Atacama Desert Stargazing Outing, San Pedro de Atacama

4.1 (14 reviews)
Enjoy an outing in the Atacama Desert, where you'll receive an astronomy lesson, learn to stargaze, and visit an observatory.

Overview

For this stargazing outing in the Atacama Desert, it's common to start with hotel pickup or at a meeting point in downtown San Pedro de Atacama. From here, you can head to the Altiplano ("high plain"), where an expert astronomer might provide an astronomy lesson, explaining how to identify constellations using the naked eye as you gaze up at the night sky. Next, perhaps you'll visit the Las Campanas Observatory, where you can use high-powered telescopes to spot celestial objects, including planets, binary stars, and clusters, and capture photographs of the moon before ending the evening with a warm cup of cocoa.

Highlights

  • Learn from an expert astronomer about constellations and stargazing
  • Gaze up at the star-filled night sky without needing any equipment 
  • Visit South America's largest public observatory and use state-of-the-art telescopes
  • Capture photographs of the moon's crater-covered surface
  • Enjoy a steaming cup of hot chocolate as you reflect on what you've seen

Know before you go

Recommended for
All ages
Group
Group tour

What you'll do

Your evening outing will likely begin with a pick-up from your hotel or a meet-up at a predetermined spot. Next, you'll likely journey to the Altiplano, a high plateau surrounded by majestic volcanoes stretching far into Bolivia. Standing at a height up to 12,000 feet (3.6 km) above sea level, the Altiplano provides an excellent location for observing the cosmos.

The professional astronomer acting as your guide may provide an informative astronomy lesson. Together, you'll peer up at the night sky and take in the vividness of the stars on a clear night as they help you identify various celestial formations and tell you more about them. Then, using high-powered telescopes or binoculars, you may spot an array of celestial bodies, including planets, binary stars, and spherical clusters.

Next, it's common to head to South America's largest astronomical observatory, Las Campanas Observatory. Here, you may use state-of-the-art telescopes to spot planets invisible to the naked eye and capture awe-inspiring photographs of the moon's crater-covered surfaces. Typically, the evening ends with a cup of cocoa and a return to downtown San Pedro.

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Traveler reviews

14 total ratings, 14 with reviews
4.1
Feature ratings
Quality of Experience
4.2
Guides, Drivers and Staff
4.5
Transport
4.3
E
Erin M.
Ashburn, VA | Reviewed on Jun 14, 2024
This tour was second only to the salt flats. We were able to view the stars through telescopes. Tour guide took pictures and emailed to us, that was a nice and unexpected gift. Read more

This tour was second only to the salt flats. We were able to view the stars through telescopes. Tour guide took pictures and emailed to us, that was a nice and unexpected gift.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Mike
Mike S.
Waterford, MI | Reviewed on Apr 02, 2024
This tour is so informative! You will get a chance to use one or more telescopes to see some incredible celestial bodies. Read more

This tour is so informative! You will get a chance to use one or more telescopes to see some incredible celestial bodies.

Tips for future travelers

There is a chance that you will get back late from this tour. It's best not to schedule an early tour the next morning.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Samir
Samir K.
Issaquah, WA | Reviewed on Jan 05, 2024
Watchin Saturn Rings and Band of Jupiter along with the Nebula was the highlight of this trip for me. Getting a few tips/lessons in astronomy before stargazing was also fun. Read more

Watchin Saturn Rings and Band of Jupiter along with the Nebula was the highlight of this trip for me. Getting a few tips/lessons in astronomy before stargazing was also fun.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
L
Lindsey G.
Center Conway, NH | Reviewed on Oct 19, 2023
This was enjoyable, but prepare yourself for it to be very cold and it goes much longer than I expected Read more

This was enjoyable, but prepare yourself for it to be very cold and it goes much longer than I expected

Tips for future travelers

You will return close to 11-midnight and it will be quite cold

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
P
Polina S.
Germany | Reviewed on Oct 19, 2023
The guide has a very boring way to explain actually very interesting stories. We were 15 people and you could see that 10 of us were very bored. On each question his answer was at least 15min in Spanish and then 15min in English. And after 2 of these minutes we were just not able to listen any more Read more

The guide has a very boring way to explain actually very interesting stories. We were 15 people and you could see that 10 of us were very bored. On each question his answer was at least 15min in Spanish and then 15min in English. And after 2 of these minutes we were just not able to listen any more

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
C
Clara L.
Concord, NH | Reviewed on Sep 16, 2023
This was a life changing experience. It is hard to describe how truly incredible the night sky is in Atacama.
We were picked up promptly from our hotel. Initially there was some confusion because we were told that the tour would be in English, and when we were picked up the driver only spoke Spanish. However, when we arrived at the destination the actual guides spoke Spanish and English. There were about 20-25 people participating, and we were broken up into three groups - those of us taking...
Read more

This was a life changing experience. It is hard to describe how truly incredible the night sky is in Atacama.
We were picked up promptly from our hotel. Initially there was some confusion because we were told that the tour would be in English, and when we were picked up the driver only spoke Spanish. However, when we arrived at the destination the actual guides spoke Spanish and English. There were about 20-25 people participating, and we were broken up into three groups - those of us taking the tour in English were one group and the other two groups were Spanish speaking. The groups took turns at the three stations. Our groups' first station was the snack station, where our guide told us about the indigenous peoples' relationship to the stars, and about various constellations. There was a fire. It was lovely. We then went to the photography station. They had a very high-tech camera set up so everyone was able to get a photograph that depicted how the sky looked - something regular cameras surely would not have been able to pick up. Finally, we went to the station that had a couple of high-powered telescopes. We looked at Saturn (you could see the rings using the telescope), and this was the most science-heavy part of the tour. We learned about why different stars are different colors, how they are formed and die, etc. Honestly the sky was so incredible on its own that I would have been happy sitting in a field just looking at it, but the tour added some much-appreciated context that made the experience even more special.

Tips for future travelers

Bundle up - it does get cold so follow the tour operator's advice about wearing a jacket, hat, mittens, and scarf. Although there is no strenuous walking on this tour, it is very dark so a little treacherous to move about. Wear comfortable and supportive shoes.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
The roads were dark and bumpy and the driver was FLYING. It was a little scary, although we came to learn typical of Atacama tour drivers . . .
M
Melanie A.
Coney Island, NY | Reviewed on Sep 16, 2023
I can’t recommend this highly enough. It was so, so amazing and the men giving the lessons were so passionate about the subject. It really was one of the most beautiful skies I have ever seen. We were also given snacks (with homemade jam and mayonnaise made by one of the men’s mothers) and wine, and got to sit around a fire while we ate and drank. It was a very special tour and I would do it again if I returned To San Pedro. Read more

I can’t recommend this highly enough. It was so, so amazing and the men giving the lessons were so passionate about the subject. It really was one of the most beautiful skies I have ever seen. We were also given snacks (with homemade jam and mayonnaise made by one of the men’s mothers) and wine, and got to sit around a fire while we ate and drank. It was a very special tour and I would do it again if I returned To San Pedro.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Mark
Mark S.
Dowling, MI | Reviewed on May 23, 2023
The stargazing tour was changed to moon gazing due to the weather and lack of stars. The tour was eventually canceled, but a refund was received. Read more

The stargazing tour was changed to moon gazing due to the weather and lack of stars. The tour was eventually canceled, but a refund was received.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
E
Ellie F.
United Kingdom | Reviewed on Apr 25, 2023
This was an absolutely amazing trip - not a long drive and such a special evening. Our guide was incredible with his knowledge and thank you so much for our photograph of the night sky Read more

This was an absolutely amazing trip - not a long drive and such a special evening. Our guide was incredible with his knowledge and thank you so much for our photograph of the night sky

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Desiree
Desiree K.
Bakersfield, CA | Reviewed on Apr 15, 2023
The knowledge and being able to use a telescope was fantastic. I really enjoyed learning the differences in what could be seen from different hemispheres.
The email that was sent of pictures was an added bonus that really helped remember what the guide was saying about the stars.
Read more

The knowledge and being able to use a telescope was fantastic. I really enjoyed learning the differences in what could be seen from different hemispheres.
The email that was sent of pictures was an added bonus that really helped remember what the guide was saying about the stars.

Tips for future travelers

Check to see if the full moon is around the time of event. The full moon was the day after and created a very bright sky.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
The guide was very nice and you can tell he loved what he was showing us.
Transport

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