Antofagasta, Calam and San Pedro de Atacama

Shutterstock/51416425/Alexander Yu. ZotovThis desolate region is one of the most striking in Chile. The Atacama Desert is punctuated by small oases in the all-encompassing yellowness; clefts of green such as the beautiful Quebrada de Jere, near Toconao, or the Alto Loa, from where the lifelessness of the surrounding desert seems somehow impossible.

The main cities are Antofagasta and Calama, both of which are service centres for the mining industry that dominates the region's economy. Most visitors, however, head straight to San Pedro de Atacama, an ancient centre of civilization in the region since well before the Spanish conquest, and the base for trips to spectacular desert landscapes such as the Valle de la Luna and the Salar de Atacama, as well as to the geysers of El Tatio and altiplano lakes. San Pedro is home to one of the north's most important archaeological museums, and trips can also be made over the border into Bolivia to the Salar de Uyuni and to two beautiful lakes, Laguna Colorada and Laguna Verde.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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