Atacama Desert: Lagoons & Salt Flats

The Chilean Altiplano
This full-day excursion includes visits to some of the most incredible natural wonders in the Atacama Desert. The first destination is Laguna Chaxa, a desert oasis lagoon located 50 km (31 miles) from the town of San Pedro de Atacama. Chaxa is situated in the middle of the Atacama Salar salt flats, where you'll also find Los Flamencos National Reserve. This protected area is home to flocks of Chilean flamingos whose pink feathers shine brightly against the contrasting blue of the shallow water.

At lunchtime, the tour stops in Socaire, a humble agricultural village famous for its simple adobe homes, rustic chapel, and slow pace of life. After eating, the excursion continues towards the Altiplano (high plateau) lagoons of Miscanti and Miñiques, which are located at a whopping 4,200 meters (13,779 feet) in elevation. Here there are panoramic views of an Altiplano desert surrounded by towering volcanoes and abounding with wildlife like flamencos, foxes, and vicunas.

The last stop on the tour is a visit to the town of Toconao, an oasis with a climate ideal for the cultivation of native fruits and vegetables. The streets are filled with vendors selling artisanal handicrafts and the local homes are cobbled together out of volcanic rocks. The town also boasts a beautiful white-washed church with a three-storied belltower. The church dates back to 1750 and has been declared a national monument.
Photos

Itineraries with Atacama Desert: Lagoons & Salt Flats

Patagonia & Atacama Desert - 10 Days

Explore regions on both ends of Chile's latitudinal spectrum with this 10-day itinerary. After getting a taste of Santiago, fly north to the Atacama desert—an oasis in the driest part in the world known for geysers, moonscapes, and starry skies. Then fly all the way south to Patagonia's Punta Arenas where you'll meet a penguin colony before finishing in Torres del Paine National Park for a range of activities and wildlife viewing.

Atacama Desert & Marble Caves Adventure - 7 Days

On this itinerary, you'll get to experience the two most beautiful regions of Chile: the northern Atacama Desert and southern Patagonia. Your adventure begins in the capital city of Santiago, where you'll glean insight into the culture on a city tour. Then it's off to the north and the otherworldly desert landscapes of Atacama. You'll visit geysers, lunar valleys, and even do some high-altitude stargazing. Finally, you'll head to Chile's unspoiled Patagonia region, where you'll visit one of the most unique sites on the continent: the marble caves of Lago General Carrera.

Atacama Desert & Easter Island - 13 Days

This 13-day trip combines two bucket-list items in Chile rarely visited by tourists. Kick off with a day in Santiago before you’re jetting off again—this time to the South Pacific. Halfway between Tahiti and Chile, Easter Island is graced with white sand beaches and 600+ mysterious statues carved from volcanic rock. The second half of the trip takes place in a high-altitude desert on the mainland for sand dunes, geysers, hot springs, and starry skies—perfect for sipping Chilean wine.

Best of Chile - 9 Days

Explore two spectacular regions of Chile where few travelers venture on this 9-day itinerary. After checking out Santiago, you'll fly to the Atacama desert—an oasis in the driest part in the world known for geysers, salt flats, and starry skies. From here, head to Patagonia where you'll experience Torres del Paine National Park via a range of activities while staying in a fully sustainable EcoCamp.

Elqui Valley & Atacama Desert - 9 Days

Explore two regions of Chile where few travelers venture on this 9-day itinerary. After checking out Santiago, you'll fly to the northern coast for day trips to offshore islands and Elqui Valley wine country. From here, head to the Atacama desert—an oasis in the driest part in the world known for its geysers, salt flats, and starry skies. If that's not enough, you'll also meet local indigenous communities on a guided cultural excursion.

Chile Highlights Adventure - 14 Days

The secret's out: Chile is one of the most naturally beautiful countries in Latin America, which places it high in the running for one of the most naturally beautiful countries in the world. This two-week adventure covers three of its most incredible regions. The first major stop on the itinerary is the northern Atacama Desert, which is famous for its lunar landscapes, steaming geysers, and expansive salt flats. Then it's off to Torres del Paine, the most-visited national park in Chilean Patagonia. Finally, you'll visit Rapa Nui, or Easter Island as its commonly known, to discover the secrets of its great stone idols.

Exploring Santiago & the Atacama Desert - 7 Days

This week-long itinerary allows you to experience the major cities and wine regions of central Chile as well as the arid desert landscapes in the country's north. First, you'll arrive in Santiago and take a city tour before discovering the nearby wilderness and wine country. Then it's a trip to the coastal seaport and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Valparaiso. Afterward, you'll jet off to the Atacama Desert in the north, where you'll visit the indigenous villages, geysers, painted mountains, salt flats, and lunar landscapes for which the region is deservedly famous.

Central Chile, Lake District & Atacama Desert - 10 Days

Explore three distinct areas of Chile with this 10-day itinerary. After getting a taste (literally) of the big city and its nearby wine region, fly north to the Atacama desert—an oasis in the driest part in the world known for geysers, moonscapes, and starry skies. You'll then base yourself in a German-style lake town while taking day trips to volcanoes, waterfalls, and an exotic rainforest along the coast.

Natural Wonders of Chile & Bolivia - 11 Days

Check off two South American countries while experiencing some of the planet's most awe-inspiring and extreme natural wonders. Over 11 days, you'll discover a range of topographies including lush vineyards and high-altitude desert plateaus in Chile. Then, head across the border for otherworldly salt flats left behind by prehistoric lakes in Bolivia. Start and end the trip in Santiago and La Paz, respectively—two exciting capitals known for outstanding food and culture.

Chile Grand Tour - 14 Days

Outdoor adventurers rejoice because we've curated a two-week itinerary that covers the unparalleled natural beauty of Chile. First, you'll head to the far north of the country and tour the otherworldly landscapes of the Atacama Desert. Then it's off to Patagonia and Torres del Paine National Park, home to the most awe-inspiring mountains and unspoiled nature in Chile. You'll then finish the journey far in the Pacific, amid the giant stone idols of Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island.