Atacama & Altiplano
The high Altiplano of the Atacama Desert has rivers, green canyons, lakes, geysers, salt flats with flamingos, sand dunes and natural hot springs. Our experienced guides look forward to showing you this unique and spectacular place through a range of exciting excursions.
The Andes Mountains and the Domeyko Range glorify the area with their spectacular forms.
More than eight volcanoes are visible from the hotel, two still active. Their peaks reach a height of nearly 21.000 feet (6.000m). The desert air is clear and the light is magical. The Atacama Desert is one of the best places on the whole planet for stargazing, the night skies and the Milky Way in particular are truly unforgettable.
The world's largest observatory and telescope placed nearby high in the Chilean Altiplano. The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), is a joint project between the USA, the European Union and East Asia.
Read more about this unique project on the ALMA website here.
San Pedro de Atacama
San Pedro de Atacama is an oasis village fed by two rivers and surrounded by outstanding natural beauty, including the Andes Mountains, volcanoes, salt flats filled with flamingos, high plateau, grassy river beds and salt crusted caves. It is at an altitude of 7.920 feet/2.400 meters.
San Pedro's history starts with civilizations from 10,000 years ago, and its people, traditions and culture of today descend from the Incas, Aymarás and Atacameñans. The village has an excellent museum, numerous restaurants, a historic church, and a wide variety of crafts sold by local people in the town market. Outlying streets are shaded with twisted desert trees and lined with lovely, hand-hewn fences.
Getting to San Pedro is easy thanks to many daily flights from Chile's capital city Santiago to the Calama airport. San Pedro is an hour drive from Calama.
The people who have learned to live in this hostile and beautiful high country have a rich cultural heritage that has long been the sourcebook for archaeologists. These are people with a great respect for nature, who live in harmony with the cosmos, and who have constructed communities built on solidarity and reciprocity. Cultures have existed for 10,000 years in the area. Traditional lifestyles in the outlying villages reflect the people's close connection with the earth.
A wonderful museum in the village captures the cultures of the Lican Antay, as well as the Twanaku and Inka people, in a collection amassed during the 20th century by the Belgian Jesuit priest, Father LePaige. We will show you archaeological sites such as the Pukara of Quitor and traditional adobe churches. Festivals and religious ceremonies occur throughout the year and reflect the continuity between then and now.
Crafts, textiles, and other folk arts are still practiced and can be found at the local market.
Flora and Fauna
The Altiplano is rich in species that have adapted to its extremes. Our guides will lead you to three varieties of flamingos, some with populations in the thousands, and many unusual birds including the Suri, Guayata, Tagua and a variety of ducks. Mammals in Atacama include llamas, vicuñas and vizcachas.
Trees and plants are varied, including algarrobos (Prosopis alba), chañar (Geoffrea decorticans) and Schinus molle. Giant cactus can be found at higher elevations. Common bushes and shrubs include cachiyuyo (Atriplex) and rica rica, which means tasty-tasty, because it makes a tasty herbal tea infusion.