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[2023] San Pedro de Atacama Travel Guide in Chile

san pedro de atacama travel guide with sunset of valle de la luna

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The high altitude desert of Atacama is truly one of a kind. It’s an extreme landscape featuring salt flats, floating lagoons, flamingos galore, NASA training grounds, and true oasis valleys, there’s a reason why this is part of the Chile triangle that also includes Patagonia and Easter Island.

If you’re about to plan your epic trip to Chile and the north is part of your plan, this San Pedro de Atacama travel guide is going to not just tell you about the top things to do but get into the nitty gritty of what most guides don’t cover including how tipping works, the sneaky fee for one type of credit card, the truth about driving the gravel roads, and so much more!

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Things To Know Before Going To The Atacama Desert

Sunset from Mirador Lickan-Antai

As we’ve done with our Torres del Paine travel guide, since there is a lot of information to digest, we’re going to start with the basics of traveling to the Atacama Desert and with that, also a focus on the town of San Pedro de Atacama.

Keep in mind that the Atacama Desert actually spans more than just Chile but since a majority of the tourism for the desert is focused around San Pedro de Atacama, that’s where we’ll be referring to.

The facts

compatible outlets in chile type l and f
  • Electricity – 220 volts, 50Hz
    • Type L (Italy and Chile)
    • Type F (most of Europe)
    • If you have Type F adapters, these will work fine. No need to invest in Type L.
  • Currency – Chilean Peso (CLP)
    • $1,000 CLP = $1.089 USD = $1.469 CAD = 1.089€ EUR
    • For many, it’ll just be easier to consider 1000 as $1 USD but if you want something more accurate, make sure to print a currency conversion cheat sheet before you go.
  • Timezone – GMT -03:00 (all year round).  This means it is normally 1 hour ahead of EST (New York, Toronto). A heads up that continental Chile (including Santiago) observes DST so in the summer months but the Magallanes region (where Patagonia is) does not. It’s quite confusing and well-explained in this Wiki but if you’re ever unsure, trust Google (and not Apple which caused us some problem because the government decided to change the date of the time change one year).
  • ATMs – These are quite sparse in San Pedro de Atacama. You’ll only find Banco BCI and Banco Estado here and none of the other…

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