Mountain bikers, this one's for you! Cycle through the Atacama Desert off the beaten path and into areas not yet accessible by vehicle, only currently frequented by llama and goat herds. Small villages, geysers, lagoons, valleys, archaeological ruins, Andean wildlife, and spectacular panoramas crowned by dormant volcanoes await!

Highlights

  • Cycle off the beaten track in the Atacama Desert
  • Visit the red, blue, and violet-colored hills of Rainbow Valley
  • Take a dip in the salty waters of the bright turquoise lagoons
  • Bike downhill on dirt roads against a backdrop of volcanoes and salt flats

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 San Pedro de Atacama & Moon Valley San Pedro de Atacama
Day 2 Atacama Salt Flat, lagoons, Socaire & Toconao San Pedro de Atacama
Day 3 Tatio geysers & downhill biking to Caspana San Pedro de Atacama
Day 4 Toco Hill downhill to San Pedro, Catarpe Valley, Cornizas, & Death Valley San Pedro de Atacama
Day 5 Rainbow Valley & Cejar Lagoon San Pedro de Atacama
Day 6 Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: San Pedro de Atacama & Moon Valley

The rugged landscape of the Atacama Desert

Welcome to San Pedro de Atacama! It's here — about 90 minutes from the airport in Calama — that your Chilean adventure begins. Settle into your hotel and spend the afternoon checking out your bike and then taking it for its first ride to Moon Valley, where statuesque, rocky formations are crusted in salt, giving them the lunar look that inspired the name of the valley. Cycle to the salt mine, the salt caves, the sand dunes, and the Las Tres Marias salt statues. At sunset, climb the Big Dune for a celebratory cocktail and a view of the whole valley in the sunset light.

Cycling distance: 21 miles

Day 2: Salt Flats & Lagoons

Atacama Desert, Chile
Spot flamingos at the Salar

After breakfast, grab your gear and head to National Flamingo Reserve and the Atacama Salt Flat. The giant depression known as the Salar is the largest salt field in Chile and its altitude means it's an excellent place for panoramic views and photo ops. The bottom of the salt field is an enormous lake fed by mountain rivers and melting snow, and surrounded by lagoons full of flamingos.

From here, make your way to Socaire Village, 10,826 feet above sea level, to photograph the small church of San Bartolomé. Then drive to the intensely blue lagoons of Miscanti and Meñiques for a short hike before biking downhill on a dirt road with amazing views of the Atacama Salt Flat and the local volcanoes. Once you hit the asphalt, keep cycling until you reach Socaire, where a local lunch and a much-needed rest await. Later in the afternoon, one more cycle ride will take you alongside the Atacama all the way to Toconao

Cycling distance: 37 miles

Day 3: Tatio Geysers & The Vicuña Path Downhill to Caspana

Tatio Geysers

Rise before the sun on day three for an early-morning drive to the Tatio Geysers for a stroll through thermo-geologic fields and a dip in the natural pools of the White Geyser. Then continue on to the Vicuña Path, 15,420 feet above sea level, for a downhill ride on the Chita slope to the pretty town of Caspana. Finally, drive back to San Pedro for lunch and a free afternoon of relaxation, museum exploration, or a much-deserved nap.

Cycling distance: 24.5 miles

Day 4: Toco Hill Downhill to San Pedro, Catarpe Valley, Cornizas, & Death Valley

Enjoy a downhill ride to San Pedro

Start your fourth day in Chile with a drive to Cerro Toco, 17,060 feet above sea level, for another amazing downhill ride to San Pedro. New vistas of the Atacama Salt Flat and Licancabur Volcano will be your constant companion today, so don't forget that camera. On the way down, keep an eye out for llamas and alpacas.

After lunch in town, head out on another ride — this time from San Pedro to the lush, green Catarpe Valley. Pedal uphill to an old tunnel at Cornizas for a sweeping view of the valley and the San Pedro River. Then continue along Cornizas Trail to Death Valley, famous for its enormous mineral sculptures formed by wind and rain. 

Cycling distance: 41 miles

Day 5: Rainbow Valley & Cejar Lagoon

Take in spectacular vistas on your ride

Grab a quick breakfast and take to the road again, making your way to the archeological site of the Yerbas Buenas Petroglyphs. From there, cycle toward Rainbow Valley — one of the most beautiful and least-known places in Atacama. Bike across uniquely colored hills, turned shades of violet, red, gray, and blue by minerals.

Circle back to San Pedro for lunch and then head out on one last ride to the Cejar Lagoon. Don't forget your bathing suit — the bright turquoise lagoon is a unique place for a swim, with so much condensed salt that it's easy to float. After the lagoon, make your way to Ojos del Salar, where two small lagoons, another stunning sunset scene, and a farewell cocktail await. 

Cycling distance: 41 miles

Day 6: Departure

Spend your morning exploring the town, grabbing a few last souvenirs, and packing your bags before transferring to the airport and heading home!