Awasi LodgeAwasi suggests a series of excursions so you can enjoy the magic of the Atacama geography, the silence of its landscape and the warmth of its people. Each group can program their outings according to their own rhythm and particular interests, and will be accompanied by a travel companion willing to share his knowledge of the place and his own experiences. Our wish is that every image, every road, and every memory will become an unforgettable experience.

Keep in mind that these proposals are just suggestions, as all the outings may be fitted to your tastes and preferences. Some of the excursions have been planned for the last days of your stay at Awasi so that people who are not used to the altitude may gradually adapt to it.

 





HALF-DAY PRIVATE, 4 WHEEL-DRIVE JEEP EXCURSIONS

Atacama History (8.000 feet above sea level) Departure: Morning or afternoon.
Jeep ride: 18.6 miles (round trip)
Foot hike: 4.3 miles approx. (Just Quitor Pukara and Museum) Duration: 3 hours approx.

This excursion is a fascinating trip through time. We leave Awasi in jeep and drive to the Quitor Pukara, an Atacama fortress dating back to 1.000 AD, located in the Ayllu of Quitor, about 2 miles from San Pedro. We ascend the ruins and from their height, we enjoy a privileged view of the Andes, the San Pedro River and the zone’s cultivation. Then we continue on to the town of Tulor, located some 6 miles from San Pedro and one of the first and most important Atacamenian settlements, dating back to 800 BC. Here we will visit the excavation site of the ruins and the reconstruction of original homes, created according to the criterion of archaeologists. Finally, you have the option to visit the Father LePaige Archeological Museum, where Atacamenian history is revealed in rich detail. For those who wish to immerse themselves in our history and in Atacamenian or “Lickanantai” culture, as well as understand why San Pedro is Chile’s archaeological capital, this is an absolute must.
Level of difficulty: Easy.
What to bring along: Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, closed toe walking shoes, and a bottle of Awasi water.

Walk Around Town (8.000 fasl) Departure: Morning or afternoon. Foot hike: 1.25 miles
Duration: 2 hours approx. 

This is an ideal walk to get to know San Pedro and its history, seeing beyond its restaurants and shops. We leave Awasi and head to the old downtown, with a guided tour of the Father LePaige Museum, the town square, the town church, the house of Pedro de Valdivia, the craft market and the main street.
Level of difficulty: Easy.
What to bring along: 
Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, closed toe walking shoes, and a bottle of Awasi water.

Toconao and Atacama Salt Flats (7.500 fasl) Departure: Morning or afternoon.
Jeep ride: 67 miles (round trip)
Duration: 4 hours approx. 

The jeep leaves Awasi heading south on a paved road towards the Salt Lake.
After about 24 miles, we reach the town of Toconao, famous for its buildings made of liparite volcanic stone. There, we can visit its church and historic bell tower, as well as visit the booths of craftspeople who offer their goods in the square. Next to Toconao is Jere creek, a canyon with the only running fresh water in these surroundings. This spring crosses and irrigates a rich orchard of fruit trees and farmed vegetables. Then, we continue on to Chaxa pond, a National Reserve located at the Atacama Salt Flat. This pond is surrounded by salt crusts and gypsum produced by the evaporation of salty ground water. Here we can observe the flamingoes that inhabit the Salt Flat, as well as other native bird species. This is undoubtedly a landscape of captivating beauty from which you can see the Domeyko Range, the Salt Range and the Andes Range – a panorama that becomes particularly splendid at dusk.
Level of difficulty: Easy.
What to bring along: Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, windbreaker or coat (in the evening), closed toe walking shoes, and a bottle of Awasi water.

Moon Valley (8.200 fasl)

Departure: Morning or afternoon
Jeep ride: 25 miles (round trip)
Duration: 3 hours approx.

We leave Awasi and head west towards the Salt Range, where we will find Moon Valley, located some 15 minutes away. Its name speaks of the landscape’s magic we are about to visit. As the tour progresses, we stop at various lookouts and observe the geological formations which, added to the action of wind and water, have created a geographical relief reminiscent of the inhospitable beauty of the lunar surface. In the morning, you can relish the silence and solitude of this magnificent landscape; in the evening, enjoy the sunset as it subtly changes colors over the mountains.
Level of difficulty: Easy.
What to bring along: Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, windbreaker or coat (in the evening), closed toe walking shoes, and a bottle of Awasi water.

Cejar Pond (7.500 fasl)

Departure: Morning or afternoon.
Jeep ride: 23 miles (round trip)
Duration: 3 hours approx.

We leave Awasi by car and head south, crossing part of the ayllus that are farthest away from San Pedro, and then turn onto a dirt road with a marvelous view of the three surrounding mountain ranges (the Andes, the Salt, and the Domeyko). After some 11 miles, we reach Cejar, a set of three ponds located in the middle of the Salt Flat and in one of which we can bathe. Given its high salt concentration, you can not only float on the water, but cannot sink, a phenomenon similar to that found in the Dead Sea (Israel). In this place we can watch birds that live in the Salt Flat zone and enjoy a privileged view of the surrounding mountain ranges whose forms and colors reflect in the deep blue of its waters. This outing is also optional on bicycle, a ride that takes approximately
1 hour and forty-five minutes, returning to the Hotel by car (See Cejar on Bike)
Level of difficulty: Easy.
What to bring along: Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, bathing suit, water shoes and a bottle of Awasi water.

Catarpe (8.200 fasl)
Departure: Morning or afternoon.
Jeep ride: 12 miles (round trip)
Duration: 3 hours approx.

Heading north from Awasi in jeep, we pass through the Quitor Ayllu, famous for its pukara fortress (See Atacama Culture), and cross the San Pedro River. From here, we will stop in different places, soak up local Atacamenian history and enjoy a new view of the Salt Range. We recommend visiting the tunnel through which the old road
to Calama passed, where you can enjoy a splendid view of the Andes mountain range and the valley at your feet. We can also walk around Devil’s Creek and appreciate its strange gypsum and clay formations. Over a hill in the distance, you can see the ruins of a “tambo incaico,” an administration center from the Incan era.
We will continue through the Catarpe ayllu and come to the small San Isidro chapel, situated on a small hill from where we can admire the valley at its fullest.
Level of difficulty: Easy; 15 minute hike up an inclined trail to visit the tambo incaico.
What to bring along: Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, windbreaker, closed toe walking shoes, and a bottle of awasi water.

Departure: Morning or afternoon.

Jeep ride: 112 miles (round trip)
Duration: 4 hours approx.

We set out on a highway towards Calama, turning north after 28 miles. Upon reaching a place called Yerbas Buenas, we walk around and observe the rock engravings (petroglyphs) created by the inhabitants of the Salt Flat Basin nearly 3 thousand years ago. Next, we follow a road that leads us to Matancilla, a zone of valleys surrounded by striking, multicolored hills where vibrant grey, green, red and orange colors coat the mountainside of the Domeyko range. In jeep or on foot, you can see a landscape completely different from that seen near San Pedro.
Level of difficulty: Easy.
What to bring along: Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, windbreaker for the evening, closed toe walking shoes, and a bottle of Awasi water.

Puritama (11.000 fasl)
Departure: Morning or afternoon.
Jeep ride: 38 miles (round trip)
Duration: 3 hours approx.

The road to the hot springs provides a new view of the Andean mountain range, with marked color changes in its formations and vegetation characterized by the appearance of the first high altitude cacti and tall shrubs. Upon reaching the hot springs, we head down the creek to the pools, which are surrounded by native vegetation that also acts as a shelter for different bird species. There are 7 different pools to choose from, ranging in temperature from 86 ̊F to 92 ̊F, which makes them ideal for relaxation. The quality of the waters and the natural setting invite you to enjoy an unforgettable experience.
Level of difficulty: Easy.
What to bring along: Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, bathing suit, water shoes and a bottle of Awasi water.

Machuca (13.000 fasl)
Departure: Morning or afternoon.
Jeep ride: 56 miles (round trip)
Duration: 4 hours approx.

We leave Awasi heading north in the direction of Machuca, a small town inhabited by only a few Atacamenian families. Their houses are made of volcanic rock, which the locals bring from the surrounding vicinity, and their roofs of tall altiplano grass, following construction customs in the Andean altiplano. You can appreciate the beautiful view of the landscape that surrounds this town from the height of a local church: yellow hills of tall vegetation that covers wetlands where llamas graze in the company of different species of wild birds, and, in the distance, the Andes mountain range.
Level of difficulty: Easy, but it requires previous adaptation to the altitude.
What to bring along: Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, warm clothing and a bottle of Awasi water.

Machuca Hill (14.000 fasl) Departure:
Morning or afternoon
Jeep ride: 56 miles (round trip)
Duration: 4 hours approx. 

We head north on the same road that takes us to the town of Machuca. After some 50 minutes, we turn towards Machuca Hill, climbing a steep road that changes yellow in color as the tall highland grass starts to overtake the area. This is one of the few places where you can see llareta, a type of brush ideal for combustion. We reach 14.000 FASL, where the landscape opens up to give us a 360 ̊ view of the Andes mountain range on one side, the Salt and Domeyko ranges on the other, the town of Machuca in the north, the rivers that flow down the mountains, and the Salt Flat Basin in the distance to the south. Here, from the peak, you realize how small you are in comparison to the grandeur of the altiplanic scene.
Level of difficulty: Easy, but requires previous adaptation to the altitude.
What to bring along: Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, hiking shoes, warm clothing for the wind and a bottle of Awasi water.

Highland Salt Flats (13.800 fasl)
Recommended departure: 9:30 / Return: 17:30
Jeep ride: 205 miles (round trip)
Duration: All day.

We leave Awasi heading south and visit the towns of Toconao and Socaire (10.600 FASL). Along the way, we will see different types of landscapes, including dry desserts, small oases, high altitude vegetation and a mountain landscape in all its magnitude. Intertwined with the scenery, we will be able to see vicunas, among other wild species. We will be surprised by the immensity and inhospitable beauty of the Tuyajtu and Aguas Calientes salt flats – where we will eat lunch – with their turquoise colored ponds inhabited by wild ducks and flamingoes. Level of difficulty: Easy, but requires previous adaptation to the altitude
What to bring along: Sunscreen, sunglasses, windbreaker, warm clothing, long pants, closed toe walking shoes, a hat, gloves, and a bottle of Awasi water.

Miscanti and Miñiques (14.100 fasl)
Recommended departure: 9:30 / Return: 17:00
Jeep ride: 124 miles (round trip)
Duratioin: All day.

A spectacular encounter with the highland landscape. We leave Awasi taking the road south and visit the towns of Toconao and Socaire (10.600 ft). We continue along the road leading to Argentina (Paso Sico) and then head towards Miscanti and Miñique Ponds, which are part of Los Flamencos National Reserve (14.100 ft). The main features of the place are its intensely blue ponds and native birds such, as the tagua and the blanquillo. This outing includes lunch and, possibly, an optional visit to the Highland Salt Flats.
Level of difficulty: Easy, but requires previous adaptation to the altitude.
What to bring along: Sunscreen, sunglasses, windbreaker, warm clothing, long pants, closed toe walking shoes, a hat, gloves, and a bottle of Awasi water.

Tara Salt Flat (14.100 fasl)
Recommended departure: 9:30 / Return: 16:30
Jeep ride: 143 miles (round trip)
Duration: All day.

We leave San Pedro on an international highway heading towards Bolivia (Paso Hito Cajón) and Argentina (Paso Jama) to reach the Licancabur Volcano (19.410 FASL) and the Juriques Volcano (18.830 FASL), two impressive mountains that appear unreachable when seen from town.
We continue along the altiplano, passing the fertile lowlands of River Quepiaco where we can see vicuñas, flamencos and wild ducks. Then, we arrive at the incredible rock formations of Pakana Monk (15.100 FASL) – true wonders of nature. We will abandon the paved road, and follow a trail that leads us to enormous rock cliffs which surround the Tara Salt Flat (13.800 FASL). Here we will enjoy our lunch with a spectacular view of Lake Tara and the mountains that surround it.
It is too arduous a task to put into words what the majesty of this landscape awakens in us is – it is better just to live it. Level of difficulty: Easy, but requires previous adaptation to the altitude.
What to bring along: Sunscreen, sunglasses, windbreaker, warm clothing, long pants, closed toe walking shoes, a hat, gloves, and a bottle of Awasi water.

Tatio Geyser (14.200 fasl)
Departure: Dawn
Jeep ride: 112 miles (round trip)
Duration: 6-7 hours approx.

We set out north while it is still dark out and as we advance we can see the contour of the Andes Range along with a spectacular view of a starlit sky. After an hour and a half on the road, we reach the Geothermic Camp of Tatio: Underground springs that gush out intermittently in the form of imposing steam and hot water columns. After having walked around, we will have breakfast while enjoying the sunrise, the landscape and the peculiarity of its fumaroles. Before returning to Awasi, there is the option to visit the town of Machuca (See Machuca) or stop at the Puritama hot springs, where we can bathe and enjoy an appetizer.
Level of difficulty: Easy, but requires previous adaptation to the altitude.
What to bring along: Sunscreen, sunglasses, windbreaker, warm clothing, long pants, closed toes walking shoes, a hat, gloves, and a bottle of Awasi water.

Towns of Alto Loa: Caspana, Chiu Chiu, Lasana (14.100 fasl)
Recommended departure: 9:30 / Return: 17:30 (It is possible to finish at the airport)
Jeep ride: 236 miles (round trip)
Duration: All day

We leave Awasi heading north, crossing the highland ravines and wetlands filled with flora and fauna unique to the area. After about an hour, we redirect towards Caspana, the Atacamenian town which has most strongly maintained its traditions and customs. The townspeople of Caspana still farm on traditional terraces and you can visit the historic sector of the town, with Incan style, dry-stone wall construction.
Next, we stop at the Chiu-Chiu village where we will visit what is considered to be the oldest church in Chile, constructed in the 16th century and dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi. Then we will head towards Lasana, where 7.5 miles of crops lead us to an impressive Pukara, an Atacamenian fortress from which the locals defended themselves against possible conquests. Afterwards, we will return to the highway and head towards San Pedro or the airport if the outing coincides with the end of your trip to Atacama.
Level of difficulty: Easy, but requires previous adaptation to the altitude.
What to bring along: Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, closed toe walking shoes, warm clothing and a bottle
of Awasi water.

Rio Grande (10.500 fasl)
Recommended departure: 9:30 / Return: 16:30
Jeep ride: 112 miles (round trip)
Duration: All day

This is not one of the most frequent tour visits, but it is especially attractive. We take the highway from Awasi heading towards Calama and after around 28 miles, turn towards Rio Grande. We will visit the ancient petroglyphs in Yerbas Buenas and see astounding colors in Valley Arco Iris. After travelling over a steep road, we come to the town of Santiago del Rio Grande. From there, we enjoy a spectacular view of the valley, its farming terraces and animal corrals, and the giant cacti that grow on the creek hillside.
We head down to the town where we walk around, visit the church and the farming sectors, and stop to have lunch next to the river.
Level of difficulty: Easy.
What to bring along: Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, closed toe walking shoes, wamr clothing and a bottle of Awasi water.

San Bartolo (8.530 fasl)
Recommended departure: 9:30 / Return: 16:30
Jeep ride: 50 miles (round trip)
Duration: All day

We leave Awasi on the highway towards Calama and head east after around 15 minutes. We abandon the paved road and continue onward by a dirt road that leads us on a trip through time: First, we stop to see the petroglyphs at Coca Rock and then at the Salt River. Next, we walk to the San Bartolo hacienda where the Rio Grande flows, nourishing the surrounding greenery, native trees and wide variety of bird life. Amidst the striking clay mountains that surround the area, we will find old abandoned adobe houses and ruins of what was once a fortified copper mine before it fell into disuse in 1935 after a landslide. Afterwards, we will enjoy our lunch under the shade of a carob tree before returning to Awasi. There is also the option of walking from the Salt River to the Valley of Cuchabrache (See Salt River – Cuchabrache in half-day hikes) and return to the hotel by jeep from there.
Level of difficulty: Easy.
What to bring along: Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, closed toe walking shoes, warm clothing for the afternoon and a bottle of Awasi water. Backpack and hiking shoes if you would like to do the hike afterwards.

Talabre (11.745 fasl)
Recommended departure: 9:30 / Return: 16:30
Jeep ride: 70 miles (round trip)
Duration: All day

Talabre is a farming-pastoral community with a population no larger than 100 inhabitants. Twenty years ago the community moved from its original settlement to its present day location. We begin with a visit to Old Talabre, where we will take in its ruins, historic cemetery and splendid view of the active volcano Lascar. Afterwards, we will head down the ravine to New Talabre where we can walk around for an hour and admire the petroglyphs, the historic vestiges of the Atacamenians. We enjoy lunch amidst the farm and fruit trees of a local family. Upon our return to Awasi, we can visit Lake Chaxa or the town of Toconao (See Toconao and Atacama Salt Flats). This is the perfect combination of landscape, culture and history.
Level of difficulty: Intermediate.
What to bring along: Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, hiking shoes, long pants, warm clothing for the afternoon, backpack and a bottle of Awasi water.

Peine y Tilomonte (7.545 fasl)
Recommended departure: 9:30 / Return: 17:00
Jeep ride: 130 miles
Duration: All day

Driving south from Awasi, we pass the town of Toconao and after around 45 miles we head west towards the Atacama Salt Flats. We arrive in Peine after about an hour and fifteen minutes and visit the church, the historic ruins of Old Viejo and a cave painting nearly 3,000 years old. After we walk around the town, we will move on to Tilomente, an oasis in the middle of the desert located 9 miles from Peine. The beautiful limestone houses here are deserted and it is difficult to find people. After strolling through the oasis, we will eat lunch in the shade of a carob tree carved by the Spanish conquistadors as they traveled through the Atacama Salt Flat Basin in the 16th century. Finally, during our return trip to San Pedro, we can visit Chaxa Lake (See Toconao and Atacama Salt Flat).
Level of difficulty: Easy.
What to bring along: Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, closed toe walking shoes, warm clothing and a bottle of Awasi water.

+Map

mapa awasi lodge