Overview

The Atacama’s inhospitable desert landscape is harsh and rugged, but it isn't an empty wasteland. Volcanoes and geysers steam and hiss into life. Pink flamingos haunt the featureless white salt flats, cacti stride towards the horizon and oases splash the tawny landscape with vigorous vegetation, especially after rare flash rainfall. The culture and settlements echo with the legacy of the desert’s pre- and post- Columbian inhabitants, with ruined temples and dusty colonial villages. There are some top quality hotels and the area is becoming a favourite for adventure activities such as volcano climbing and horse riding. If coming from Santiago or Patagonia, you may notice the high altitude as you explore the Atacama: however, all hotels are in San Pedro - at a comfortable 2,450m.

THE UK’S № 1 SPECIALIST IN TRAVEL TO LATIN AMERICA

What our clients say Contact Us

Holidays Atacama Desert

Browse our selection of unique and memorable holidays visiting the Atacama Desert. Book now with Journey Latin America.

Portillo Ski Resort

Private Journeys

Chile

Active Chile: Andean Skiing and Atacama Desert Adventures

12 days from £5,899pp

(based on two people sharing & excluding flights)

BOL_UyuniSaltFlats_iStock_173828378

Group - Classic

Peru / Lake Titicaca / Bolivia / Chile

Andean Flamingo: Andes laid bare

17 days from £5,424pp

(based on two people sharing & excluding flights)

iStock ©

Private Journeys

Argentina / Chile / Patagonia

Family Patagonia: Glacial lakes and mountains

16 days from £-1pp

(based on two people sharing & excluding flights)

Hotel Owned ©

Private Journeys

Chile

Luxury Chile: Exclusive lodges and untamed landscapes

13 days from £13,100pp

(based on two people sharing & excluding flights)

Things to do

Enjoy a range of activities in the Atacama Desert, from seeing flamingos in the salt flats to exploring the Valley of the Moon. Book with Journey Latin America.

Where to go when - our guide to Atacama Desert

Atacama Desert

The weather in Atacama Desert is wide and varied

This lunar landscape is the world’s driest desert, where rain falls an average of six days a year. Its hissing geysers, sprawling salt flats and otherworldly valleys of magnificent amber rocks are accessible throughout the year, with daytime temperatures remaining mostly in the 20°Cs thanks to the surprisingly high altitude. Chilean summer runs from December - February, offering warmer, sunnier weather by day and the best conditions for viewing the milky way at night. During this time flocks of wild flamingos, which are scattered across the salt flats year-round, gather together in huge numbers. The resultant haze of magenta feathers against orange and purple-hued mountains is spectacular. In the run up to Lent you may catch the regional festivities of el Carnavalón.
Though chances of rainfall are very slim, it is worth bearing in mind that January has seen some downpours in recent years which are best avoided as they may restrict access to the salt flats.
March - May and September - November are pleasant shoulder seasons with somewhat cooler temperatures and fewer visitors. The winter months of June - August bring chilly nights which reach below zero degrees, and the added possibility of snowfall in July means this could be a less ideal time to visit. Then again, July coincides with the Fiesta de la Tirana, where locals don flamboyant costumes for the dance of the devil in the Tarapacá region.

View our Atacama Desert weather guide

Papagaio

Your edit for Latin American inspiration

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

View Extraordinary Inspiration
Bartolome, Galápagos

Meet our team

Real Latin american experts

  • Mary Anne Nelson
    Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Expert

    Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tour sales team.

  • Chris Rendell Dunn
    Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Expert

    Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours sales team.

  • CarrieGallagher2
    Carrie Gallagher - Travel Expert

    A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours department.

  • Lina Fuller
    Lina Fuller - Travel Expert

    Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba (Argentina) to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.

  • Sophie Barber
    Sophie Barber - Travel Expert

    Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia and beyond to Antarctica.

  • Hannah Waterhouse
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Expert

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

0 1 2 3 4 5