MundoAndino Home : Chile Guide at Mundo Andino

San Pedro de Atacama

San Pedro de Atacama is a Chilean town and commune in El Loa Province, Antofagasta Region. It is located east of Antofagasta, some 106 km (60 mi) southeast of Calama and the Chuquicamata copper mine, overlooking the Licancabur volcano. It features a significant archeological museum, the R. P. Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological Museum, with a large collection of relics and artifacts from the region. Native ruins nearby now attract increasing numbers of tourists interested in learning about pre-Columbian cultures. Tourists also visit for other popular activities including sandboarding and stargazing, with the views of the stars from the Atacama unrivalled across the continent.


San Pedro de Atacama grew, over centuries, around an oasis in the Puna de Atacama, an arid high plateau, its first inhabitants were the Atacamenos who developed basketworks and ceramic pottery crafts that can be now be appreciated by tourist in the several souvenir shops as typical products of San Pedro de Atacama.


The town lies at an average altitude of 2,400 m and visitors often experience mild altitude sickness such as dizziness, lethargy and headaches. The local climate is extremely dry (with little or no rainfall recorded in the town itself) and mild, with daytime temperatures between 25-30 degrees Celsius (77-86F) in the summer (December to February) and 18-25 degrees Celsius (64-77F) in the winter (June to August). Nighttime temperatures routinely drop below zero and can reach as low as -10C (14F) in the winter.

Water pollution

In the past it was found that the town's water supply was naturally contaminated with high levels of the heavy metal arsenic which leaches from adjacent salt lakes, with levels of as high as 600 g per litre (60 times the WHO recommended maximum) being recorded. The indigenous population seem to have developed a natural tolerance to this otherwise toxic metal and suffered few ill effects from drinking the water. Recently a filtration plant has been installed in the town which has reduced the levels of arsenic and other contaminants in the local water supply.


San Pedro lies on the main paved road from Argentina over the Paso de Jama, 160 km from the town. The road is paved throughout.

There are frequent bus services to Calama, several buses daily to Santiago and buses on 3 days a week to Salta.


There are various activities for tourist and adventurers in the San Pedro de Atacama area: trekking, climbing, archaeological sightings, exploration tours in natural landscapes and even sand boarding in the desert. Because of its altitude, a brief period of acclimatization may be required.

Sights in town

In the town there are some cultural sites:

R. P. Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological Museum, displaying ceramics and pottery crafts from the first inhabitants of the area.

Church of San Pedro, a National Monument, built with adobe, a building material used in the colonial times.

Outlying sights

El Tatio, a geyser field with over 80 active geysers.

Salar de Atacama, a giant salt area in the middle of the Atacama Desert.

Chaxas Lagoon, part of Los Flamencos National Reserve in the Salar de Atacama, inhabited by pink flamingos.

Pukara de Quitor (Fort Quitor). A fortification built by the Atacameno people in the 12th century.

Puritama Hot Springs

Laguna Miscanti (Miscanti Lagoon), an altiplanic lagoon at an altitude of 4,100 m .

Licancabur, a notable volcano near San Pedro de Atacama.

Valle de la Muerte (Death Valley): a valley where gigantic dunes and rocks abound.

Valle de la Luna ("Valley of the Moon"), a moon-like landscape with ruins of old Chilean salt mines, and worker huts.

Llano de Chajnantor Observatory, a radio-telescope site.

Holidays and festivals in San Pedro de Atacama

The festivals includes typical dances, masses in the street and a little parade through the main street of San Pedro de Atacama.

June 28 - Saint Peter

June 29 - Saint Paul

See also

Related articles

Lascar Volcano

Monturaqui crater

External links

SanPedrodeAtacama.Net & Org

San Pedro de Atacama website

R. P. Gustavo Le Paige Archeological Museum

Blog with informations about the Museum Guided Tour Service

Information, hotels and tour

San Pedro de Atacama - Official Chile Website

Didn't find what you were looking for.
Need more information for your travel research or homework?
Ask your questions at the forum about Archaeological sites in Chile or help others to find answers.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article San Pedro de Atacama

Disclaimer - Privacy Policy - 2009