Best things to do in the Atacama desert

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At Pura Aventura we try to do things a bit differently, that's why we have our Pura Handmade range of holidays.

Chile's Atacama Desert is a prime example.

The Atacama is a popular destination with a well-worn checklist of excursions. Whilst these are beautiful, we prefer to stay off the beaten track. We think that it's better to be outside in the fresh air with a few people than travelling in a crowd.

Sunset in the desert

The usual way is to drive out of town to the rim of the Valley of the Moon, then walk just to the edge from where you watch the sun setting over the desert. On a busy day there can be over a hundred people sitting in a long line.

Our way is to drive out of town to the rim of a valley; walk down across a sand dune; over a short stretch of salt flat and into a narrow gorge in the salt mountains. As you follow the gorge, the air cools and the rocks crackle, with bats and owls flying overhead. Emerge into a natural amphitheatre hidden away in the middle of the hills, from where you watch the sunset.

The salt flats and lagoons

The usual way is to drive a dirt road to the large lagoons in the heart of the salt flats; have time to wander, take in the scenery and watch the large colony of flamingoes before returning by vehicle.

Our way is to ride bikes straight from your hotel to a series of small lagoons towards the northern edge of the salt flats, close to San Pedro where you have time to wander, swim and watch a smaller colony of flamingoes.

Special places

We also take you to places with nothing comparable on the usual tours. Walk down through the mountains from high oases to low villages following ancient Inca pathways. Most spectacular of all is the walk up to the heady heights of Toco volcano.

Tatio geysers

The one 'checklist' place we do take you to are the Tatio geysers. Whilst spectacular, you can expect really quite significant visitor numbers you can expect. This photo was taken in November which is not the busiest time of year.

We really think that our exploration of the Atacama desert is different and better than that offered by anyone else.

'The Atacama surpassed all our expectations, summiting Toco in glorious sunshine with snow on the ground was brilliant.'

Read more about our Atacama Patagonia walking holiday in Chile.

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