Awasi Atacama Excursions

Craft your personalized itinerary upon arrival at the lodge. Your private guide will take your preferences, acclimatization to altitude and the weather conditions into account, and together you will design the ideal experience for your stay. Each day you will be able to choose either one Full Day or two Half Day excursions to explore Atacama's natural beauty. Here’s a sneak preview of what is waiting for you.

  • What is there to see

    At over 2,500 meters above sea level, this otherworldly place will transport you to a different planet. Breathtaking landscapes during the day and world-class stargazing during the night.

  • What is there to see

    It’s called a desert, but there is so much more. You’ll see geysers, volcanoes, salt lagoons, petroglyphs, giant cacti, pink flamingos and vicunas, to name just a few…

  • What is there to see

    The region’s rich history is still palpable. Llama caravans crossed the Andes in 1000 BC. connecting the Amazon with the Pacific Ocean, and later the Spanish conquistadors arrived.

  • What is there to see

    At over 2,500 meters above sea level, this otherworldly place will transport you to a different planet. Breathtaking landscapes during the day and world-class stargazing during the night.

  • What is there to see

    It’s called a desert, but there is so much more. You’ll see geysers, volcanoes, salt lagoons, petroglyphs, giant cacti, pink flamingos and vicunas, to name just a few…

  • What is there to see

    The region’s rich history is still palpable. Llama caravans crossed the Andes in 1000 BC. connecting the Amazon with the Pacific Ocean, and later the Spanish conquistadors arrived.

  • The Atacama Desert, tailor made

  • Wildlife and nature on the high plateau

  • Discover the history and heritage of Atacama

Historic Highlights of San Pedro

Historic Highlights of San Pedro

  • Difficulty: easy
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  • Half day, LEISURE, Culture, Bike

San Pedro de Atacama is known as the archaeological capital of Chile. The town has been permanently inhabited for at least 2,500 years. On this excursion you will visit the major archaeological sites of the settlement: the Pukará de Quitor; a pre-Columbian fort built with adobe and white volcanic rock, the village of Tulor; which has an enigmatic history and is a reflection of how architectural design is inextricably linked to the geography of the area through the use of locally sourced materials, as well as the town square and the church which was built during the Spanish colonial period and is the second oldest church in Chile.

Notes: This activity can be enjoyed by car, or walking / biking directly from the lodge.

Ayllus

Ayllus

  • Difficulty: easy
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  • Half day, LEISURE, Culture, Horseback Ride, Bike

"Ayllus" (“families” in Quechua, the language of the Incas) are the traditional forms of community in the Andes, and were at the heart of the Inca Empire´s economic prosperity. Depending on each Ayllu, labor was divided by region, with agriculture centralized in the most productive areas. Today, San Pedro de Atacama is made up of 15 Ayllus, located in the areas surrounding the town. Here, it is possible to visit the cultivated pastures and to observe the thousand-year old route of irrigation canals which are representative of the agrarian way of life of the ethnic Lickan Antay, which has remained relatively intact for millennia.

Notes: This activity can be enjoyed by car, or by walking, horseback riding or biking directly from the lodge.

Dinosaur Valley

Dinosaur Valley

  • Difficulty: moderate - Challenging
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  • Half day, ACTIVE, Horseback Ride, Walk

The Atacama Desert has often been described as being a "Martian" landscape, although to catalogue it as paleozoic would also be quite fitting. The terrain seems to have remained untouched for millions of years. While you shouldn't be surprised to fin some historic remains, the Dinosaur Valley owes its name not to fossils, but rather to the peculiar shapes that make up its topography. Alligned for several kilometres, the hills have taken on shapes that are reminiscent of the spikes on a dinosaur's back. This unique landscape allows for fantastic photo opportunities and the chance to for some slightly challenging horseback riding.

Piedra de la Coca

Piedra de la Coca

  • Difficulty: moderate
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  • Half day, Culture, ACTIVE, Horseback Ride, Bike

In prehistoric times, the inhabitants of San Pedro built a large network of commercial routes towards other regions, such as the coast or the Bolivian Altiplano. Their footprints are still visible today in the rock, where they made mysterious engravings of animals and people. Here it is possible to walk where they did, thousands of years ago, to appreciate not only the native rock art but also the beautiful natural formations of the Cordillera de la Sal.

Notes: This activity can be done by car and walking or on bicycle or by horseback riding.

Dunas

Dunas

  • Difficulty: moderate
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  • Half day, ACTIVE, Horseback Ride, Walk

Framed between the Moon Valley and the Cordillera de la Sal lays what is perhaps the epitome of this area's landscape. Enormous sand dunes are guarded by rocky salt-frosted hills. During the last thousands of years, erosion caused by unusual rainfall in this hyper-arid region has formed a strange karst landscape. Due to the barren soils, dry climate, and intense sunlight, the mountains are mostly absolute desert. Explore the sandy hills by foot or by horse to witness the vastness of the region while the Andes mountains and numerous volcanoes line the horizon.

Astronomical Observation

Astronomical Observation

  • Difficulty: easy
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  • Half day, LEISURE, Culture

Stargazing is a must when visiting San Pedro de Atacama. The stargazing tour offers a detailed look at the night sky, under some of the most favorable conditions on earth, both with our bare eyes and through a powerful telescope.You will be amazed by the beauty of space while having the opportunity to learn about subjects such as constellations, the celestial sphere, archeoastronomy, cosmology, stellar evolution and space exploration.

Notes: The availability of this tour is subject to weather conditions. These conditions become more unpredictable during the month of February because of the rainy season.

When the moon takes over the night sky and prevent us from observing most other celestial bodies we can still enjoy and learn when looking up to the sky. But we take the opportunity to observe brighter objects and we focus on the moon and its enchantment.

This is not a private activity and may be carried out in small groups of other Awasi guests.

Garganta del Diablo

Garganta del Diablo

  • Difficulty: moderate
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  • Half day, ACTIVE

The Cordillera de la Sal is composed of endless stream beds that mirror the landscape of the planet Mars. They are normally dry but ̈beware of their treacherous waters ̈ upon the arrival of the rains. One of them stands out for the enormity of its walls of clay and gypsum, from which you can expect fantastic views behind every nook and cranny of the route, finishing in a great dry waterfall: the Devil’s Ravine or Throat of the Devil.

Notes:This excursion is subject to weather conditions and conservation regulations imposed by the local communities.

Catarpe

Catarpe

  • Difficulty: easy
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  • Half day, LEISURE, Culture

In the north side of the town, following the course of the San Pedro river, you come to the Catarpe sector. Here officials of the Tawantinsuyu (Inca kingdom) were assigned to govern the Lickan Antay, collecting taxes and recruiting people to form armies for the Inca. The remains of the Kallanka (Inca center) can still be seen, surrounded by the majestic Cordillera de la Sal and the salty waters of the river. This destination can be combined with other excursions, like La Garganta del Diablo or La Piedra de la Coca.

Notes: This excursion is subject to weather conditions and conservation regulations imposed by the local communities.

Cejar Lagoon

Cejar Lagoon

  • Difficulty: easy
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  • Half day, LEISURE, Wildlife, Aquatic

The Salar de Atacama is the third largest salt flat on the planet. At its heart there are lagoons of high salinity that possess unique and beautiful birdlife, in addition to plants that are extremely salt-tolerant. At Cejar lagoon it is possible to bathe and enjoy an experience similar to that of the Dead Sea. Los Ojos del Salar and the Laguna Tebenquiche, both of great scenic beauty, can also be visited during this excursion.

Notes: This excursion is subject to weather conditions and conservation regulations imposed by the local communities.

Guatin

Guatin

  • Difficulty: moderate
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  • Half day, ACTIVE, Wildlife

Between the dryness of the salt flats and the impressive Puna are the intermediate ravines. That of the Vilama river is considered among the most beautiful and interesting, where the Cardón or Pasakana cactus grow. There are two possible routes to be taken from Guatin: you can ascend towards the Puritama hot springs or descend to the archaeological site of Gatchi. Both routes present a similar duration and level of difficulty.

Notes: This excursion is subject to weather conditions and conservation regulations imposed by the local communities.

Matancilla and Yerbas Buenas

Matancilla and Yerbas Buenas

  • Difficulty: easy
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  • Half day, ACTIVE

Some places on Earth are defined as unique due to their unusual geography and conditions, or because they represent something original in human history. On this excursion the two are combined: the site of Yerbas Buenas contains an extraordinary wealth of petroglyphs from the Lickan Antay culture. It is also in close proximity to the Matancilla valley, where the geological history of the desert is laid bare in a symphony of colors within the rock.

Notes: This excursion is subject to weather conditions and conservation regulations imposed by the local communities.

El Tatio Geysers

El Tatio Geysers

  • Difficulty: moderate
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  • Full day, LEISURE, Wildlife

The El Tatio (from the kunza "Tata-iu", which means "the grandfather who cries") geysers are one of the most popular attractions in the country. It is the largest geothermal field in the southern hemisphere, complete with small fumaroles and bubbling springs and beautiful fountains of water. However, what truly sets it apart is a different statistic: at around 4.300 meters above sea level (14.170 feet) the highest one in the world. The best time to see the steam rising from the geysers is at dawn, when the air is cold enough for the steam to erupt in giant plumes, this implies an early start (6am) to make the trip.

Notes: As this excursion implies ascending to an altitude of more than 4,000 meters above sea level, it is recommended to drink lots of water and reduce alcohol consumption.

Láscar Volcano

Láscar Volcano

  • Difficulty: CHALLENGING
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  • Full day, ACTIVE

The journey to the most emblematic volcano of the north of Chile is long and difficult. It ascends by the route to the village of Talabre and it continues towards the abandoned Huatiquina pass, passing close to the beautiful Laguna Lejía. The path to the summit is long, but not extremely difficult, and is remakable by its proximity to the crater of the volcano, from which it is possible to observe multiple Láscar smoking sulphur vents

Notes: Subject to weather and safety conditions. An acclimatizacion period of is recommended prior to ascent.

Toco Hill

Toco Hill

  • Difficulty: CHALLENGING
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  • Full day, ACTIVE

The Cerro Toco hill, which is actually a volcano, 5,600 meters above sea level, is the least difficult ascent for mountaineers. The trail is well marked and does not present technical challenges. In spite of this, the high altitude can cause problems for those who are not acclimatized and therefore deserves respect. From the summit it is possible to see not only the Salar de Atacama but also the white and green lagoons in Bolivia.

Notes: Subject to weather and safety conditions. An acclimatization period is recommended prior to ascent.

Altiplano Salt Flats

Altiplano Salt Flats

  • Difficulty: moderate
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  • Full day, Wildlife

Situated almost on the border with Argentina are the salt flats of Aguas Calientes and Tuyajto. Both are wrapped in absolute silence, mainly thanks to their low visitor numbers. The Salar de Aguas Calientes has a splendid view of the surrounding volcanoes and reddish waters. The Laguna de Tuyajto is, in contrast, a mirror of salt water, which looks like snow in the dry season.

Notes: As this excursion implies ascending to an altitude of more than 4,000 meters above sea level, it is recommended to drink lots of water and reduce alcohol consumption.

Lagunas Altiplanicas

Lagunas Altiplanicas

  • Difficulty: easy
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  • Full day, ACTIVE

This excursion includes the Toconao and Sóncor Sector, in addition to a visit to one of the greatest tourist attraction of the region: the Miscanti and Miñiques lakes. Situated at an altitude of 4,500 meters, they are of great scenic beauty. The larger is the Miscanti, which offers a panorama of Andean volcanoes, as well as populations of vicuñas and horny taguas ; the smaller is the Miñiques, from which the beautiful Miñiques volcano, the Callejón Varela and a great variety of species can be observed.

Notes: This excursion is subject to weather conditions and conservation regulations imposed by the local communities.

Alto Loa Villages

Alto Loa Villages

  • Difficulty: easy
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  • Full day, LEISURE, Culture

At the beginning of the Altiplano there are some villages that still keep to the thousand-year old traditions of the Lickan Antay culture, such as Caspana and Chiu-Chiu. Caspana is located at almost 4,000 meters altitude and preserves one of the oldest cultivation systems in the region, within a privileged landscape that combines desert, oasis and the altiplano. Chiu-Chiu was regarded as the capital of Atacama la Baja, or Lower Atacama, counterpart to the power centered in San Pedro, and boasts the oldest church in Chile, the San Francisco de Chiu-Chiu Church.

Saciel Volcano

Saciel Volcano

  • Difficulty: CHALLENGING
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  • Full day, ACTIVE

This volcano lies directly between the borders of Chile and Bolivia. In fact, during the ascent you will be meters away from the border signs, surrounded by a landscape that knows neither nationality nor name. The ascent begins from an abandoned sulphur mine, testament to the enormous will and strength of the people of Atacama, from which you climb 300 meters up to the summit - from there you can see the extinct crater of Saciel volcano, as well as the Bolivian Altiplano and the Atacama Basin.

Notes: Subject to weather and safety conditions. An acclimatizacion period of 2-3 days is required prior to ascent due to the high altitude.

Sairecabur Volcano

Sairecabur Volcano

  • Difficulty: very challenging
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  • Full day, ACTIVE, Wildlife

The "Mountain of the Rains", as it is named in Kunza, the language of the Lickan Antay, is an inactive volcano with an altitude of almost 6000 meters / 19.600 feet. The ascent is extremely difficult, which is heightened by the slope of the mountainside, the presence of sulphuric gases and the thin air at such altitude. This excursion requires prior altitude acclimatization, in addition to great willpower and endurance to reach the summit.

Notes: Subject to weather and safety conditions. An acclimatization period of around 3 days is necessary prior to ascent.