Classic Destinations

Not to be missed in San Pedro de Atacama

viernes, 31 de julio de 2009  
Tatio Geisers; El Tatio (Photo:Sernatur)

- The best places of San Pedro de Atacama
- San Pedro de Atacama

Bathing in the Hot Springs: If the idea is to cool off, the mountains provide two quality water options. The first is the Alberto Terrazas Oasis, formerly known as Pozo 3. It is a warm pool with exquisite natural waters, at an average temperature of 23° C, which springs  from a mineral well. The spa is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

The second option is the Puritama hot springs, located in the very heart of the desert, over 3,500 meters high and 30 kilometers north of San Pedro. The view overwhelms and a breathtaking, impressively beautiful mountain canyon is the prelude to the Hot Springs resort. There are several springs in the open air, with waterfalls and giant foxtails that provide privacy in each pool. The hot springs and salt waters’ temperature ranges from  25 to 33 degrees and are said to have healing properties. For centuries, they were the privilege of the villagers, until they were opened to the public and redesigned by the same architect of the Explora Hotel.

Sandboarding: is one of the favorite activities of the young and not so young alike. On boards similar to a snowboard, adventurers look for the best dunes in the Valle de la Muerte. There are no chairlifts, and the falls are rougher than in snow, but the exciting descent offsets the fatigue and the bumps and bruises.

Sunset in the Valle de la Luna: The Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) lies 17 kilometers from San Pedro de Atacama, in the Cordillera de la Sal area  It is a very popular stop for visitors, and it was declared a Nature Sanctuary because of its extraordinary beauty and outlandish lunar appearance. People usually travel  before sunset and pay a low entrance fee upon arrival. The spectacle is amazing; bizarre rock and sand formations, caves, salt rock formations that resemble sculptures, are just part of the charm. When the sun sets  in the west, the desert is painted in  majestic colors. Then the impressive cold sets in. It’s an extraordinary experience on a full moon night.

Participate in the Altiplanic Festivities: This is a great way to grasp the atacameña culture. Folk dances in religious festivals, food and beverages that are enjoyed over several days, in which one can delve into the Altiplanic cosmomision. The best opportunities are the Carnaval, in the last days of February, the Fiesta de San Pedro, on June 29, when dance groups from nearby towns get together, and the Adoración del niño Dios, with religious dances on December 25.

Bike Riding: It’s no coincidence that almost all the residents of San Pedro use bicycle as a means of travel. Bicycles allow people to move around the different sectors of the town and stave off the heat. In the town’s center one can rent a mountain bike and choose one of the various routes that have become famous in the area. For example, towards the Valle de la Muerte or up to the ancient tunnel dating back to 1930 in the salt mountains. The most popular excursion is the one that goes up to the Garganta del Diablo, the mountainous sector close to Quitor, where the walls of the mountains allow only for pedestrians and bikers. It’s an extraordinary spectacle of colors and shapes.