Atacama Desert tours
Tierra Atacama

Active Adventure in the Atacama Desert

The Atacama Desert in Northern Chile is one of the most surreal places on earth, and a great place to start your adventure in Chile.
In this sample 6-day itinerary, adventure-seekers can test their abilities through hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding over a variety of terrains that the desert offers. At Tierra Atacama, our expert guides and friendly staff are on hand to ensure you get the most out of your trip.
View of Licancabur volcano

Snaking through the desert are the Andes and Domeyko mountain ranges, the Licancabur Volcano stands over the desert at an imposing 19,420ft and can be admired from all areas of Tierra Atacama.

Full moon hike in the Atacama Desert Chile

In the shadow of these immense formations lie rocky, wind-hewn gorges in shades of burning red, giving you the feeling that you’ve just landed on the moon. You’ll also discover the incredible flora and fauna which thrives here, alive and well in the world’s driest desert plains.

Atacama Desert Chile

The desert of Atacama sprawls across almost 50,000sq m with little or no sign of man-made life and at times, zero cloud cover. The light pollution here is incredibly low, making stargazing in the Atacama Desert an unparalleled experience.

If looking to visit Santiago during your stay at Tierra Atacama, why not take advantage of this package, as you will receive the following, FREE:*

*This offer is only available during certain times of the year and may not be used in conjunction with any other promotion, offer or discounted rate.

Active Adventure in the Atacama Desert - 6 Nights at Tierra Atacama

Sample Itinerary – Activities are subject to availability and weather conditions

Day 1 – Arrival and Atacama Salt Flats Tour

Having arrived at Tierra Atacama in the late morning, our guides will sit down with you to find out what sort of activities and Atacama Desert adventures you might be interested in, creating an excursion plan for the upcoming days as you chat. Activities penciled in, you’ll then be shown around the hotel for an introduction to your new home and enjoy a delicious lunch, before perhaps setting out on an afternoon half-day tour – to the Atacama Salt Flats, for example – to get your Atacama Desert adventure started in style.
After visiting the village of Toconao, this scenic vehicle tour heads to Los Flamencos National Reserve at Chaxa Lagoon, home not only to various Flamingo species but also to Andean Gulls, Highland Chorlos and more birdlife. While taking a gentle walk along the trails that wind their way around this watery haven, there’s no doubt you’ll be reaching for the camera to capture this landscape of vast open skies, imposing peaks looming on the horizon and the colors of the sunset mirrored in Chaxa Lagoon, as the Flamingos go about their own daily business.

  • Flamingoes in the salar de atacama
  • Salar de Atacama

Day 2 – Moon Valley and Atacama Astronomy Tours

After a comfortable first night at Tierra Atacama, wake up with the sight of beautiful desert views and head to our dining room for breakfast before meeting with your guide, who will then lead the way on a half-day tour of the Moon Valley.  Here, marvel at the raw beauty of the Atacama Desert, its dunes, deep canyons and dramatic lunar landscapes – a place sure to leave visitors feeling awestruck – as your guide explains the finer geographical details of this spectacular place.

Back at Tierra, sit down for a delicious dinner before venturing out again for a rather special after-dark astronomy excursion, one of Atacama’s must-see experiences and a perfect way to round off the day.

Day 3 – Horseback Riding in the Atacama Desert

Opt for something a little different today by venturing out on a horseback ride through the wild scenery which surrounds our lodge, an unmissable chance to explore the Atacama Desert in an exhilarating and surprisingly spiritual way. The difficulty level and duration of the ride itself are up to you: they can be half or full-day tours and as easy or challenging as each rider sees fit! What’s more, as part of our commitment to sustainability, we always work with small, local providers; our guides are true experts in their field and take great care of their beautiful horses, using typical Chilean riding gear. So, saddle up and prepare for an energizing excursion deep into the Atacama Desert.

Following your horseback adventure, why not head to the Uma Spa at Tierra Atacama for a chance to rest weary bones and treat yourself to a calming therapy? The heated pool, outdoor hot tub and relaxation space are sure to leave you feeling pampered after a busy day.

  • The pool at Tierra Atacama

Day 4 – Tatio Geysers at Sunrise

An early start this morning is more than made up for at the Tatio Geysers, which you’ll reach just as the sun begins to emerge above the horizon, casting an ethereal glow on the vapor columns which tower at a height of 12 meters. Spend some time appreciating this geothermal field, home to over 80 active geysers which protrude from bubbling pools of boiling water, before hopping back in the vehicle to make your way home. In the light of day, you’ll be able to spot Vicuñas, Foxes, Vizcachas and Andean Ostriches roaming outside your window, making a stop at the picturesque, adobe village of Machuca and arriving back at the hotel.

  • Atacama Desert Chile

Day 5 – Guatin-Gatchi Valley Hike

Expect a confection of distinctive desert plant life and trickling rivers, on this tour to the Valle de Guatin.  A short drive takes you to this flourishing valley, where you’ll start by hiking through a Cardon forest, encountering the giant cacti that are known to thrive in the area before hiking to the confluence of two rivers: the Puritama and Purifica.  What’s notable about these colliding rivers is that the former is made up of warm, thermal waters while the latter is cool, mountain meltwater, and together they merge to give birth to the Vilama River, which in turn brings life to Guatin Valley’s delicate ecosystem.  You’ll continue through the valley, over a rocky pathway dotted with small waterfalls and across the gushing river, passing interesting vegetation endemic to the region along the way. Then, a captivating panorama of the sweeping valley below makes for a worthy finale to this refreshing walk in Guatin Gatchi.

Day 6 – Lascar Volcano

Conquering the elements, altitude and weary legs to reach the rim of the Lascar crater is a mission that promises all the thrills of a strenuous mountain climb.  You’ll earn effortlessly beautiful scenery along the way and an opportunity to boast that you climbed the most active volcano in northern Chile!

Departing the hotel in the safe hands of our expert local guides, you will travel by van across the plains to the trailhead.  The drive will gradually ascend to a starting altitude of 4,800m (16,000ft), passing the blissful waters of Laguna Lejía on the way. You’ll experience an increase in altitude of roughly 600m during the 3km hike, with each exciting step taking you closer to the tantalizing prospect of steaming fumaroles and smoking potholes, both of which fill the main crater. The rocky trails do not require technical ability, though the climb is relatively steep, snaking your way up the south-eastern side of this famous Chilean landmark.

Upon reaching the crater’s edge, the resulting vistas are all about the sprawling salt flats and adjacent Laguna Lejía below.  The sheer spectacle of witnessing the inner workings of a slowly depleting volcano up close is an irreplicable and unforgettable experience.

*Please note:  Climbing hills and volcanoes in the Atacama is considered to be highly challenging.  Based on the physical conditions of each guest, and for their own security, we reserve the right to prohibit high-altitude

Day 7 – Biking through San Pedro and Departure

On your final day in the Atacama Desert, head into the town of San Pedro.  As you explore the dusty streets you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported back in time.

Be sure to pick up some locally hand-crafted souvenirs while you are here – keep an eye out for genuine alpaca wool sweaters and copper jewelry, before you bid farewell and are transferred to the airport, ready for your journey home or onward adventure in Chile – to Chiloé or Patagonia, for example!

  • Atacama Desert Chile

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