The Atacama Desert was one of my favorite landscapes of South America. The darkest and driest place on earth, the landscape was a huge contrast to the views of Patagonia that I had hike just the week before. As long as the altitude doesn’t bother you it’s a great first place to visit in South America.
Fly into Calama airport and then have a driver pick you up or if you’re on a budget take the bus to San Pedro de Atacama. I visited towards the end of busy season in May and although it was a little cold for swimming the weather didn’t affect any of the landscapes. Because you are in the desert and it is so dark the nights get pretty chilly and you’ll need a jacket but during the day you can be outside in just a t-shirt.
1. Piedras Rojas (Red Rocks)
The colors and formations of the rocks contrasted with the water made a pretty incredible view. I had never seen colors like this.
2. Laguna Miscanti
The altitude first started to hit me here but it didn’t detract from the view that almost looked like a fake watercolor.
3. Laguna Miñiques
Another beautiful landscape. The mountains created an amazing reflection in the lake.
4. Vicuñas in the Desert
Not to be confused with any of their similar relatives, llamas, alpacas or guanacos you might be able to spot a few if you’re lucky.
5. Valle de ll Luna (Moon Valley)
The hike uphill through the sand was more difficult than I anticipated but the view was worth it.
6. Geyser del Tatio (Tatio Geysers)
You have to wake up at the crack of dawn when it’s cooler for the best view of the Tatio Geisers so make sure you have warm socks gloves and layer up! After you visit the main geyser field go nearby where you can swim in the hot springs.
7. Flamingoes at Laguna Chaxa, Los Flamencos National Reserve
Flamingoes! Seeing flamingoes up close never gets old. See the field of salt flat rock formations and then watch the flamingoes feeding.
SEE ALSO: 48 Hours in San Pedro de Atacama