Located to the east of Antofagasta, San Pedro de Atacama is a historical town of Chile. Rich in ancestral culture and modern tourism it is one of the finest travel destinations, especially for those who like the blend of past and present. What really draws the tourist to this travel destination is its picture perfect scenery; which also makes it one of the most photographed places by various specialized journals.
Over the centuries, this Chilean town developed around an oasis, and that, combined with the high plateaus and mesmerizing landscapes, gave the place a breathtaking scenic view. The landscapes should be one of the first places to visit in San Pedro de Atacama. The rough terrain and hilly landscape of the city also make it a perfect destination to go trekking, climbing and sand boarding in the desert. This many historical and archeological sites give tourist lots of places to visit in San Pedro de Atacama; from walking down the narrows streets of the old town and looking at various mysteries of ancestral cultures to visiting churches and just appreciating the beauty of steaming geysers, unique rock formations and looming volcanoes. Among the dusty landscapes of San Pedro lay modern guest houses, resorts, upscale restaurant and lavish cafes therefore doing something even as simple as taking a stroll down the streets could give the feeling of visiting a highland Disney world. Another activity a tourist must never leave San Pedro de Atacama without trying is amateur astronomy. The desert of San Pedro de Atacama has the clearest sky and offers a fantastic view of stars. A tourist might even be able to see Saturn and other galaxies out there with all the telescopes in the public observatory.
There are so many attractions in San Pedro de Atacama that it will take days before a tourist can visit them all. Reaching all these destinations is easier as the distance is just less than 40 km along with good highways and unpaved roads. One of the places to visit in San Pedro de Atacama is Valle de la Luna, which consist of a large dune that could be used to stand upon and to appreciate the zone. Since San Pedro de Atacama is an archeological town with beautiful landscapes, main attractions include visiting places like Toconao and Salar de Atacama, El Tatio Geysers, R. P. Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological Museum, Termas de Puritama, Pukará de Quitor, Death Valley (Valle de la Muerte), Lagunas Altiplanicas, Ruinas de Tulor and Licancabur. One tour in San Pedro also offers Horse Riding. A tourist could never leave a destination without taking some souvenirs home and since San Pedro is all about history, their Atacamanian trinkets are worth every penny. Churches surrounded with old mysteries are another destination for tourists and one of the places to visit in San Pedro de Atacama includes the second oldest church in history, the church of San Pedro De Atacama. This historic church dates back to the year 1640; it is not just the date of its origin that’s interesting in fact, it’s also the structure made with cactus wood and llama leather that makes it very impressive.
If you are just sitting around and thinking about things to do in Chile, then you won’t have to think for long. San Pedro has lots of places for tourists that are rich with historical stories, just waiting to be unfolded. Pukará de Quitor is actually a fort over a hill called Quitor and it is located about 3 Kilometers away from San Pedro. This ancient Indian fortress was built in the 12th century. The fort is constructed entirely from stones from the Liparita bank.
This fort has a history. Pukará de Quitor was the last standing base of Atacameño when the Spanish were strong in their pursuit of conquering South America. The strong defensive walls of Pukará de Quitor resisted for a long time, but the ruthless Spanish soldiers had already killed the entire village, and it was only a matter of time that Atacameño had to surrender too. The fort was also later nicknamed as “castle of the heads” since the Spanish soldiers beheaded 300 strong armies of the castle and placed their heads in a spike around the walls of the fort. Exploring the defensive walls, watchtowers and enclosures of this famous fort is one the most important things to do at Pukará de Quitor.
Iglesia San Pedro de Atacama is referred to as the church of San Pedro De Atacama. It was also declared a historical monument in the 19th century. If a tourist has time for only one of the things to do in Chile, then this must be it. The construction of Iglesia San Pedro finished in the 17th century and it is the second oldest church in Chile.
The beautiful white exterior of the church gives a striking contrast against the clear blue sky of Chile. Located at the north western corner of the square this church looks simply fascinating. It is not just the exterior of the church that holds all the beauty; the inside of the church is also rich with all its historic detail.
There were no nails used in the construction of the church, cactus wood and llama leather is all that is keeping this church standing. As with all the things in San Pedro de Atacama, this church also got just a touch of modernism when some additions were made in the 18th and 19th century. In order to get the full experience, the thing to do at Church of San Pedro de Atacama is to attend the traditional dances on June 29th of every year to celebrate the day of San Pedro, the patron saint of the church.
Valle de la Luna–Valley of the moon in English–is a creation of nature. Visiting this place must be on top of the things to do in Chile list. Due to the combined efforts of wind and water, the terrain of this valley consists of several sand formations and dunes that strangely resembles the surface of the moon–hence the name. Not just the shapes, but the changing colors of these formations also make it very fascinating and provide one of the most picturesque sites for photographers.
While the site and the uniqueness of the land is a memento in itself, the most fun of the things to do at Valle de la Luna is to try trekking and sand boarding on this sandy terrain. Standing on top of the largest dune of Valle de la Luna and watching the sunset gives one of the most surreal views of nature.
As the sun vanishes below the horizon and throws intense lights and shadows on the landscape, the valley baths in the intense colors of gold, purple and pink. In order to have an otherworldly experience most tourists visit this spot at dusk, to watch the setting sun and the changing colors of the dunes. It also provides a perfect opportunity to take vivid pictures of the valley.
Situated alongside the borders of Northern Chile and Bolivia is an active stratovolcano called Licancabur. Visiting this wonder of nature must be the first thing to do in Chile. After all, it’s not every day that we get to see a 400-meter wide summit crater with a lake inside; the same lake which is also the world’s highest lake.
Astonishingly this lake is found in the driest place on earth–the Atacama Desert–yet it had been there for the past 500 years and still looks like it’s here to stay. The area around the lake also provides some great spots for camping.
The lake has the temperature of 6°C but stays above freezing due to the geothermal heat emitting from the vents in the crater. The important from the things to do at Licancabur is to brave the climb as the impressiveness of the volcano will make it absolutely worthwhile.
A place steeped in history is certain to have a museum; where else will all the mementos and trinkets be kept? Visiting this museum is definitely one of the most important things to do in Chile for every history buff. However, it will be equally fascinating for just about anyone. R. P. Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological Museum consists of almost 380,000 artifacts from the pre-Columbian era.
Formerly this museum also housed an original mummy of a young girl, but it was later removed and replaced with a replica. The tourists will have lots of things to do at R. P. Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological Museum, including the replicas of human remains, region discoveries and also the famous treasure room. Name after its founder–a Belgian priest, the museum is currently under development and the tourists can visit the new, refurbished museum in the later months of 2016.