Atacama Desert - Cultural and Astronomic Journey

from £1138 4 nights | Year round Exc. flights See price details
  • Departs:
  • Year round


This 5 day tour of the Atacama Desert features private daily excursions to the region’s most beautiful landscapes and most important archaeological locations.

While still ticking off well known wonders such as the El Tatio Geyser Field and the ‘Valley of the Moon’, you will also explore lesser known attractions and immerse yourself in the culture and history of the area with visits to ancient villages and mysterious petroglyph covered sites.


  • Watch in awe as the sun sets over the ‘Valley of the Moon’
  • Visit the gushing geysers of El Tatio
  • Examine the ancient petroglyphs of Yerbas Buenas
  • Stop at an early Atacaman village, dating back to 800 BC
  • Explore pre-Incan ruins
  • Take a guided look up at sensational star filled night skies

The flexible nature of the itinerary means you can pick and choose your daily activities to suit your preferences and time available.

Contact our Chile experts now

Itinerary & Accommodation

Day 1: Atacama arrival & Moon Valley
Upon arrival at Calama Airport, transfer to San Pedro de Atacama, passing the impressive rock formations of the Cordillera de la Sal (Salt Mountains).

After lunch (not included) head to the vast desert ripples of Death, Mars and Moon Valleys, strange alien landscapes which take their name from the superficial similarities to our celestial neighbours and their inhospitable surfaces. Here take moderate hikes along narrow trails through dried up riverbeds with beautiful rocks, grottos and caverns.

Witness one of the world's most stunning sunsets as Moon Valley plunges into darkness, a spectacle enhanced by the warm colours of the sand dunes stretching out on the horizon.
Day 2: Yerbas Buenas petroglyphs & Rainbow Valley
Visit the archaeological site of Yerbas Buenas, home to ancient petroglyphs which are thought to date back as far as 10,000 years. There are over a thousand rock carvings in this one location, each capturing a person, a view, a thought or a creature - frozen in time for future generations to admire.

Later you will head to the Valle del Arcoiris (Rainbow Valley). This aptly named gorge’s mineral-rich rocks glimmer in shades of green, blue and red across the cliffs and hillsides.

The last phase of the tour leads to the small village of Rio Grande where the inhabitants live off the land and their homes have been built with straw and mud roofs, with cacti and carob beams.
Day 3: Archaeological sites and astronomy tour
Take a fascinating morning walk in Tulor, an ancient village dating back to 800BC. The area is not usually frequented by tourists so you will be able to gain a more genuine insight into the culture and way of life of the locals. There is a small museum which you can visit which houses some artefacts from various periods throughout the settlement’s history. The small entry fee is not included, but all proceeds go towards the people of the village.

Next comes a visit to Pukara de Quitor, a pre-Incan fortress built by settlers over 700 years ago to defend themselves against other South American communities.

The excursion will end with a visit to the adobe church of San Pedro’s central square. Its original incarnation, built in the 16th century, was the focal point around which the village gradually grew into the important tourist hub it is today.

You will arrive back at your hotel early in the afternoon, before heading out again in the evening for an astronomy tour of the night’s sky. Enjoy a detailed talk about the planets and constellations, with guidance on how to identify them with the naked eye. If conditions are right, there may also be an option to make observations and take photos through high-powered telescopes.
Day 4: El Tatio Geysers, Pozon Rustico and Machuca
Rise early today to enjoy the sunrise at El Tatio, where the bubbling pools and geysers are at their most mysterious and spectacular before the sun can burn away the morning mist.

Then visit “Pozon Rustico” to bathe in the relaxing geothermal waters emanating from the strong volcanic activity beneath the earth.

On the way back to San Pedro, enjoy magnificent views of the Tocopurri and Sairecabur volcanoes which dominate the landscape and make a stop in Machuca, a picturesque shepherd’s hamlet located at an altitude of 4,000 metres above sea level. Learn about local life high in the Andes, in both the modern and ancient world.

Arrive back in San Pedro in time for lunch then spend the afternoon at leisure, catching up on sleep, taking part in an additional optional excursion or seeing the sights of this small but historic settlement.
Goodbye Atacama!
Spend the morning relaxing or browsing the handicraft shops and sightseeing at the church and museum. In the afternoon transfer back to Calama Airport and fly back to Santiago to continue your adventure.

Please note: This itinerary is a guideline only and is formed of a number of different (mostly) private excursions. The schedule of activities may differ depending on availability and all options can be substituted, eliminated or added to (at time of booking), according to your preference. Alternative seat in coach (SIC) group excursions may also be available if preferred - ask our team of specialists for details.

Museums throughout Chile are generally closed on Mondays and many tourist establishments may be shut or fully booked during National Holidays. Therefore please inform us of any key elements of your trip that hold particular importance to you, even if they are not being pre-booked, so that we can tailor your itinerary accordingly.

Accommodation Options

Hotel Kimal - Atacama

  • Grade: Standard
  • Type: Hotel

Located in the historic centre of San Pedro de Atacama, …

Casa Atacama Hotel

  • Grade: Standard
  • Type: Hotel

The Casa Atacama Hotel, located close to the centre of t…

Tierra Atacama Hotel - San Pedro de Atacama

  • Grade: Superior
  • Type: Hotel

Tierra Atacama is a high quality boutique hotel located …

Altiplanico Atacama Hotel (Atacama, Chile)

  • Grade:
  • Type: Hotel

Tucked away on a gentle stretch of land in the o…

Hotel La Casa Don Tomas (Atacama - Chile)

  • Grade:
  • Type: Hotel



In addition to those listed, a large variety of alternative accommodation options are available for this holiday. Please contact us for further details.



It is possible to pre-book a variety of excursions to supplement this holiday. While we highlight a range of these within the itinerary and/or on the excursions tab, there are often many more that can be selected. Contact our team of specialists for full details.

Cycling in the Atacama

Choose from a range of adaptable cycling options to best su…

Full Day Overland Safari to Monturaki Meteorite Crater – 4x4

A 4x4 adventure to one of the world's best preserved impact…

Full Day Tour to Tatio Geysers and Machuca Village

Enjoy a guided tour of El Tatio and the nearby village of M…

Half Day Archaeological Excursion to Quitor and Tulor - Atacama

An escorted tour to some of the Atacama's most historic sit…

Half Day Excursion to Cejar Lagoon

Take a journey to the Cejar Lagoon, the Atacama's very own …

Half Day Excursion to Moon Valley - Atacama

A guided tour to watch the sunset over the alien landscapes…

Half Day Excursion to Salt Flats and Toconao - Atacama

Enjoy a guided excursion of the Atacama Salt Flats, Toconao…

Hiking in the Atacama

An assortment of adaptable hiking options in the Atacama

Petroglyphs, Rainbow Valley and Rio Grande

A guided visit to the petroglyph site of Yerbas Buenas, Rai…

Prices & Dates

2018 prices and dates

Price from £1,138 per person, based on twin-share accommodation.

Departs daily, year round

Prices Include: 4 nights bed and breakfast accommodation at Le Casa de Don Tomas • Private return transfers between airport and hotel • Private excursions as listed in itinerary (with the exception of the astronomy tour which is a standard group excursion that may include other passengers) • Box lunch on day 2 • Breakfast on El Tatio excursion • English speaking guide during excursions • Entrance fees to national reserves and indigenous communities visited during excursions

Prices Exclude: All airfares - we would be happy to assist with booking these • Additional airport or airline security charges • Passport and visa expenses (we will be pleased to advise you on any necessary documentation, however this is passengers' own responsibility) • Government arrival and departure taxes • Any accommodation/meals/drinks/land arrangements not mentioned in inclusions (if required) • Entrance fee for museum in Tulor on day 3 • Excess baggage charges • Telecommunication charges, laundry costs and other charges of a personal nature • The discretionary gratuity at the end of excursions for guides and staff • Travel insurance

How to book

Book this trip

So that we may send you a personalised quote and confirmation of availability, please click on the link below and complete our Enquiry form. One of our Travel Specialists will then be in touch to complete your booking or answer any further questions you might have.

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Speak to a specialist: 1-844-584-0668

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