San Pedro de Atacama – the highest desert in the world

Written by Nadine Zangerle on . Posted in Chile

On our way to San Pedro, Chile, we observed the spectacular scene. Luckily we decided to do the day trip from Salta to Chile and those nine hours on the bus where fantastic. We drove through canyons, went up to 4 900 m and the road went through some salt flats. In the mountains we could see Vicuñas grassing on the green-yellowish grass.

Finally we arrived in the dusty little town of San Pedro de Atacama which lies on 2 000 m. With the wind and automatically the sand in our eyes we tried to orientate and found the tourist information in the center. First of all we needed money since we had only Argentinian Peso in our pockets. Somehow each traveler seemed to have the same trouble at the ATM. Out-of-order or no money in the machine. Luckily we could change our Peso with some Germans traveling into Argentina, so with the just changed Euros we could get Chilean Peso.

We booked a room in the Backpacker Hostel for three nights which was the cheapest in town. Lucky we stay only a couple of days in Chile since US $20 per night per person was way overpriced for this hostel. But let’s check out the little town, which seemed to be extraordinary. Hungry and thirsty we finally bought some food for dinner and left the planning for the next morning.

After a little sleep (our hostel had a party) we showed our German organization skill since we decided with Will, whom we have met in the bus, to leave already the next morning. We wanted to see the salt flats but we didn’t wanted to miss out on the Valle de la Luna Tour in San Pedro. Since we booked the 4 pm tour we had to hurry up sending off a parcel to Germany and changing some money for Bolivia.

With 14 other tourists we hopped on a microbus and drove through the strange landscape. There is a reason why they call it Valley of the Moon. The different colors in those valleys we drove through – e.g. Valle de Marte, Valle de la Muerte und Tres Marias – where fascinating. Never have I thought of so many colors in a desert. We enjoyed the sunset which would have been better if we would have waited for another 10 minutes to see the color changes


Back in the hostel we prepared everything for our big adventure in the Bolivian desert. Three days off-road in a Jeep, we were really excited. Let’s go to bed since we want to be fit for this trip. At 7:45 am the adventure will begin.

Accommodation: Backpacker Hostel

Price: CH $ 9 000 p. p, 4 bed dorm, shared bathroom, two kitchens

Comment: In case you stay in a room in the backyard they sometimes play music at the bar till
                midnight. If you book a 4am tour this is no fun. Even with two kitchens there are not enough
               pots and pans when the hostel is full. Not the cleanest facilities, the room was small. Price
              value wasn’t really achieved.

Tour Operator: Layana – Tour: Valle de la Luna