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Close to people's heart

Atacama Desert, between the Andes and the Pacific

Chile/Bolivia - Discovery– Self-guided tour – 17 days / 16 nights

• Tatio geysers and sunset over the Moon Valley ;
• The fauna of the National Reserves of Las Vicunas and Los Flamencos;
• 7 days travelling with your vehicle along the Chileans Altiplano to the Pacific coast ;
• Pisagua, a small fishing village on the Pacific.

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

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


Starting from $ 2210 USD*


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Travel from Chile to Bolivia, ascending from 0 to 4900m above sea level, moving through a varied landscape including colourful minerals, geysers, salt lakes, deserts, volcanoes, thermal baths, fertile valleys and white sandy beaches. Discover the wonders of the Salt Lake of Uyuni, the magic of the world’s driest desert and visit the main archaeological sites of San Pedro de Atacama (geoglyphs, mummies, petroglyphs and pukaras). A trip providing intense emotions, incredible landscapes and encounters with flamingos, vicunas, llamas, alpacas, chinchillas, condors, sea lions and pelicans. In complete freedom and at your own pace, you will visit stunning national parks and meet local people.

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Arrival by international flight
On your arrival in Santiago, our driver picks you up at the airport and drives you to your hotel in Valparaiso. This city is a harbour open to the ocean and surrounded by twelve hills upon which many colourful houses have flourished. You will visit the Cerro Alegre area, acknowledged World Heritage Site (UNESCO). This open sky museum will take you to discover narrow streets filled with frescoes painted by the artists of the city.

  • Transport : private transfer - 1h45
  • Accommodation: Bed & breakfast
  • Included meals: none

Flight Santiago de Chile 4:20pm > Calama 6:30pm
Free morning in Valparaiso. Private transfer to the airport to catch a flight to Calama at midday. On arrival in Calama, transfer by van to your hotel in San Pedro de Atacama where you arrive in the late afternoon.

  • Transport : private transfer - 1h45 + flight + van 2h
  • Accommodation: hotel
  • Included meals: none

Day 03 – GEYSERS & MOON VALLEY (2400m high)
Early departure to reach the Tatio Geysers 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 can 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. Later explore the Moon Valley and its salt caves, the Death Valley and « Las Tres Marias ». Sunset on the salt mountain range before heading back to your hotel.

  • Transport : van - 6h
  • Accommodation: hotel
  • Included meals: breakfast
  • Entrance to the sites not included

Day 04 – ALTIPLANIC LAGOONS (2400m high)
Explore the beautiful lagoons of « Miniques and Miscanti » part of the Los Flamencos National Reserve. Located at an elevation of 4200m 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. Admire the stunning views of this breeding ground for flamingos.

  • Transport : van - 5h
  • Accommodation: hotel
  • Included meals: breakfast

Day 05 – SUD LIPEZ – BOLIVIA (3750m high)
Depart for the south of Bolivia at around 8am. Discover the Lipez area with its vast territory of mountains and rock formations sculpted by the wind, with beautiful lakes, lagoons with improbable colours, volcanoes and multi-coloured deserts. Travel at 4000m by 4x4 with 4 other passengers. Cross the border and you arrive at the foot of volcano Licancabur with white and green lagoons, then cross the Dali Desert (named after the scenery reminiscent of one of his paintings) and admire the geysers Sol de Mañana, a geothermal field at an altitude of over 4300 m from which sulphurous fumes escape in the morning light,. By mid-afternoon, you will reach the Laguna Colorada populated by flocks of flamingos that come to feed and breed, wrapped in solitude and silence. Lodging in refuge (basic comfort).

  • Transport : van - 2h + 4x4 - 4h
  • Accommodation: refuge (basic comfort)
  • Included meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 06 – UYUNI – BOLIVIA (3500m high)
On the « Road of the Jewels » you will appreciate the impressive valley of rocks sculpted by the wind. The dirty road follows on through the beautiful high altitude scenery of the Siloli desert with black, yellow and green lagoons, before arriving at the stunning Salar of Uyuni. Tonight’s accommodation is unique: stay in a double room in the salt hotel in the village of San Juan.

  • Transport : 4x4 - 6-7h
  • Accommodation: hotel
  • Included meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 07 – UYUNI – BOLIVIA (3500m high)
A dramatic drive through the stunning scenery of the Salar de Uyuni, takes you to the heart of the Salar on Fish Island and Inca Huasi. Of volcanic origin, covered with stromatolites and giant cacti, the island was a refuge for Incas. On the way you will visit the salt exploitation of Colchani. Leaving the bright light of the salar behind you finally arrive at Uyuni where you will enjoy a two hour break before returning to San Pedro de Atacama. Night in Villa Mar refuge.

  • Transport : 4x4 - 6-7h
  • Accommodation: refuge
  • Included meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 08 – BACK TO SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA  (2400m high)
Very early departure to make your way back to the Bolivian border; you are scheduled to arrive at the Chilean border around 10am. Arrival back to San Pedro de Atacama scheduled at around 1pm.

  • Transport : 4x4 - 6-7h
  • Accommodation: hotel
  • Included meals: breakfast

Day 09 – CALAMA – IQUIQUE (sea level)
Bus Calama 4pm > 9:45pm Iquique
Take a free morning to relax, walk the charming streets of this village or visit the archaeological museum Le Paige. This will provide you with an insight into the customs and traditions of pre-Hispanic cultures. Take your bus to Iquique where you arrive in the late afternoon.

  • Transport : Bus - 7h30
  • Accommodation: hotel
  • Included meals: breakfast

Day 10 – IQUIQUE – HUMBERSTONE – COLCHANE (3695m high)
Rental car
Receive your rental car in the morning and drive towards the Andes. On the way you will pass the deserted saltpeter mining towns of Humberstone and Santa Laura. Built in the heart of the desert, these are now ghost towns turned into wonderful museums with the remains of fascinating lost communities. 
In Huara take a look at the Atacama Giant. With almost 90 meters, the Giant is one of the largest geoglyphs in the world. Experts estimate that the giant dates from around 900 AD. 
At the end of an almost 4000m ascent, close to the Bolivian border, you will find a town called Colchane, full of Aymara culture. 

  • Transport : rental car 236 km - 3h
  • Accommodation: family-run hotel
  • Included meals: breakfast

Day 11 – COLCHANE - PUTRE (3500m high) 
Rental car
Leave Colchane in the early morning for the National Park Isluga; visit the Altiplanic commune of Isluga, another excellent example of Aymara culture. The trip continues reaching the salt lake Surire at 4250 m above sea level. The intense white colour of salt deposits contrasts with the pure blue of the water of the lagoons, a real delight to your eyes. The salt lake of Surire also preserves the existence of valuable species such as ostrich (ñandu), flamingo, vicuña, alpaca, llama, condors…
Arrive at Putre in the evening.

  • Transport : rental car – 266km - 6h
  • Accommodation: bungalow
  • Included meals: breakfast

Day 12 –PARINACOTA – CHUNGARA - PUTRE (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 (4500m 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 hot springs not included (3000 pesos/p.p.)

Day 13 – PUTRE – ARICA (sea level)
Rental car
Drive to Arica, a small town in Chile's far north region. The Chilean port of Arica sits on the Pacific rim of the Atacama Desert, near the border with Peru. 
Recommended stops are the Pukara of Copaquilla (fortress), the small and picturesque village of Socoroma, both from the pre-Inca period, and the Archaeological Museum of San Miguel de Azapa. 
The afternoon is yours to stroll on the beach, possibly swim and enjoy some seafood in one of the many local restaurants.

  • Transport : rental car – 155km - 2h
  • Accommodation: hotel
  • Included meals: breakfast

Rental car
Head towards the small village of Pisagua. Built on the pacific coast, this small fishing village has a long history and a particular atmosphere. Between Arica and Pisagua, we recommend you a stop in Caleta Camarones, a tiny fishing village with a white sand beach opening to the Pacific. Once in Pisagua, we recommend that you leave on foot along the Pacific coast to reach the seal colonies.

  • Transport : rental car – 230km - 3h
  • Accommodation: bed & breakfast
  • Included meals: breakfast

Rental car
Leave early in the morning to enjoy a trip on a fishing boat and discover the local marine wildlife: seals, pelicans, vultures and according to the season, also wales and dolphins if you are lucky. Return to the village for lunch and then visit the old cemetery of Pisagua. This is a sobering site facing the Pacific Ocean, where wind and sand are the only companions…

  • Transport : rental car – 10km - 20min
  • Accommodation: hotel
  • Included meals: breakfast

Flight Iquique 10:20am > 12:35 Santiago de Chile
Rental car
Leave in the morning to Iquique airport to take your flight to Santiago where you are schedule to arrive at midday. Once in Santiago, a driver will take you 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.

  • Transport : rental car – 180km - 2h
  • Accommodation: hotel
  • Included meals: breakfast

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 transport - 45min
  • Included meals: none

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): $ 2210 USD*/p.p

*price based on 2 participants in low season

The price includes:

  • Domestic flights : Santiago > Calama ; Iquique > Santiago ;
  • Ground transfers as mentioned in the program ;
  • 16 nights in accommodation - double room (not available in the refuges) ;
  • Excursion to Tatio Geysers ;
  • Excursion to Moon Valley ;
  • Excursion to Altiplanic Lagoons ;
  • A 4 day excursion to the Bolivian altiplano ;
  • One rental car for 7 days ;
  • All the meals mentioned in the programme ;
  • A road book with all the information necessary for the smooth running of your stay ;
  • A mobile phone to contact us 24/7.

The price does not include:

  • International flights;
  • Entrance to the parks (about 60 USD/p.p);
  • Single occupancy supplement : USD 315 ( no single room available in the refuge and host family);
  • Drinks and personal expenses;
  • The comprehensive insurance and repatriation assistance.

... and more generally all that is not mentioned in the « 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 speaking and Spanigh speaking guide
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.

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).
NOTE : TransHumans offers you the option of booking your international ticket; we will search and book for you the best deals. Price may vary depending on the time of purchase but cost normally between $1000 and $1600 insurance included. 

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 hours bus ride from Santiago to San Pedro de Atacama. 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.

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 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 health 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
These 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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