Just returned from a whirlwind tour of San Pedro de Atacama, up in the desert north. The Atacama desert is the driest in the world and home to some pretty incredible vistas, as well as flora and fauna (not to mention the people!!).It is believed that the Atacameños (also known as the Likan-Antay), first settled in this area some 11,000 years ago. Today, the town is a tourist hot-spot for folks looking to check out all the desert has to offer. We managed to pack a lot of stuff into our long weekend but we still didn’t see everything. Here are a couple of the many activities available in San Pedro.
1. Los Géiseres de Tatio–located some 4,320 meters above sea level, the Tatio geyser field is one of the highest in the world. You have to get up at 4 am for the tour, since the freezing air provides the best contrast to the hot water (and thus, the best viewing). It’s freezing, but totally worth it. Plus, you can warm yourself up afterwards with the hot springs and some llama meat empanadas.
2. Las Lagunas de Cejar–A series of salt-water lagoons left over from when the whole area was a sea. As the climate changed, this region became drier and drier, and the majority of the water evaporated out, leaving enormous salt fields and small lagoons that are nearly as salty as the Dead Sea.
3. Pukará de Quitor y los Cuevas del Diablo–The Pukará was a fortress used by the Atacameños to fight off the Spanish. After much fighting, the Spaniards won out, and slaughtered most of the population, mounting the heads of the caciques on spikes as a warning to other local people. Right next to the pukará are the Cuevas del Diablo, huge rock spires with plenty of caves to explore around the base.