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Close to people's heart

Eco – Atacama

Chile - Budget – Self-guided tour – 11 days / 10 nights

• 4 days driving with your own vehicle across the Chilean Altiplano ;
• Tatio Geysers and sunset over the Moon Valley ;
• The oasis of San Pedro de Atacama ;
• Las Vicuñas and Los Flamencos Natural Reserves.

Nature : box black box black box black box black box black -  Culture : box black box black box black box withe box withe

Encounters : box black box black box black box withe box withe


Starting from $ 1759 USD*


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The Eco- Atacama circuit was conceived for nature lovers wishing to discover the most beautiful landscapes of northern Chile on a budget. As you cross the driest desert on the planet, you will uncover the endemic fauna of the Chilean Altiplano (highlands), explore the most emblematic salt lakes of the country and enjoy the most breath-taking scenery of the Atacama Desert. Off the beaten track, you will experience the immensity of the Andean plains while getting in contact with the Aymara indigenous community, exchanging with the locals or simply enjoying a little paradise at your own pace, surrounded by salt flats, lagoons with pink flamingos, thermal waters and volcanoes  


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Arrival by international flight
Arrive in Santiago by international flight. You are met at the airport by our driver and transferred to your hotel. Wander around the capital city soaking up the atmosphere or visit some interesting sites: Bellavista, a bohemian neighbourhood, Plaza de Armas and its colonial architecture and Cerro Santa Lucia with its scenic view over the city and the Andes. Take advantage of this free day in the city before heading to the great outdoors and deserts of the north of Chile !
  • Transport : private transfer - 45min
  • Accommodation: Aparthotel
  • Included meals: none
Day 2 – ARICA
Flight Santiago de Chile >  Arica
Transfer to the airport in the late morning. After a 4 hour flight you will land in Arica, a small town in Chile's far north region. Time to settle in your hotel, the rest of the day is yours to go for a walk on the beach, possibly swim in the sea and enjoy some seafood in one of the many local restaurants.
  • Transport : private transfer - 45min
  • Accommodation: hotel
  • Included meals: none
Day 3 – ARICA - PUTRE - SURIPLAZA (3500m high)
Rental car
Your rental vehicle will be waiting for you at your hotel at 9am. Ascend 3500 m above sea level in just 155 km to conquer the majesty of the Cordillera of the Andes. The views of dessert hills extend for miles inland as you climb steeply into the high plateau. Drive through the valleys of Azapa and Lluta, with a chance to observe the candelabra cactus, a tall cactus tree. Recommended stops are the Pukara de Copaquilla (fortress) and the small and picturesque village of Socoroma, both from the pre-Inca period. Finally reach Putre, a beautiful town at the foothills of the Andes. Take some time to acclimatize to the altitude. In the afternoon, we recommend you to explore the enigmatic desert of Suriplaza and its multi-coloured mountains. Only two hours from Putre this journey will take you through sulphur volcanoes and sand dunes.
  • Transport : rental vehicle – 155km - 3h – to Suriplaza : 4h – 125km
  • Accommodation: bungalow
  • Included meals: breakfast
Day 4 – PUTRE – PARINACOTA - CHUNGARA (3500m high)
Rental car
Visit the Lauca National Park. On your way to Lake Chungara you will cross the humid lowlands of Chucuyo and walk along the Cotacotani Lagoon, surrounded by wetlands and soaring peaks like the volcanoes of Parinacota and Pomerape. We recommend you a visit to the small village of Parinacota (4500 m high) of archaeological and historical interest. To finish the day, guests can go for a swim in the hot springs of Jurasi. Overnight in Putre.
  • Transport : rental car – 124km - 3h.
  • Accommodation: bungalow
  • Included meals: breakfast
  • Entrance to the thermal baths not included (3000 pesos/p.p.)
Day 5 – PUTRE - COLCHANE (3695m high)
Rental car
Early departure for the National Reserve Las Vicuñas. This natural ecosystem preserves high-altitude wildlife, including vicunas, chinchillas, rheas and condors. Continue on the trail to the Salar de Surire at 4245 m altitude, where you can observe a great variety of flamingos, llamas, vicunas and alpacas overlooked by volcanoes.
We invite you to picnic at the thermal baths of Polloquere before continuing on the road to Isluga Park through the beautiful village Isluga, one of the many ceremonial villages lived in only a few months a year. Arrive in Colchane in the late afternoon.
  • Transport : rental car – 240km - 6h.
  • Accommodation: family-run hotel
  • Included meals: breakfast
Day 6 – COLCHANE – IQUIQUE (sea level)
Rental car
Cross the immensity of the Atacama Desert to finally return to the ocean. With its 86 meters, the Atacama Giant is one of the largest geoglyphs in the world. Experts estimate that the giant dates from around 900 AD. We also recommend visiting the ghost town of Humberstone, a former saltpeter mining town. Arrive in Iquique in the late afternoon to return your vehicle. Night bus to San Pedro de Atacama will leave around 11:30pm with connection and possible change of bus in Calama.
  • Transport : rental car – 205km - 3h.
  • Accommodation: overnight bus
  • Included meals: breakfast
  • Entrance to Humberstone not included
Day 7 – MOON VALLEY (2400m high)
Arrive in San Pedro around 9am. The morning is yours to relax, explore the village or visit the archaeological museum Le Paige. In the afternoon head for the Valley of the Moon. An opportunity to admire this lunar-like landscape at sunset when the craggy rocks are set aflame. This salt-cordillera is an exceptional geological formation resulting from the folding of the edges of the salar due to the plate tectonic motions. Back in San Pedro around 8pm.  
  • Transport : van -  1h
  • Accommodation: family-run hotel
  • Included meals: none
  • Entrance to the museum Le Paige and Moon Valley not included
Day 8 – TATIO GEYSER (2400m high)
Early departure to reach the Geysers of Tatio before sunrise. An impressive show will then gradually unfold, the temperature of the air will fall, and the water vapour will start spurting out several meters above the ground. Return to San Pedro de Atacama and pass through the small village of Machuca where you will appreciate the traditional architecture of a high altitude village, together with its fauna and flora. Return to San Pedro de Atacama early in the afternoon.
  • Transport : van -  6h
  • Accommodation: family-run hotel
  • Included meals: breakfast
  • Entrance to the Tatio not included
Day 9 – SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA (2400m high)
Free day to rest or take an excursion of your choice.
Recommended excursions :
Altiplanic Lagoons :  Explore the beautiful lagoons of Miscanti and Miñiques, part of the Los Flamencos National Reserve. Located at an elevation of 4200 m above sea level, these lagoons sit at the base of the two volcanos and were separated from each other by a lava flow from an eruption. You will be able to admire the stunning views of this breeding ground for flamingos - aprox. 60 $/p.p. 
Volcano Lascar (5592m): A 2.30h drive to arrive at the foot of the volcano followed by a 3 to 5 hour climb to the crater of the volcano, the most active in the northern Chilean Andes  - 180 $/p.p.
  • Accommodation: family-run hotel
  • Included meals: breakfast
Flight Calama > Santiago de Chile
Depart early in the afternoon to Calama airport. A minivan will pick you up at the hotel to take you directly to the airport where you take your flight to Santiago; arrive late in the afternoon.
  • Transport : van - 2h +  private transfer -  45min
  • Accommodation: hotel
  • Included meals: breakfast
Departure by international flight
Your driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the airport 3 hours before the departure of your flight.  
  • Transport : private transfer - 45min
  • Included meals: breakfast
End of your adventure in the north of Chile…

This program is only given as an indication. TransHumans reserves the right, directly or through its local partners, to replace transportation, accommodation, itinerary, as well as dates and departure times, without the participants being able to claim any compensation.

Dates and Prices

PRICE 2016 (in £ per person): $ 1759 USD*/p.p.

*Price based on 2 participants IN LOW SEASON 

The price includes:

  • Domestic flights : Santiago > Arica ; Calama > Santiago ;
  • Ground transfers as mentioned in the program ;
  • 9 nights in simple but clean and comfortable accommodation ;
  • 1 overnight cama class long distance bus ride ;
  • 1 rental car like Chevrolet Classic for 4 days ;
  • Excursion to Tatio Geysers ;
  • Excursion to Moon Valley ;
  • All the meals mentioned in the program ;
  • A road book with all the information necessary for the smooth running of your stay ;
  • A mobile phone to contacts us 24/7.

The price does not include:

  • International flights ;
  • Fuel for rental car ;
  • Entrances to the parks, natural reserves and museums  ;
  • Drinks and personal expenses ;
  • The comprehensive insurance and repatriation assistance.

... and more generally all that is not mentioned in « the price includes » section.

Some important facts

  • National flights are included ;
  • Transfers to/from airport/hotel/airport are included ;
  • Accommodation is included and selected based on quality and hygiene ;
  • Local partners are fairly compensated ;
  • 3% of the price of your trip goes directly to support a local educational project for cultural and environmental development.

Practical Information


Accompanying English and Spanish speaking guides
The day of your arrival, you will be received by an English speaking member of our staff. He/she will hand you a road book and a mobile phone, allowing you to be in contact with us 24/7 if needed. If specified in your program, he/she will also accompany you around the capital, giving you the basic practical information about the country or countries you are visiting.
During excursions, you will be accompanied by a local Spanish speaking guide, often also speaking English.

When to travel to the North of Chile 
This area is dominated by deserts and the Altiplano, with an arid climate, dry and hot during the day and very cold at night. The weather is nice all year round, with high temperatures in January and February in the Chilean Atacama. In October and November, the snow is not excluded at 4000 m or higher. Daytime temperatures normally range from 15°C to 20°C throughout the year.
Nights and mornings are fresher and very cold if you ascend in altitude (temperatures can reach -15°C at 3500m from June to November).

Local Transportation
Travelling by bus is the most popular and cheapest way to discover the country. Classes range from Semi-Cama to Cama Suite with wider seats which are reclining to a horizontal position almost like being in bed. Distances are long and it takes nearly 24 hour bus ride from San Pedro de Atacama to Santiago. Bus lines connect major cities together. The buses run at an average speed of 80 km/h. For long distances, the plane remains the most convenient mean of transportation.
NOTE : TransHumans offers the option of booking for you the international flight ticket; we will seek and book for you the best deals. Price may vary depending on the time of purchase but can vary between $1000 and $1600.

PASSPORT & VISA : A valid passport is sufficient for most European and US citizens; a tourist visa will be issued at entry to the territory. If the stay exceeds the three months, it will be necessary to apply for a visa at the Embassy in your country. Contact your local embassy, or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements. IT'S YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO HAVE THE CORRECT TRAVEL DOCUMENTATION.
REMINDER : Make copies of all your important documents (passport, flight tickets, insurance, and credit card). Leave one copy of each at home and pack one with you.



Clothing : 
Given the great variation in temperature between day and night it is necessary to pack both light and warm clothes.  Wearing layers of clothes can be a good idea to easily adapt to the weather conditions. Typical layers include: t-shirt, sweater, fleece, wind/water proof layer. We highly recommend lightweight, quick-drying technical clothing.
Remember to take hat, gloves and scarf, cap and sunglasses (minimum lens category 3)!

-Toiletry bag (biodegradable products are preferred) 
-Small quick-drying towel 
-Sunscreen lotion
-Insect repellent DEET (+ 40% for good protection). Also useful against fleas which can be a nuisance for people with sensitive skin.
-Head torch (with spare batteries and bulbs) 
-Bottle and/or camel bag  
-Pocket knife (checked luggage) 
-Money belt or pouch to safely store your passport, currency, credit cards, personal papers, insurance papers. 
-A copy of your passport. 
-Power sockets in Chile are those commonly find in Europe type C and Italy type L; Voltage: 220 V.
Medical Kit : 
-Antidiarrheal medication (i.e.Smecta and Imodium)
-Plasters, sterile dressings and antiseptics 
-Medicine for pain or fever (such as acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen) 
-Elastic adhesive bandage 
-Anti-inflammatory ointment or cream
-Water purification tablets 
NOTE : Most of these products are also available in local pharmacies.

Luggage : Please arrange your belongings in two bags : 
-Small backpack (capacity 25/40 litres).This is your hand luggage you will take with you on the plane as well as every day during hikes, excursions and transfers. 
-Large waterproof backpack to check-in (capacity 60 to 90 litres). 
-Large plastic bag to protect from moisture your belongings in your backpacks.

The country does not present any health risks, and the water is potable almost everywhere. No vaccine is mandatory for Chile, but some are recommended:
-Hepatitis B
For children and those born before 1980: measles, mumps - rubella.

Other risks

Try to avoid contact with insects. Fleas tend to be a nuisance for sensitive skin. Regular insect repellent is also effective against fleas.
Altitude sickness 
Altitude sickness is due to a rapid ascent to higher altitudes and the decreasing level of oxygen available at those altitudes. The symptoms include shortness of breath, irritating dry cough, severe headache, nausea and exhaustion. The first solution is to descend to a lower altitude (at least 500 m).
Proper acclimatization of the body to increasing altitudes is the best way to prevent altitude sickness. Once above 3000 meters it is wise not to increase the altitude at which you sleep by more than 500 meters. Stop a day if the altitude increases by 1000 meters in a day, keep hydrated and avoid drinking alcohol and smoking.
The best way to acclimatize to the altitude is to climb gradually. Given enough time, your body will adapt to the decrease in oxygen at a specific altitude.

Medical Assistance
Medical care is excellent in most tourist areas in Chile. For more remote areas, in case of urgent medical assistance, contact your Embassy in Santiago de Chile. We highly recommend you to contact your insurance as soon as possible.


The Atacama People (Atacameños) - Atacama Desert - Chile
They are descendants of the early settlers of this region. Heavily influenced by the Aymara and Quechua cultures (southern Andean altiplano), they render tribute to the Pachamama (Mother Earth), they celebrate every year during the month of August with offerings and religious ceremonies. Cultural exchange can generally be difficult at first, since the Atacameños can be suspicious. Yet, gradually, they will gain confidence. At least this is our experience. Opening to them, patience and humility are key for successful exchanges with them. “Indigeno” is not derogatory to the Mapuche, quite the contrary; while “Indio” is, so do not use it when speaking to people of the altiplano or when referring to them.

Responsible Tourism


Our Vision & Commitment

Cultural awareness is very important to us. Sensible to the local cultural traditions and beliefs, the beauty of the landscapes and the biodiversity of the ecosystems, we choose to limit the negative impact of our activities on the local environment. In addition to designing trips that aim at preserving the natural, cultural and social resources of the territories in the long term, we also include the concept of “Territorial Compensation”. The idea of Territorial Compensation is to help local people protect and conserve their ecosystem, enhance their cultural heritage and develop sustainable projects for their territory.

Based on this concept of Territorial Compensation, TransHumans donates 3% of the total price of each trip to this cause. The money goes directly into a solidarity fund that finances our ERECA program (Education Relative à l'Environnement et aux Cultures Aborigènes), an environmental and cultural program. Since 2007, we have supported various projects aimed at training and awareness-raising for the local communities.

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