+44 1273 676712
Chile patagonia carretera austral approaching cochrane

Chile

Exceptional holidays, beautifully local & certifiably responsible

Atacama - Copiapó

Whilst all other visitors concentrate on one small pocket of the Atacama near San Pedro, you can have this bit of it practically to yourself. In fact, you might be the only non-Chileans on the flight up...

Floating in a remote lagoon in the high Andes

Huge sand dunes rise up into ever-shifting mountains, at their most beautiful at sunset. Colourful flowers burst to life in the world's driest desert. Flamingos gather in high altiplano lagoons, not a trace of civilisation in sight. Copper mines dot the landscape, none more famous than San José of Los 33 fame. On the coast the seafood is fresh, the beaches empty and whales regular visitors to the seas in the summer.

This is a very different way to visit Chile's Atacama Desert, one we're proud to have pioneered.

Here's a taster of what we could share with you...


Los 33 and Chile's copper mines
Mining has been part of the cultural landscape of the Atacama region for over 2,000 years. The most infamous mine here is San Jose; the site of the 2010 rescue of the 33 miners trapped underground following its collapse. A decade on, you can join the trickle of visitors who come for a tour to hear the incredible story of the rescue. We do so on a day dedicated to its mining culture and, if you are lucky and timings allow, you might even be shown around by miner 11, Jorge Galleguillos.

Chile atacama copiapo santa rosa lagoon flamingos c tom power
Flamingos gather in the shallow saline lagoons
Chile copiapo mining visit c alvaro guide
Visiting the scene of the 'Los 33' copper mine rescue


The flowering desert
For a few weeks between September and November, the great swathe of open desert which sweeps down from Copiapó towards the Pacific can become covered in desert. There are flowers as far as the eye can see; some 200 species in a rainbow of colours from red to yellow, white, blue and purple. It’s a quite extraordinary phenomenon for the driest place on earth outside of the polar regions.

The desert comes into bloom sometime in spring time, though the scale of it is directly linked to the amount of rainfall the previous autumn (March/April). So on some years the carpet of flowers is more extensive and dense than others.

Whale watching, and lunch with feet in the sand

Between December and February the tiny coastal hamlet of Chañaral de Aceituna in the Atacama becomes a hub for whale watching. With a bit of luck, you can spot Blue, Fin, Humpback and Minke whales, as well as Orca and Bottlenose Dolphins, on two-hour boat trips into the sea. And where most of the Chilean coast is blasted by the cold waters of the Humboldt Current, further north up the coast near Copiapó, the relatively shallow sandy bay and seemingly endless sun makes for an acceptable dip in the Pacific. As well as the long, long beach, you have fantastic seafood. So a long lunch with your feet in the sand might just be the order of the day. Buen provecho!

Chile atacama copiapo mar de dunas exploring by pickup c tom power
The 'Sea of Dunes' spills down to your 7-room hotel
Chile copiapo coast sunset c alvaro guide
Sunset on the beautifully wild Pacific coast


How to visit Copiapó and the Atacama with Pura Aventura

The vast majority of people who visit Chile's Atacama Desert are based at San Pedro, close to the Bolivian border. But when we visited Copiapó for the first time two years ago, we fell in love with it all. With the landscapes, the people, the hotel, the mining stories, the whole untouched emptiness of it all.

You'll probably stay for four or five nights at a lovely 7-room abode located on the edge of town in a wide valley, close to vineyards and olive mills. If it's whale watching season (late Nov-Feb) these will be split between the coast and Copiapó.

Busy as it is, San Pedro might suit you best if you like walking perhaps or simply if you want to see its famous highlights, shared in our own unique way. Either way, the Atacama works particularly well in conjunction with Patagonia, giving you a true feel for the landscapes and way of life at Chile's two extremes.

Enjoy reading through everything we do and share in Chile, and the trip ideas below, but if it's easier to have a chat, please do pick the phone or let us know when we can schedule a call.

Chile copiapo birdwatching lagoon c alvaro guide

Atacama & Patagonia Off the Beaten Track Holiday

  • £7,880 pp
  • 21 days
Chile maule valley casa bouchon pickers

Hidden Treasures of Central Chile Road Trip

  • £9,450 pp
  • 28 days

Travel Positive with Pura Aventura

Exceptional holidays in exceptional places.

Exceptional Holidays

From the moment you start planning to the lifelong memories you bring back, your holiday will be truly exceptional and tailored to a degree that is difficult for others to achieve.

Beautifully Local

Your holiday will be deeply rooted into its local surroundings, from the people you meet and the places you stay, to the food on your plate and the wine in your glass.

Certifiably Responsible

As one of the first travel companies in the UK to certify as a B Corp, we ensure your holiday will have a positive impact for the planet, our partners and the places you visit.

Logo atol Logo feefo platinum 2020 Logo abtot Bcorp logo