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Amongst the tiny dirt-track streets of this ancient village — one of the most photographed by many specialist magazines across the world — the mysticism of ancestral cultures has been cleverly fused with modern tourism.
The closest city to San Pedro de Atacama — a territorywhichmainly belongs to indigenous ethnic groups — is Calama, at a distance of 102 km. San Pedro de Atacama is also characterized by the inherent value of its incredible natural landscape. Yes… even in the desert it is possible to find unbelievable scenery. The village is full of artisans’ stalls and stores where you can buy local weavings and jewels… and infusions such as the coca leaf, the perfect remedy for altitude sickness.
Close to San Pedro de Atacama, this salt lake — covering 3,000 km2 — is a marvel you are bound to fall in love with. Its thick crust forms piles of salt that crunch and creak at sundown as the temperature drops sharply. It is home to a wide range of Andean birds and a huge lithium reserve. Above all, it is one of the Atacama Desert’s greatest wonders — and, let’s face it, this desert is already fairly accustomed to being the centre of all things great.
Atacama Salt Lake: Many travellers make the trip to this salt lake in search of flamingos and other birds that nest there and feed from the pools of its “watery eyes” — such as the Chaxa Lagoon. The three species that can normally be seen up close are the Andean flamingo, the Chilean flamingo, and the James flamingo. Some of the guides who have settled in the area will be able to teach you how to spot the differences between them.
If you travel north of the salt lake, you will be able to visit the Village of Tulor — an archaeological site formed by interconnecting circular constructions, dating back to an architectural style that was used between 800 BC and 500 AD. The village remained buried for years, but it is now possible to explore the section that was uncovered by scientific excavations.
Out of all of the shallow lakes located on the Atacama Salt Lake, the following are the real highlights:
The Cejar Lagoon resembles the Dead Sea. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to have an “eternal floating experience” in this lake.
The Ojos de Salar Lagoonare two lakes that will make you feel as though you’re truly at one with the planet.
The Tebinquiche Lagoon acts like a huge mirror in the middle of the salt lake, in which San Pedro de Atacama’s beautiful sky is reflected.