San Pedro de Atacama in 5 days: the most intense experience

Houses in San Pedro de Atacama village

This post is also available in: Español

You are going to travel to Chile and you don’t contemplate the option of leaving any corner of the wonderful country behind. We like that attitude! You know there are certain mandatory stops, but you don’t know how to organize yourself to make it all flow. Well, beyond doing the trekking in Torres del Paine, you can’t miss discovering San Pedro de Atacama, the red planet on Earth. And for you to discover it well we propose what to do in San Pedro de Atacama in 5 days.


Before we start, we warn you that we are talking about 5 very intense days in San Pedro de Atacama. We don’t want you to miss any detail of this visit and that’s why our goal is that the night arrives and you feel satisfied and above all, you have the conviction that you are getting the most out of your stay. Let’s get to it!

Day 1: Rainbow Valley

Building on the enthusiasm and excitement of the first day, we propose a non-stop day. The Rainbow Valley tour and the petroglyphs of Yerbas Buenas is our first choice. It starts at 8:00 and ends at 13:30 which is perfect to continue making plans for the rest of the afternoon.

Multicolored mountains in Atacama Rainbow Valley

And here comes the afternoon plan: visit Laguna Cejar, Ojos del Salar and Laguna Tebernique. Don’t forget your swimsuit! Let yourself be conquered by the most turquoise of blues and be surprised to see the Andes Mountains reflected in the sunset.

Day 2: Termas de Puritama

We know you would need time to recover from the hangover of emotions you experienced yesterday, but the pace can’t stop. Starting the day with a visit Termas de Puritama where you can enjoy a relaxing bath surrounded by greenery. Don’t fall asleep, you have to keep going!

People swimming in the Termas de Puritama

After a rejuvenating swim in the healing waters of the Puritama River, the Moon Valley and Death Valley await you to surprise you with their geological formations against the backdrop of majestic volcanoes.

Day 3: Tatio Geysers

We are at the halfway point of your trip in San Pedro de Atacama, it is a special day. Today is your turn to enjoy a movie sunrise. It’s about watching the sunrise in front of one of the most important geothermal fields in the world, and the largest in South America: the Tatio Geyser.

People behind Tatio Geyser steam

If you thought this was the best part, wait until you dive into its warm waters before continuing the tour to Machuca Village. Were you planning on soaking all day? Machuca is a small village of agro-pastoral origins whose historical and cultural appeal will make you fall in love.

This day is the day, the day in which you will discover many things and you will enjoy many more. Do you feel like seeing stars, nebulae and galaxies? You’re in for a unique astronomical experience through which to learn what lies beyond what the eye can see. After this, who doesn’t have sweet dreams?

Day 4: Piedras Rojas

Due to water erosion and the oxidation of the iron present in the site, the rocks of Piedras Rojas have a hue (guess what color) and shape that is difficult to find elsewhere on the planet. The best time to visit Piedras Rojas is after the rains, when the water has cleaned the stones and they have a greater intensity of color.

Piedras Rojas is very close to the Altiplanic Lagoons, so visiting Piedras Rojas and the Altiplanic Lagoons is a perfect plan to spend the whole day. It seems that the intensity of colors sticks because the waters of Lagunas Miscanti and Miñiques are of an incomparable blue.

Laguna Miscanti in Atacama Desert

Day 5: Toconao

After 4 very intense days, today we recommend that you slow down a bit to recharge your batteries for your next destination in Chile. Just 40 kilometers from San Pedro is Toconao. The town of Toconao is a town of colonial architecture built with volcanic stone. Toconao is known for its local handicrafts, so be prepared to buy!

Artisan snowboards in a small store in San Pedro de Atacama

In Toconao you can (and should) make a visit to the Valle del Jere, an oasis in the driest desert in the world: the Atacama Desert. In this valley is Quebrada de Jere, which is a rock formation through which flows the river that gives life to the valley. It’s impressive to see the green of the trees among the rocks!

And you will ask, isn’t it worth walking through the streets of San Pedro de Atacama? Of course, it is! Touring the hidden town in the middle of the most arid desert in the world is a wildcard plan, that is, every free moment you have can be invested in discovering the archaeological capital of Chile. It is a town of adobe and dirt streets that you can not forget because it is much more than the starting point for excursions in the Atacama highlands.


Dirt road in San Pedro de Atacama

This is our proposal to spend 5 days in San Pedro de Atacama. Squeezing the days to the maximum is starting to be our specialty and the result is pretty good, don’t you think? Each of the days is very special, we assure you, but we see your little smile with one in particular, which is the day that has stolen your heart?


Journalist, nomad and adventurer. Paula would never say no to a camping trip and is an expert in setting up a tent in less than 10 seconds.

Besides that, she loves to dance and maybe that's why she loves Latin America so much. One of her best trips was to Argentina, but she has many more destinations behind her, which she talks about in this blog.

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