de la Muerte was the big exception—there's nothing quite like this in Bolivia, and it's spectacular. It's getting harder to visit here without crowds, but it's still great. The valley was the highlight of our 5 days in San Pedro, and we visited three times—on a morning hike, by horseback ride, and sandboarding down the huge dunes. I highly recommend all three experiences.

4. Termas Banos de Puritama

Ruta B-245 km. 28, San Pedro de Atacama Chile +56 9 9124 4232 http://termasdepuritama.cl
Excellent
62%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
10%
Poor
2%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 2,163 reviews

Termas Banos de Puritama

Reviewed By 716sachink - Plainview, United States

Puritama Hot Springs is a series of eight large pools of geothermal spring water located at the bottom of a canyon in the Atacama Desert, within a close driving distance from San Pedro De Atacama. One feels relaxed and refreshed after one takes a dip in one of the natural pools. Certainly worth visiting for those who seek some relaxation in the midst of several hectic activities revolving around San Pedro De Atacama.

5. Reserva Nacional de Flamencos

San Pedro de Atacama Chile
Excellent
59%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
14%
Poor
2%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1,864 reviews

Reserva Nacional de Flamencos

Reviewed By JrnyJunkie - Cleveland, United States

We were able to view 2 different species of flamingo. Very vivid and colorful area to watch not just flamingos, but other birds as well as camelids.

6. Geyser del Tatio

174a Caracoles, San Pedro de Atacama 1410000 Chile +56 9 6673 5372
Excellent
72%
Good
20%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 7,659 reviews

Geyser del Tatio

Reviewed By pycohen - Berlin, Germany

This was worth the 80 km drive out of San Pedro! First experiencing a live geothermic site... listening to the boiling water all around you, breathing the sulfuric air (not too nice) and discovering the many colors of the geysers landscapes. The place also offered a natural pool, at 30+ degrees Celsius, which was unexpected and a great surprise! Great bath / thermes experience. Be prepared for the 4300 m altitude.

7. Laguna Chaxa

Reserna Nacional los Flamencos, San Pedro de Atacama Chile http://www.conaf.cl/parques/reserva-nacional-los-flamencos/
Excellent
56%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
12%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1,173 reviews

Laguna Chaxa

Reviewed By 716sachink - Plainview, United States

Laguna Chaxa is a salt flat located at a short driving distance from San Pedro De Atacama. It is in the midst of magnificent picturesque natural surroundings. Flamingos in their natural wild habitat are the highlight. One gets to see the Chilean Flamingo and the Andean Flamingo from very close. In addition there are several other birds and lizards. The heat can be very intense in the middle of this salt flat, so would recommend to be prepared for the same and even considering taking an umbrella to block the direct adverse effects of the strong sun. Certainly would very highly recommend this salt flat to any tourist in San Pedro De Atacama.

8. Piedras Rojas

San Pedro de Atacama 1410000 Chile
Excellent
83%
Good
12%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1,417 reviews

Piedras Rojas

Reviewed By 716sachink - Plainview, United States

Piedras Rojas literally translates to red rocks. It offers a look at a red colored landscape surrounding a salt lake. Unfortunately, direct visit of the same from close is not permitted to anyone. Most visitors come to admire the otherworldly terrain and photograph the surrounding mountains from a distant viewpoint which is certainly worth it for the spectacular views including the red rocks in the distance.

9. Lagunas Baltinache

Ruta 23 Los Pantanos, San Pedro de Atacama Chile
Excellent
80%
Good
14%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 379 reviews

Lagunas Baltinache

Reviewed By Carl787 - Buenos Aires, Argentina

Early in our trip to Atacama we had an afternoon free and having read some reviews decided to give Lagunas Baltinache a try. Without a doubt for the 5 of us - it was one of our absolute highlights! Firstly the drive. Yes it’s long, bumpy and not massively enjoyable but it’s flat and relatively easy to drive. I wouldn’t say a 4x4 is needed, you would just need to drive slower! It took us just over an hour from San Pedro. Once you arrive there are 7 pools of which you can swim in the first and last. Swimming in the salt lakes on its own is an incredible experience. However once you add in the amazing scenery and colours it makes it’s a very unique and super fun activity. Our three children (ages 5,8,10) loved it. One thing worth noting, completely unplanned, we got there around 15:00 and it was virtually empty. However at 16:00 suddenly it filled up hugely with tours so if you are able to self drive - worth planning around that!

10. Laguna Cejar

20 KM from San Pedro de Atacama, San Pedro de Atacama Chile
Excellent
50%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
14%
Poor
6%
Terrible
5%
Overall Ratings

4.0 based on 1,626 reviews

Laguna Cejar

Reviewed By rdkjsd

We self-drove to Laguna Cejar. Easy to get there from San Pedro. They have 3 lagoons that you can view. Our favorite was Laguna Piedra which has a high salinity content. Visitors are allowed to swim in lake Piedra -- lot of fun as the high salt content makes it easy to float. Very cold water, however. They have clean, modern bathrooms and changing rooms as well as an outdoor shower where you can wash off the salt from the lagoon. Also have 2 shades areas where you can eat (have to bring any snacks/food) with you. Highly recommend.

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