Self drive in Atacama.
Have you ever dreamed of exploring the Atacama desert and high plains of northern Chile? This probably isn’t quite the right trip for a first-timer to South America. But if you’ve visited before, don’t really fancy joining a group, and do fancy something a little challenging, then this could be for you.
DAY 01. ARICA (Driving distance: 25 Km.)
This suggestion starts in Arica, on the edge of the desert, and assumes you’re already in South America. But please note that VentureCo is ATOL bonded and can provide international flights. You can collect your vehicle either from airport or downtown in Arica which is the provincial capital and sights such as the Morro of Arica, Colon Square, St. Mark’s Cathedral and the San Miguel de Azapa Museum are all worth a visit. Overnight in Arica at the Sotomayor hotel.
DAY 02. PUTRE (Alt 3,500 m) (Driving distance: 148 km)
In the morning, after a good breakfast, start the ascent into the Andes heading towards the market town of Putre. You drive through the Lluta Valley which contains both pre-Inca and pre-Columbian villages. Spend the night in Putre at Hotel Qantati (B,D).
DAY 03. LAUCA NATIONAL PARK and return Arica (Driving distance: 225 Km.)
Visit Lauca National Park (3,200 to 6,342 m. asl.) in Andean foothills with an immense variety of flora and fauna. Its majestic volcanoes surround beautiful lagoons and lakes such as Chungara, one of the biggest in the world. Spend the night back in Arica at Hotel Sotomayor (B).
DAY 04. ARICA – IQUIQUE (Driving distance: 318 Km.)
Drive along the coast to Iquique. On your way you will see the geoglyphs at Cerro Unita and Pintados. Just outside Iquique there are several abandoned villages that were deserted after the nitrate mines were exhausted. Iquique is the capital city of the Tarapaca region. Spend the night in Iquique at Hotel Terrado Suites (Executive Room) (B).
DAY 05. IQUIQUE – SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA (Driving distance: 440 Km.)
By now you will have got the feel of your 4X4 (recommended over a 2×4): time to test it out! Drive into the driest desert in the world, crossing national reserves such as the Pampa of Tamarugal and salt lakes such as the Llamara, up to San Pedro de Atacama, recognized as the archeological capital of Chile, with beautiful natural and cultural attractions. Spend the night in San Pedro de Atacama at Hotel Altiplanico or Hotel Kimal (B).
DAY 06. SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA (Short, off road drives)
Near San Pedro de Atacama is the Cordillera de la Sal, or Moon Valley, which is a nature reserve containing several archaeological sites such as Quitor, Katarpe and Tulor. Los Flamencos National Reserve is one of the greatest attractions of the region, offering breathtaking scenery, like the great Atacama Salt Lake and the Altiplanical Lagoons. Spend the night in San Pedro de Atacama at Hotel Altiplanico or Hotel Kimal (B).
DAY 07. SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA (Short, off road drives)
Attractions of the Atacama include the Geyser El Tatio, where you need to arrive very early in the morning, before dawn, to observe the fumaroles and colour changes according the light. Relax in the Puritama Hot Springs or swim in the Cejar lagoon which is saline. Spend the night in San Pedro de Atacama at Hotel Altiplanico or Hotel Kimal (B).
DAY 08. SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA – CALAMA (Driving distance: 100 Km.)
Depending on your flight schedule, return the 4X4 at Calama airport or the downtown office. We recommend you take an afternoon flight, so you could visit the Chuquicamata mine near Calama, in the morning. (B).
· 7 nights hotel with breakfast
· 7 days rental car with unlimited mileage and taxes
· Pick-up Arica; Drop-off Calama
· Insurance / CDW
· Route map and descriptions
Note: Don’t forget to bring warm clothes: night temperature can drop to 0°C or less. And don’t forget your swimming togs!
(B=Breakfast / D=Dinner)
For the Rental vehicle: 1 day = 24 hrs; which means you must pick up and return the vehicle in units of 24 hrs. If you return the vehicle later, you will be charged 1 extra rental day.
The price depends on the car you choose, we recommend a 4×4.
Contact us for the full range of available vehicle
Basic car (B Category) for example Mazda 2 Sport S 5MT or similar.
1 person £1,627
2 or 3 persons: £884 per person
4 persons: £704 per person
Intermediate car (G Category) for example Nissan X-=Trail XL801 o similar.
1 person £1,987
2 or 3 persons: £1,072 per person
4 persons: £794 per person
Snarly 4X4 (K Category) for example Mitsubishi L-200 2.5 4X4 CRM or similar.
1 person £2,197
2 or 3 persons: £1177 per person
4 persons: £847 per person