Atacama Adventure

A seven-day adventure starting in La Paz, Bolivia and ending in Calama, Chile, from where we fly south to Santiago to catch our international connection back to Auckland. This tour covers great distances (about 1,200km), mostly by 4x4 jeep and travels through spectacular and remote altiplano terrain.

a photographer’s El Dorado


The scenery is breathtaking and surreal; you will feel as if you have walked into a Salvador Dali landscape or found the inspiration for Jean Auel's "Clan of the Cave Bear" series. Photographers will have a field day with the contrasting colours and dramatic landscapes, not to mention the sunsets, which are simply stunning in this part of the world.


Although you will have the sense of being the first living being to encounter this unique landscape, other animals such as viscachas (a cross between a rabbit and a squirrel), vicuñas (the llama’s smaller cousin) and birds such as flamingos and rheas, (the South American road runner) do live here. It is so interesting to see how they have adapted to the harsh climatic extremes.


An outline of what we may encounter follows:


Day 1, 2

Fly from La Paz to Uyuni in the early morning, meet our crew and begin our adventure. Heading out of town we will visit the nearby train cemetery and Cochani, a small township near the salt flat, where salt is processed in a small family run factory.


We will venture onto the World’s largest Salt Plain, known as the Salar de Uyuni, to arrive at a Salt Hotel, where everything is made out of salt, including the furniture and bricks.


We will enjoy the gentle morning light on the Salar, observe flamingos, llamas and other wildlife and eventually will arrive at a peculiar piece of land called Fish Island, so named because of its shape and its location,  surrounded by a white sea of salt. Here, we will hike to the summit, through giant cacti, some of which are hundreds of years old and observe playful viscachas.


Drive southwest through breathtaking landscapes, that include sandy deserts, deep valleys, barren highlands and multi-hued lakes, as well as passing by active volcanoes. The geological formations, juxtaposing colours, wildlife and isolation of this region are memorable and we do some short walks to take it all in.


Day 3

An early start takes us through the Siloli Desert, past the impressive geysers and fumeroles of Sol de Mañana (4,850m), the stone tree, and the colourful lakes that change their colours depending on whether or not the wind is blowing.


It is common to observe flamingos in this area even though it is well over 4,000m. We cross the Chilean border and eventually arrive at our B & B in San Pedro de Atacama.


In the afternoon we will have an excursion to the Valley of Death and Moon Valley, each with unique geological formations that offer excellent viewpoints for enjoying the sunset.


Day 4

A full day-trip to the Altiplano Lagoons; including the Atacama Salt Plain and Chaxas Lagoon, a flamingo breeding lake. Three out of five known species can be seen here along with other bird species. The setting of snow-clad mountains mirrored in still lakes is a photographer’s dream. We also visit the altiplano towns of Toconao and Socaire, where we observe how local agricultural traditions have been retained and gain an idea of today's daily rural life and that of their hardy ancestors. Finally we will hike to the Altiplano sister-lagoons of Miscanti and Meñiques.


Day 5

Located northeast of San Pedro de Atacama, the Geysers are considered one of the most beautiful spectacles to be seen in the region. This experience starts before dawn, so that you can observe the geysers when they are at their most active. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to take a dip in a natural hot spring. Afterwards, drive  through a little village called Machuca, where you can appreciate the indigenous culture of this remote area.

Mid afternoon transfer to Calama airport from where we fly to Santiago, to connect with our flight to NZ, arriving in Auckland early morning, but two days later.



Includes: All transportation, entrances, excursions, park fees and accommodation (twin/double rooms with private bathrooms the norm), plus 4 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 3 dinners. Two connecting flights are included, one from La Paz to Uyuni, the other from Calama to Santiago. Your PB 171 Grassroots Leader will accompany this excursion.


Not included:  Tips for local guides and drivers (we suggest allowing US$50). Any unspecified meals and activities, souvenirs and possible border taxes.


Estimated Price Guide: $3,400, for a minimum of 6 travelling.


If you would like to add this extension to your  Peru & Bolivia  trip,  please advise when you Register.