Northern Chile with Atacama dessert and the Ojos de Salado Volcano

Travel to the highlights of northern Chile, San Pedro de Atacama, Tatio Geysers, Valle de Luna, Lascar Volcano, Tocor, Ojos de Salado, Cerro Vicuña!


Chile is generally known as the country of contradictions. Especially the mountain regions couldn’t be more differently!

The green, rainy Patagonia in the south with its random rock formations really has nothing in common with the dry desert regions in the north with its unique volcanoes, where rain is almost unknown. Exactly this Atacama region, we want to visit with you during our tour.

The Tour

After spending some time in our city of arrival, the metropolis Santiago de Chile, we will head off towards the north. In the desert city San Pedro de Atacama we will do some interesting excursions into the unique volcano regions. There we will discover not only colorful lagoons, but also sparkling Geysers and spectacular volcano forms and rare animals, especially flamingos. We will carry on to Copiapo, from where on we will conquer the Ojos de Salado, the second biggest mountain of the American continent. Our journey ends in Santiago de Chile, where you will take your flight back.



Dates and Prices

  • Length: 23 days
  • 3. to 26. February 2009 Price 2.495 Euros
  • 3. to 26. February 2010 Price 2.495 Euros
  • Further dates >> Request...

We offer

  • Transfer from and to the airport
  • Bus- und taxi transfers within the country
  • All accommodations in simple, traditional hotels and tents
  • Organization of the mountain climing tours to Ojos de Salado and the others, including guide, food and beverages, permit and rented equipment
  • Guides on site
  • All entrances to the national parks
  • Guided hiking tours

Not included

  • Flight
  • Travel accident and health insurance
  • Luggage and travel cancellation insurance
  • Departure taxes at the airport, at the moment 25$
  • Not mentioned food and beverages
  • Tips
  • Personal spending


  • Minimal: 4
  • Maximal: 10

Detailed description of the tour

1. Day: Arrival

The first day we will spend in Santiago de Chile. The flight over snow covered mountains already offers us a beautiful view of the landscape that we will discover shortly during our tour. After picking you up from the airport you will, first of all check into your hotel, of course now you will have time to take a rest. To conclude our first day we will have a nice dinner in a traditional local restaurant.

2. Day: Cerro Cristobal, Santiago

Santiago de Chile, with its more than 5 million inhabitants and its yearly growth of 100.000 inhabitants, is the unlimited centre of the country. So, definitely worth visiting. Despite its hugeness, the orientation is easy and the centre well arranged. Here we will start our roundtrip to the Plaza de Armas, carry on to the pedestrian area Paseo Ahumada and to the Museo Chileno de Arte, where artifacts from all parts of South America are presented, partly more than 500 years old. Afterwards we will climb up the Cerro San Cristobal; 500 meter above the city this site offers us a terrific view over the city.

3. Day: Ride to Calama

Now its time to head off to the north. Unfortunately the bus drive to Calama is very long, but we charter a comfortable bus, with reclining seats, so that we can sleep during the night. Simple meals are also included, as well as some breaks in between. We carry steadily on next to The Panamerikana, partly through breathtaking coast and mountain regions, so that even the bus drive will definitely be an adventure.

4. Day: Valle de Luna

Today at forenoon we will arrive in Calama, with approximately 100.000 inhabitants. It is the centre of the Atacam desert region, especially in Mining. However, the 2.250 meter high mountain-workers city doesn’t have a lot of interesting sites to offer. After the 23 hours drive from Santiago, we will also manage the 90 minutes more to San Pedro de Atacama. The ride is short, but impressive, as we will drive through one of the most random landscapes ever. In Calama we will have a bit of spare time, so that we can have a first look at the city. At midday we arrive at San Pedro, just in time to have lunch in the overwhelming desert landscape. In the afternoon we will have a short look around, before getting picked up at 4am to observe the glorious sunset in the famous Valle de la Luna. This valley used to be a huge lake that rose up due to the tectonically actions. As it is only 12km from San Pedro, we can walk through a part of the valley and later on arrive at time at the big dune, where the view is the best. Accommodation and dinner in San Pedro de Atacama.

5. Day: Canyon Hike

To acclimate us further, today we will hike through a canyon in the close environment of San Pedro. With some ups and downs we move on a height of approx. 3.500 meters and hike through impressive canyon landscapes wit random holes and a tiny creek. At the end of the tour you can enjoy a bath in the hot sources, including a massage underneath a small waterfall. As the tour only takes us half the day, we will have some time left in the afternoon. Who likes can use this time to climb up the fort ruins Quitor de Pucara, which are 3km from San Pedro or visit the nature Museum in San Pedro.

6. Day: Tatio Geysire

Now it’s time for a day tour to the highest Geyser field world wide (4.300m), the famous Tatio Geyser. Next to warm clothes you will also need bathing clothes, as next to the Geysers there are nature pools with thermal water. Above the Geysers, there is a perfect place to observe Viscachs. However the absolute highlight is the out flowing stream in the Fumaroles. Afterwards, the first mountain hike is following, the Leon, a mountain appearing right above the Geysers. This mountain is not really difficult to climb up, also its 4.800m should be managed easily.

7. Day: Salt lakes

Today we will get up really early. After having lunch in San Pedro, we will do a jeep drive into the white shining salty desert of the Salar de Atacama. Sun protection is very important; the view offers us wonderful motives for taking pictures. On our way we will pass two to salty lagoons, of course bathing possibilities are included. Here you will fell like at the Dead Sea, sinking is almost impossible. When there is some time left, you can do another acclimatization tour. At night we will return to San Pedro de Atacama to have dinner and go to sleep.

8. Day: Climb to Lascar

The next highlight follows, as today we will climb up the 5.456meter high volcano Lascar. The organization will be carried out by a partner agency, so that the tour can be done within one day. The view is almost always clear and the summit offers us a beautiful view above the numerous volcanoes, for instance the Licancabur (5.918m) and endless white salt lakes. Also the highest mountains above the Atacama, including the volcano Pilli can be observed from here. The climb up is easy; you won’t need to use your hands. However the loose volcano sand as well as the height can be a small barrier. For the ride we will take more or less 3 hours, but the landscape we are passing is more than worth the journey.

9. Day: Lagoons

After the efforts of the Lascar hike, today we will take it a bit easier. A few lagoons high up are our destination, the Laguna Altiplanicas on a height of more than 4000m. The most famous lagoons at the Laguna Chaxa and the Laguna Miscanti are both located in the National Park, offering various flamingo colonies. The ride is long, therefore it is recommended to get up early, especially as we also want to visit the Andean villages Toconao and Socaire, which are almost untouched in how far tourism is concerned.

10. Day: Climbing up the Tocor

Today we will leave San Pedro, driving to Calama, making a detour over a mountain. We will climb up the volcano Tocor (5650m), over the pass to Argentina. The climb up is easy; you won’t need to use your hands. Only the unusual height could pose a few problems. As the drive to the mountain is considerably shorter as to Lascar, the tour will be concluded relatively early, so that we will arrive quite early at our hotel in Calama. There, a traditional meal and a warm bed are waiting for us.

11. Day: Drive to Copiapo

From Calama an 11hours long journey to Copiapo is following. Again the ride offers us fantastic views and panoramas. The bus has reclining seats as well as simple meals. Copiapo has about 10.000 inhabitants and means green city. Due to the converge of various rivers, it really deducts a bit from the surrounding coastal desert, however a bit of green is left. From here on we will start our following tours into the Andean regions. But enough for today.

12. Day: Lagoon Santa Rosa

First of all we will meet in the office of our partner agency to gather the necessary equipment for the following program. Lunch is following, before heading off to the Andes. The drive up to the Laguna Santa Rosa has to be managed, organized by our partner agency. Unfortunately there is scarcely time for one hike for today. Our dinner we will have at the Laguna Santa Rosa, where we will also stay overnight at a height of 3700 meters. The atmosphere at night and the sunset at the deep blue lagoon offer unforgettable pictures.

13. Day: Hut summit

With a bit of luck, the hut right next to the lagoon is still not occupied, so that we won’t need our tents for sleeping. But also the hut isn’t really comfortable, as we also have to sleep with camping mat and sleeping bag. From here on we will now conquer a small summit, directly next to the hut. On a height of 5.000 meter the route leads us through a region with terrific views. In the afternoon we will get picked up and taken up higher. The next days we will sleep at the Laguna verde at a height of 4.300 - 4.500 meters. With a bit of luck, also here is some space in the Refugio left. The Refugio Murray doesn’t lie directly at the lagoon, but really close, so that we can walk over to take a bath. The hut is rather big and offers also space for a bigger group. However, you will again have to sleep on the floor.

14. Day: Cerro Mulas Muertas

Today we conquer another summit, the 5.500 high Cerro Mulas Muertas. This point isn’t the main summit, but easily managed within one day. As we are well motorized we will manage the tour within one day and sleep another time at the lagoon. The mountain can be climbed without technical difficulties. Also the height shouldn’t be a problem anymore. The Cerro Mulas Muertas doesn’t count to the highest mountains of the region, however the view is fantastic. Especially the views onto the Ojos de Salado, Nevado Tres Cruzes and onto the other 6000meter high mountains are breathtaking. A bath in the thermal next by, will conclude our day.

15. Day: Cerro Vicuña

One night more we will spend at the lagoon in order to be prepared perfectly for the following mountain. As we have a vehicle, there is a form test for every one who feels fit enough, namely a small 6000er. The mountain is called Cerro Vicunia and can be reached quite easily from the hut. However we can only drive up to a height of 4800 meters, so that 1.200 meters are left for us to climb up. Who doesn’t feel like managing this, can simply walk up to the pre summit and break off the tour wherever wished. Who manages the climb to the top can take a break on the next day, as there is no tour planned, only the transport to the next hut. But before we will sleep another time on 4.500 meters in order to recover from the mountain hike.

16. Day: Base camp

Passing the Laguna Verde (4325m) we approach the mountain a bit further, as today we are heading off to the base camp for the climb to the Ojos de Salado, the Refugio Atacama. Now we have reached quite a height, the hut lies at 5.250meters, so much higher than every Alpine mountain. Until to the hut we can take a jeep. To acclimatize further we will stay here overnight. At night it gets cold and un-cosy, the small hut is almost every time occupied. So we will take another trip into the height. The views are unbelievable interesting. So even our sparse dinner will become a special pleasure.

17. Day: High camp

Another day we will spend in the height of the camp Atacama in order to get prepared for the night in the higher up Refugio. Today we will climb up to the Refugio Tejos, to carry up some stuff like cookers or food and to take a first glimpse at the route. Six sleeping bags and mattress offers the hut, so only a few persons have space here. In case this shouldn’t be enough we will have to build up some more tents. Today we will camp anyway us we climb down again.

Who already feels really fit can directly sleep up there and eventually start a first try to summit, accompanied by one of our hiking guides.

18. Day: Refugio Tejos

Deep black flight sand complicates the ascend to the Refugio Tejos y Murray at a height of 5750 meters, the starting point to the summit. Although there is only a height difference of 500m, it will take us about 3 hours for the ascend. But we can take it easy, as we have the whole day for this route. Due to the luggage the ascend can be quite hard, but if everyone can cope with the height there shouldn’t be any problems. Tonight we can stay in the hut; this makes the attack to the summit on the next day possible. Also today we will climb a bit higher up, as this assures a better acclimatization. Now the chances should be well to climb up the highest active volcano, in case the weather is good.

19. Day: Ojos de Salado Summit

If everything went smooth until today, now the highlight of the whole journey is waiting for us, the Ojos de Salado (6.895m). Right behind the Aconcagua there is the “Ojos”, the second largest mountain in southamerica. Besides it is the highest summit of Chile and also the highest active volcano worldwide, as now and the there is still a bit of smoke leaking. Due to the low amount of condensation in the extremely dry Atacama Desert, there are also no glaciers. There are not a lot of technical difficulties when climbing up the mountain, nevertheless the ascend is all in all rather exhausting. The complicated drive up, the conditions of the high desert and the height of nearly 7000meters make the mountain to a demanding hiking destination. The reward is marvelous views and unique impressions of one of the most random landscapes of the world. Strange rock formations, colorful shining lagoons and interesting volcanoes emboss this rocky desert at a height of much more than 4000meters. Only a few, also quite random plants can grow and live here, at the lagoons it swarms of flamingos. Besides there is an extremely clear air and an unbelievable wide view.

Today we have to manage another 1.100 meters until reaching the summit. From 6.400 meters on we climb up the easy but viewfull western grout up to the boarder of the crater at a height of 6.700m. Passing brimstone-like rock formations we will climb up the summit grout, where safe climbing areas (2nd grade of difficulty) form our last 50 meters. The descend is on the same route. If possible, we will climb down further to the Refugio Atacama, to organize our return to Copiapo. This takes us more or less 5 hours, if we reach the city today. There, a warm bed and a really good dinner are waiting for us, and if you like even a beer!

20. Day: Reserve day

Today we will sleep long to relax from the efforts of the last days. Afterwards we can have a look at the city or take a taxi to the beach next by, the beach of Bahia Inglesa. The drive to the near Caldera would take us about 1, 5 hours, about 73km away from Copiapo; it is directly located at the coast. Eventually this day will also be used for the ascend to the Ojos. For this additional day, about 10 additional pesos would accrue for beverages and transport.

21. Day: Ride to Santiago

This day can be used as a day-off. The other option would be to take the bus back to Santiago de Chile, this takes us about 12 hours. A few simple meals are included; who wants can also order reclining seats. At night we will check into our hotel. Who wants to can enjoy the turbulent nightlife in the metropolis Santiago de Chile.

22. Day: In Santiago

The last day can be used according to you personal preferences. In case that we need more day than planned for the hike to the Ojos, this day is misplaned anyway.
Alternatively, a daily trip to the surrounding Andes would be possible. For that we will head for San Gabriel, where we can visit the huge Cascadas de las Animas. The Waterfalls are located in the Cajon de Maipo, that we will reach 50 km. away from Santiago on a route next to the Rio Maipo, a terrific view included. For this trip, additional 30 Euros would accrue. Of course this day can also be spent individually. Accommodation and dinner take place in Santiago.

23. Day: Departure

Definitely, the saddest day of the entire tour, as today you have to return to Germany. Of course our guide accompanies you to the airport. After the farewell you will head off home. But before you should fly again over Chile mentally. Interesting wide views of the Andes and the Amazona region offer us unique impressions and the trip gives you a lot of possibilities for new travel ideas and tour plans. We hope you enjoyed your special South American experience and that it won’t be your last one!

Further information

Special requirements
A good physical fitness is desired and a huge advantage.
Extension of the trip
We offer a wide choice of additional tour components that can be combined with this tour.

Additional information