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Atacama adventuresThings to do in San Pedro Atacama   intrepid idependent adventure travel. Globemad Pete

 Things to do in San Pedro Atacama

Exploring this stunning, remote, arid climate complete with its rugged and complex geology, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you had been dumped on another planet. If you are staying in San Pedro de Atacama adventure is truly on your door step. Here are a few ideas to wet your appetite for adventure… Things to do in San Pedro Atacama

 

Renting a bike and a sand board and visit the aptly named Death Valley

The start of death valley is just over a mile to the north west of the town. The sand boarding hot spot is a similar distance up the valley. Sand on the ground can make cycling up very challenging and cycling down risky (your tyres can suddenly loose traction so cycle slowly)

Atacama Desert Chile, San Pedro, intrepid idependent adventure travel. Globemad EmmaWhat’s sand boarding like I hear you ask? I found it surprisingly similar to snowboarding. A sand board is actually just a snowboard that got bored of the snow. The fundamental principles are very similar to snowboarding- the way you move your weight and body position is very similar to snowboarding. The main difference is there is more friction under a sand board so you need to pick a steeper slope to get speed. It is also surprisingly tiring to walk up a sand dune… but well worth the ride back down!

 Things to do in San Pedro Atacama

Top tip

Bring a wax candle to apply wax to the bottom of the board when you reach the top of the slope. Don’t wax the front and back edge where the board curves up.

 

How much will it cost?

Bike rental 3,000-6000CLP (£3.00-6.00 or $4.50-$9.00)

Sand board rental 3000CLP (£3.00-6.00 or $4.50-$9.00)

 Things to do in San Pedro Atacama

Top tip

don’t be afraid to shop around and barter. Make sure that you are very clear on exactly how long the rental period is. We rented from our epic hostel called Juriques Hostal (Walk south down Toconao street until you are almost out of town and the hostel is on the right)

Atacama Desert Chile, San Pedro, intrepid idependent adventure travel. Globemad Pete

  

Cycling out into the desert for some stunning night time photography (or just star gazing)

The clear skies and lack of light pollution make this a stunning location for night photography and star gazing. In my view, a clear night sky is the single best view you will ever get from anywhere on earth.

 

As we gazed into the heavens more and more stars became visible as our eyes adjusted. It occurred to me that a camera set to a long exposure allows yet more light in. Night photography is truly a way of enriching your perception of reality. The epic blur of light on a night photograph is not visible to the naked eye- but it is really there and our cameras allow us to see it.

   ...ok here's our attempt at night photography- we're learning

Atacama Desert Chile, San Pedro, intrepid idependent adventure travel. Globemad PeteAtacama10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you don’t feel comfortable about cycling out independently and you are interested in learning more about the sky at night you can book tours from many tour operators in town- remember to shop around a little.

Top tip

Bring all your warm fluff! The temperature drops rapidly at night and even a gentle breeze can make you feel freezing cold before you have had time to take it in.

 

Taking a tour of the parched moon valley

Atacama Desert Chile, San Pedro, intrepid idependent adventure travel. Globemad Pete

It was fantastic to see more of this odd landscape on the moon valley sunset tour. Tours generally include a number of sites of interest such as the salt landscape of moon valley, the amphitheatre and a stunning sunset spot. Tours may also include drinks and snacks.

 

A moon valley tours range from 7,000-10,000CLP (£7-10 or $10-15)

There is also a mandatory 3,000CLP (£3 or $4.50) park entrance fee

Tours can normally be arranged on the same day

 Atacama Desert Chile, San Pedro, intrepid idependent adventure travel. Globemad Pete 

Fast facts

  • The Atacama Desert is literally the driest place on earth (ignoring the Arctic and Antarctic which have no rainfall due to constant sub-zero temperatures) Things to do in San Pedro Atacama
  • The geology of this region has been compared to mars due to the soil composition and lack of water
  • This region is one of the biggest suppliers of lithium salts which are used to produce lithium ion batteries
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2 Responses

  1. mike frisino
    | Reply

    Pete, how accessible is the area to bike touring using the town of San Pedro as a base? Its a large area, but i do not quite understand if the nice parts are too remote to see by bike or whether its so uniform that there are no special parts. Or the special parts are there, and they are accessible by bike? Can you elaborate?

    • Pete Tryon
      | Reply

      Hi Mike, there are several really nice spots to bike to outside San Pedro- moon valley, death valley and several hills to watch sunset from. San Pedro is a great base with cheap accommodation and bike rental from many places. Death valley is around 20 min outside San Pedro by bike: Cycle along Calama-San Pedro de Atacama- Paso Sico which is the main road that runs out of town in the north west direction (the same road that is used to get to moon valley). After about 20 min the main road bends left and you will see a right turn with 2 dusty roads leading in different directions (there is a building there as well). If you follow the dusty road to the left up the valley (death valley) for another 30 minutes you get to an awesome sand boarding spot. We got a really helpful map and directions from our hostel. Good luck 🙂

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