Day 3 Calama & San Pedro de Atacama
Today, take an early morning transfer to the high desert mining town of Calama, gateway to the Atacama Desert. Heading into the arid landscape by private coach, stop in the village of Toconao to see the 18th-century church of San Lucas, with its distinctive bell tower, along with the artisan’s market in the town square. Next, journey to the Atacama salt flats, where the extraordinarily dry air makes the vistas spectacular. Across the salt plain, visit the subterranean lakes, such as Chaxa Lagoon within Los Flamencos National Reserve, famed as a breeding ground for Chilean and Andean flamingos.
Later, transfer to San Pedro de Atacama, an oasis-like village at an elevation of 7,900 ft (2,408 m) above sea level. Despite its stark setting, San Pedro has a charming and relaxed atmosphere. Enjoy picturesque streets lined with colourful adobe buildings that house a wonderful selection of shops, restaurants and cantinas. With only about 5,000 inhabitants and no significant city lights, the village is also an ideal base for stargazing. After dinner, join an expert astronomer for your first night of scanning the skies from the hotel grounds.