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Off the beaten path Atacama Desert overland

Expeditions

Off the beaten path Atacama Desert overland * 14 DAYS * From USD$2,250

An overland active expedition at your pace visiting most of the National Parks of Atacama Desert and its real inhabitants. This is a trip that mostly stays away from crowded places and visits remote areas to find pristine environments and authentic contact with people. Only for small groups or private.

Price

If the tour group consists of 5 people the price per person is USD$2,250 | If group size is 4 people; USD$2,385  | If group size is 3 people; USD$2,590  | If group size is 2 people; USD$2,780  | If only 1 person; USD$3,900 .

Group Size

1 to 5 people.

Tour Length

14 Days.

Date

Any date upon reservation.

Meeting Time

09:00 am.

Pick Up from Accomodation

Yes.

Included

Transportation on private 4×4 vehicle, all tickets to attractions/parks in the program, filtered water all the way, food and accommodation as mentioned in the itinerary and specialized bilingual guide.

Not Included

Travel insurance, accommodation at Arica(available on request), everything not mentioned in the itinerary.

Route (Referential Map)

Itinerary

DAY 1

ARICA – AZAPA VALLEY – CHINCHORRO MUMMIES – LLUTA VALLEY – CODPA

Departing from the northernmost city of Chile, we’ll cross the Azapa valley, nationally famous for its production of high quality olives and olive oil. Surrounded by absolute desert, Azapa and the nearby Lluta valley are full with desert-green strong contrasts. We’ll take a moment to visit the San Andrés de Azapa museum, home of the Chinchorro mummies; we guarantee you’ll be surprise of how old they are!

Lunch is served in a small cozy place at the Lluta river valley and prepared with local ingredients.

From here we drive back to Arica just to keep on going towards the small desert town of Codpa, where we’ll spend the night (our first of many starry nights). With an elevation of around 1,900m above sea level, Codpa is a great place to start adapting your body to the higher altitude of the following days.

Food: Local lunch, Dinner.

Accommodation: Codpa rural accommodation; double room with private bathroom.

DAY 2

CODPA – PUTRE

A good breakfast and let’s keep exploring…the route is part of the “Route of the missions” which was originated from the end of the XVI century and built around the Silver Route of Potosí, which connected the legendary mineral with the port of Arica. There are many churches along the way as the result of the Spanish occupation in the southern Andean territory, whose original inhabitants date back to the Tiwanacu and Inca. As we drive up to the foothills we’ll visit many small towns and some of their old churches, they are the main treasures of the Cultural Landscape of Arica and Parinacota region, constructed by their communities with stone, earth and Peruvian feather grass (Stipa ichu) in the midst of the amazing landscapes of the valleys, mountains and altiplano.

We’ll end our day at the town of Putre (3,500masl), located at the base of the Tarapaca volcano.

Food: Breakfast, lunch. Dinner is not included, there are a few restaurants in town.

Accommodation: La Chakana mountain lodge; Double room with private bathroom.

DAY 3

PUTRE – LAUCA NATIONAL PARK – ALLANE CREEK – PUTRE

This morning we leave town heading to the great Lauca National Park; to visit Chungará lake (one of the highest lakes in the world), Parinacota and Pomerape volcanoes and the Cotacotani lakes, where we’ll leave the vehicle and go for a nice hike on the feet of gigantic (+6,000m) volcanoes. Back in the car, we’ll hit the road again heading to the spectacular views of the Allane creek, which has become a hotspot for international professional photographers in the last years.

We’ll get back to Putre in time for dinner and rest.

Food: Breakfast, box lunch. Dinner is not included, there are a few restaurants in town.

Accommodation: La Chakana mountain lodge; Double room with private bathroom.

DAY 4

PUTRE – GUALLATIRE – SURIRE SALT FLAT – POLLOQUERE HOT SPRINGS – ISLUGA NATIONAL PARK – CARIQUIMA

We’ll leave Putre in the morning and drive through the Las Vicuñas National Reserve, a vast landscape crowned by huge volcanoes and inhabited by vicugnas, suris, llamas and alpacas among many interesting birds. We’ll stop at the little village of Guallatire, to enjoy lunch at a small inn run by a local lady Mrs. Betty

The beautiful Surire salt flat with its many wild Vicugnas and flamingos are next on our route. On the southwestern shore of this salt flat there is a set of 100% natural hot springs, named “Polloquere”, you are welcome to take a bath; it’s free and usually without any people! (There are no facilities here) We’ll keep on driving through the altiplano, now crossing the Isluga National Park, with lots of Llamas, Alpacas, Guayatas and if we are lucky, some Suris (south american Ostridge).

Our long journey of today ends at the Aymara town of Cariquima… dinner is served, good night. 

Food: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner.

Accommodation: Cariquima rural hostal; double room with private bathroom.

DAY 5

CARIQUIMA – PANAVINTO CACTUS FOREST – HUAYTANE – CHULLUNCANE

We’ll leave this small town in the morning and go very close from the international border to visit the Chilean part of the Coipasa saltflat (north neighbor of Bolivia´s Uyuni salt flat) and go hike around a small forest of giant cacti (Echinopsis atacamensis) with most of them being over 6 meters high!. Lunch time is close and “doña Eulogia” and her husband are waiting for us at the little village of Huaytane; we’ll share and eat traditional Andean food, mainly consistent of quinoa, llama or alpaca meat, potatoes, faba beans and cactus fruit or seed juices. After lunch, we say goodbye to our new friends and drive crossing beautiful lands, streams and a small lake with lots of native birds, some of them migratory.

Our final stop of today is the remote village of Chulluncane, where “don Eugenio and his wife doña Gertrudis” are waiting for us. We’ll share stories, listen to local Andean legends and taste their food, we are to live the life of an Andean llama shepherd for a couple of days. 

Food: Breakfast, typical lunch, typical dinner.

Accommodation: Challapa family’s adobe cabin at Chulluncane; double room with outdoor bathroom shared only among travelers. Hot water shower available upon request (no charge).

DAY 6

BECOMING A LLAMAS SHEPHERD WITH THE AYMARA

This morning we have work to do… we’ll follow Eugenio and help him release the llama and alpaca herd (depending on the season, from 40 to +100 of them!) and we’ll direct them to the grazing area, the “bofedal”. On our way hiking with Eugenio (73) and his herd, we’ll learn from him about the way of life of the Aymaras, the way their ancestors got here, we’ll visit the ruins of the first settlements; from small caves to elaborated houses. We’ll learn about the traditions, celebrations and future of this interesting ethnic group.

Our lunch is served and we are hungry! After it, we can go and hike a bit around the Villablanca lake to witness it under the beautiful sunset light. Sleep tight.

Food: Breakfast, typical lunch, typical dinner.

Accommodation: Challapa family’s adobe cabin at Chulluncane; double room with outdoor bathroom shared only among travelers.

DAY 7

CHULLUNCANE – PICAVILQUE HIGH MOUNTAIN PASS – HUASCO SALT FLAT – SAND DUNES FIELD – PICA – LA HUAYCA

A good breakfast with the Challapa Family and off we go! This morning we’ll drive up to the +5,000m high Picavilque pass and get awesome views from above this vast underpopulated and beautiful territory. Our drive continues south crossing a perfect high road with almost no traffic.

We’ll reach the gorgeous Huasco salt flat where hundreds of flamingos breed, feed and nest. We start losing some altitude as we drive down to the Altos de Pica sand dune field; gorgeous dunes falling from the foothills to the absolute desert. You’ll experience -now in the reverse order- the transition from the altiplano landscape to the desert, only this time we’ll meet the Pica and Matilla Oasis, where lots of citrics, mangos, passion fruit and guavas grow!.

We end this day at a very special place; El Huarango, a desert eco lodge run by its owners and builders, a designer and a geologist. Dinner is served, outdoors, under the Tamarugo tree as it has to be in the desert.

Food: Breakfast, lunch, sun-cooked dinner.

Accommodation: El Huarango eco lodge; salt crust made double rooms with private bathroom.

DAY 8

LA HUAYCA – PAMPA DEL TAMARUGAL – CERRO PINTADOS – CHIU CHIU

This morning you’ll be able to appreciate much better the great place where you are, we’ll have a nice breakfast and share a moment with our local hosts; Coca and Marco.

Off we go again! This time we’ll have to drive across the desert on a long drive to Chiu Chiu, but before, we’ll visit the Cerro Pintados geoglyphs; the largest group of geoglyphs in South America.

Food: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Accommodation: Chiu Chiu rural hostel. Double room with private bathroom.

DAY 9

CHIU CHIU – HIERBAS BUENAS PETROGLYPHS – ARCOIRIS VALLEY – SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA – ASTRONOMY

From Chiu Chiu we start driving to the most famous and popular town in the Atacama Desert; San Pedro de Atacama, but before we have some interesting spot to visit; Hierbas buenas is the name of a location where many old petroglyphs can be visited to learn more about the local culture and way of life of the ancestors. Close from the petroglyphs, the Valle del arcoiris shows geological formations with their multiple mineral colors, creating a beautiful and surreal landscape worth of visiting.

San Pedro de Atacama is our destination of today and we expect to witness a dramatic contrast with the previous days, with lots of tourist from all over the world. Tonight, you’ll go on a group tour specialized in astronomy to the outskirts of town, run by a professional astronomer, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for get your celestial questions answered.

Food: Breakfast, Box lunch. Dinner is not included (there are many restaurants in town).

Accommodation: Quiet Atacameño style adobe cabin or lodge if not available. Double room with private bathroom.

DAY 10

SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA – VALLE DE LA LUNA – QUITOR – SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA

Let’s start with the highlights of San Pedro de Atacama surroundings; this morning you’ll meet the famous Moon Valley (Valle de la luna) here we’ll take short hikes and if available, we’ll get inside a salt cavern as well.

Back to town for lunch and some rest. Later in the evening, we’ll visit the Inca ruins of Quitor and hike up the hill to see another view of the “Cordillera de la sal”.

We suggest to go to sleep early tonight, tomorrow the activities start very early.

Food: Breakfast, lunch. Dinner is not included (there are many restaurants in town).

Accommodation: Quiet Atacameño style adobe cabin or lodge if not available. Double room with private bathroom.

DAY 11

SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA – CHAXA SALT LAKE – ATACAMA SALT FLAT – VALLE DE LA LUNA

Early morning, you’ll be picked by a group tour specialized in Tatio geyser field, another of the very popular places (and crowded) of this area but very interesting to visit though. Tatio is the largest geyser field of South America and the early morning visit allows the cold air (-4°C to -15°C in winter) to condensate the many columns of steam that come out from the geysers, creating a great and bizarre landscape.

Back in town for lunch and rest, we’ll get back on our vehicle to drive south to the Atacama salt flat and visit the Chaxa lake where many flamingoes feed.

We’ll keep on driving south to the small town of Socaire, where we’ll have dinner and stay for the night.

Food: Breakfast, lunch is not included (there are many restaurants in town). Dinner at Socaire is included.

Accommodation: Community based accommodation; double room with private bathroom.

DAY 12

SOCAIRE – LEJÍA LAKE – EL LACO – TUYAJTO LAKE – AGUAS CALIENTES SALT FLAT – SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA

Breakfast, box lunch. Dinner is not included (there are many restaurants in town)From Socaire we drive east to meet the beautiful Lejía lake and its surroundings, if the conditions allow we’ll take a montain dirt road towards El Laco (if conditions don’t allow, we’ll take the longer but safer paved road). This day is dedicated to beautiful mountain salt lakes; starting with Lejía, El Laco, Tuyajto y Aguas calientes, all of them surrounded by great and vast  landscape.

We’ll arrive at night back to San Pedro de Atacama.

Food: Breakfast, lunch is not included (there are many restaurants in town). Dinner at Socaire is included.

Accommodation: Quiet Atacameño style cabin or lodge if not available. Double room with private bathroom.

DAY 13

SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA – CHACABUCO – CALAMA

Today, we are going to change the scenery, we’ll say good bye to San Pedro de Atacama to learn about part of the human recent history of this part of Atacama; saltpeter (Nitrate) mining. From the city of Calama, we’ll drive a couple of hours to visit the ruins of the Baquedano train station and after, the mining town of Chacabuco; guarded by only one person and his beloved dogs, this ghost town has some stories to tell and you can enjoy walking through the empty streets and abandoned houses. Baquedano and Chacabuco were declared National Historical monuments.

Back to Calama from our journey back in time, we’ll enjoy our last dinner at a restaurant.

Food: Breakfast, box lunch, dinner.

Accommodation: 3 hotel, double room with private bathroom.

DAY 14

CALAMA – AIRPORT

Our last morning in the Atacama Desert. At proper time we’ll drive you to take your flight at the Calama airport.

Food: Breakfast.

Accommodation: Not included.

Conditions

Open

Cancellation Policy

If you decide to cancel your tour reservation, for any reason, the following are our terms:

Time frame / You receive:

  • 7 or more days before trip departure / 100% refund of what you have paid.
  • 6 to 3 days before trip departure / 50% of your payment.
  • 2 days before trip departure / 35% of your payment.
  • 1 day before trip departure / 15% of your payment.

The reasons to cancel a booked tour will be due to bad weather conditions, closed roads, government prohibitions or security reasons of any kind. If this is the case you will get a refund of 80% of what we received (please, remember that intermediates, banks, credit cards and transfers might apply commissions to what you’ve originally paid) and will be happy to offer you another options.

Refunds are done exclusively to Chilean bank accounts or to your PayPal/Payoneer account if you’ve paid using one of those methods.

Transfer Policy

If you would like to change to a different tour or departure date after signing up, we will be happy to transfer you on a space available basis up until 7 days prior to your tour. Please provide your transfer request in writing – email is sufficient. Please note, a US$20 transfer fee will be deducted from your previous payments for each transfer, and if you later choose to cancel your tour, the cancellation deadlines will apply to the date of the originally scheduled tour.

Tour Confirmation

Místico Outdoors will confirm your trip 7 days in advance and will be done via email.

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