ATACAMA DESERT – CHILE:

5 days, 4 nights.

Excellent option to visit Atacama desert in Chile from northern Argentina, going over and returning by two different roads across the Andes mountains: Jama and Sico pass

Day 1

We will start our trip in Salta city early in the morning. On this day, we will get to Chile on a paved road. When we get to Purmamarca in Jujuy province, we will take a road up known as Paso de Jama to cross The Andes; after a few hours we will cross Salinas Grandes, our famous salt flat in Jujuy, and then the little village of Susques where we can have lunch.
After that, we will keep driving to the west straight to the Chilean Border where we can find a Custom building of Argentina and we will stop there, be patient and fill in migration forms in order to cross the border in JAMA. If we are lucky, we will be ready in 1 hour to continue 150 kms more to get to San Pedro de Atacama where we will stop again at a Chilean custom building to do the same, and that maybe will take longer time because they will check all our luggage in search for only God knows, maybe fruits or vegetables because they are forbidden to be carried. Anyway, the road to cross The Andes is beautiful, awesome.
We will see salt flats, high lakes and huge snow caped volcanoes.
When we get to San Pedro de Atacama, we will go straightaway to our hotel to get some rest and then you can go on your own and have a dinner in one of the many restaurants on the main street named Caracoles.

Day 2

The day before was long, so we are not going to wake up early this day, do not worry. You can easily walk around the village on your own and visit the fantastic archaeological museum of San Pedro de Atacama and a beautiful old church made by adobe bricks and topped with cactus wooden roof.
At midday, you can have lunch on your own and then, at 2 PM we will go in a vehicle to visit interesting places: first, wi will drive through a small village named Toconao, located into an oasis of the desert (another strong contrast of green and desert) an then we will going into the Atacama Salt Flat to visit Chaxa lake.
There, we can see some lakes with flamingos in a frágil ecosystem surrounded by an amazing landscape where we can see every volcano of the Andes.
We will enjoy the avifauna where the flamingos star a spectacular flying show.
We will return to San Pedro de Atacama just before the sunset time, so we can watch the sun setting and the volcanoes in Mars Valley located near by San Pedro.
Then, we will be back again to the village where you can have a dinner in one of a pretty restaurantes, then to the hotel.

Day 3

It is time to wake up early if you want to see one of the highlights of this trip: the Geysers del Tatio. Yes, I will pick you up at 4:30 in the morning. Why? Because we must be there at sunrise time, 100 kms away from San Pedro and, you will see how busy the road up to the Geysers is because hundreds of regular excursions do the same every day and every year.
After watching this fantastic and spectacular natural show, we will return to San Pedro but first, we will stop at Machuca village where there is a traditional food to try called anticucho de llama, which means small lama meat brochettes, delicious!
Then, we will move on; and if you want, there is a nearby place with thermal springs that are very nice! If you happen to bring towels and a swimsuit, you can get into one of the pools in the creek to have a hot bath. The ticket entrance is managed by the local community and they charge u$ 20 per person.
Estimated time of arrival in San Pedro: 1:00 pm. You can take a rest until 5:00 PM when I will pick you up again to go to Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley), only 10 minutes drive from San Pedro, and see our last sunset in the desert.

Day 4

The day of the return to Argentina, as exciting as all the previous days, this time we will leave San Pedro at 8:00 AM Chilean time to make migrations and Chilean customs in the same town and begin the ascent to Paso de Sico.

We will pass through the Chilean towns of Toconao, where the Jerez ravine gives the green tone to the desert, and then Socaire, surrounded by terraces of ancient crops already high in the desert.

A few kilometers we will pass through two spectacular lagoons as hidden in a pot, are Miscanti and Meñiques that give us the opportunity to reconnect the main road and continue to the border point of Paso de Sico, in the Puna de Atacama past the Salar de Aguas Calientes (hot springs) and the high plateau lagoon of Tuyaito.

On the Argentine side, customs and immigration procedures await us again and from there, we travel for 3 hours up to 4,560 meters. in the Chorrillos pass and then arrive at the town of San Antonio de Los Cobres to stay at Hosteria de las Nubes.

Day 5

No need to leave early, around 09:30 hs. We can go to visit the famous Train to the Clouds bridge that is a few kilometers from the town, and from there return to San Antonio de Los Cobres and start the return to Salta through the Quebrada del Toro, which is the route of the original Tren a las Nubes (Train to the clouds). On the way we will stop for lunch at El Alfarcito, whose foundation has built a primary and secondary school, together with a visitor center to see handicrafts and taste regional foods made by the local community.

Estimated time of arrival in Salta: 03:00 PM

June to September it’s not recommendable because some years the snow block the roads over the mountains to cross borders

This trip has a scheduled departure with a fixed date.