Situated in the north of Chile, the Atacama is the driest, most desolate and arid desert in the world. The Andean Altiplano will surprise you with its dramatic and exotic beauty. Experience the desert on various open 4×4 excursions and explore the drastic geological transformations within the desert. The Atacama Desert boasts an incredible landscape of ragged, rock-strewn mountains and deep ravines interlaced by a striking white salt pan, surrounded by towering volcanoes. An array of flora and fauna have adapted to these extreme conditions, such as graceful llamas, camelid guanacos and vicuñas, lush fur foxes, rigid-eared viscachas, emu-like rheas, and rough lizards.
Embark on a three hour history tour that passes through the Quitor Pukara, an Atacama fortress dating back to 1,000 AD. After ascending the ruins, marvel at the view of the Andes Mountains and surrounds. The drive continues to the town of Tulor, one of the primary settlements in the Atacama Desert, where travellers will visit the ruins’ excavation site and the reconstruction of its original homes. The tour ends with an optional visit to an archaeological museum.
The half-day outing to Toconao and the Atacama Salt Flats begins with a sojourn at the town of Toconao, renowned for its structures fashioned out of volcanic stone. Visit the town’s church and craft market in the main square, before heading to the nearby Jere creek. Afterwards, visit Chaxa Pond, which is a National Reserve in the Atacama Salt Flat, where you can observe flamingos and other native bird species while enjoying views of the surrounding mountain range. Gaze at the elegant frame of the flamingo wading through shallow waters with an ever changing pastel-hued sky in the backdrop. After photographing the blush and titian horizon, toast the disappearing sun with a private sundowner at the edge of the salt flats.
The full-day adventure heads towards Bolivia and Argentina, where you will discover two impressive volcanoes; the Licancabur Volcano and Juriques Volcano. Continuing on, you will drive through the altiplano where you will have the opportunity to view vicuñas and flamingos before reaching the extraordinary rock formations of Pakana Monk. Following a trail, off the paved road, you will arrive at enormous rock cliffs that surround the Tara Salt Flat, where you will have lunch while enjoying a striking view of Lake Tara and its surroundings.
The last full day expedition travels to the Tatio Geyser. Departing at dawn, travellers will arrive at the Geothermic Camp of Tatio. Here, underground springs spray out steam and hot water in intermittent spurts. Tuck into a mouth-watering breakfast while watching the sun rise, observing the landscape and its fumaroles, awash with arctic blue and chiffon lined skies. Afterwards, visit the town of Machuca or stop at the Puritama hot springs for a relaxing dip in naturally heated volcanic pools.