Atacama Desert Overland Adventure (Double)

  • Port

    Antofagasta, Chile

  • Activity Level

    Strenuous

  • Excursion Type

    Air, Local Sightseeing, All

  • Wheelchair Accessible

    NO

  • Cost

    USD USD USD USD

    Price over $151
  • Minimum Age

    Information not currently available.

  • Duration

    3 days/2 nights

  • Meals Included

    Yes

This overland excursion from Antofagasta to Valparaíso allows adventurous travelers to discover one of Chile's most exceptional attractions. The Atacama Desert is renowned for its important archaeological relics of the Atacameña culture, beautiful geologic formations and superb scenery.

Day 1 (L/D)

Driving through the desert, you will head towards the small town of Baquedano -- once an important junction of the Antofagasta & Bolivia Railway. The old railway station and a collection of old locomotives used in the nitrate industry are well preserved here.

From Baquedano, continue to Chacabuco -- the remnants of a large residential town built in 1922 for workers of the nearby nitrate plant. The town was abandoned after nitrate prices fell below market sustainability levels. Chacabuco was used again between 1973 and 1975 by the Pinochet government as a concentration camp for political prisoners. In recent years, the old buildings have been restored using funds granted by the German government.

The oasis town of Calama awaits you at an elevation of 7,439 feet. This is the modern town and commercial center for the world's largest open-cast copper mine.

After lunch, take a drive through interesting desert scenery. A few miles from San Pedro de Atacama, the Salt Mountain Range rises from the plain with bizarre formations. Geologically, this is the pushed-up bottom of a former lake into a near-vertical position. Wind and rain then eroded the soft material into dinosaur-like shapes. The road crosses this range through the fantastic Valley of the Moon, descending to the Atacama salt flat. From a rocky outcropping, the panoramic view extends from the salt flat to the towering Licancabur volcano in the background and the oasis of San Pedro de Atacama below. Set at 8,000 feet above sea level, this village was the main center of the Atacameña culture. By 1450, San Pedro de Atacama was conquered by the Incas. In 1536, the Spanish conquistadors arrived and built a village of mud bricks.

Head into San Pedro de Atacama for dinner and overnight accommodation.

Day 2 (B/L/D)

Explore San Pedro de Atacama, including the lovely square. This Old Town plaza features a church built in 1774 that reveals some of the local architectural style -- cactus wood details, adobe construction and leather-bound algarrobo beams.

The stone Fortress of Quitor, located two miles northwest of San Pedro de Atacama, is a must-see. Overlooking the valley of the river San Pedro, it was named a National Monument in 1982.

After lunch, continue to Laguna Chaxa, an hour from Toconao and two hours from San Pedro. The National Chilean Flamingo Reserve here is the country's most easily-accessible flamingo breeding site, and the colors are quite spectacular.

Return to the hotel in San Pedro for dinner and an overnight stay.

Day 3 (B)

Breakfast at the hotel; then, in the early morning, transfer to Calama to board a flight to Santiago. Transfer by road to the pier in San Antonio to rejoin the ship.

Notes:

You must book this overland PRIOR to sailing. The cut-off date is 60 days prior to the call at Antofagasta. Due to the popularity of this tour and strict booking conditions, cancellations fees start 90 days prior to the call at Antofagasta. This getaway is for seasoned travelers who are up for a fairly rugged trip; it is not for the faint of heart. You must bring your spirit of adventure and check your expectations of luxury at the door. However, experiences are plentiful and great memories are made. Packing is limited to overnight essentials with comfortable clothing and casual footwear. Bring layers for maximum flexibility. The trip includes driving long distances; your patience with and understanding of this is crucial to your enjoyment of the trip. Important: It is each guest's sole responsibility to obtain (before traveling) any visas, vaccinations and/or tourist cards that are required for participating in overland adventures or overnight tours, unless noted otherwise in the description. Please be aware that you may need a visa for any and/or all countries that you will depart from and travel through as part of your overland adventure or overnight tour, and for the country in which you will re-join the ship. For more information on visa requirements and applications please visit www.hollandamerica.com/cruise-vacation-planning/PlanningAndAdvice.action and click on 'Passports, Visas & Vaccinations'.