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Atacama Desert & Northern Argentina (8 days / 7 nts)

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Places Visited:
v/   Atacama
v/   Salta
v/   Cafayate
v/   Cachi
v/   Purmamarca
Price from $1,280
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A self-drive around northern Chile and Argentina: Atacama, Moon Valley, Salta, Cafayate, Cachi and Purmamarca
Day 1:Arrive in Calama - San Pedro de Atacama (102 km / 63 mi)
Day 2:San Pedro de Atacama (Museum - Salt Flats - Moon valley) (100 km / 62 mi)
Day 3:San Pedro de Atacama (El Tatio and Puritama - 4.321 m/14.177 ft above sea level-) (94 km / 58 mi)
Day 4:San Pedro de Atacama - Salta (630 km / 392 mi)
Day 5:Salta - Cafayate (186 km / 116 mi)
Day 6:Cafayate - Cachi (162 km / 100 mi)
Day 7:Cachi - Purmamarca (337 km / 209 mi)
Day 8:Purmamarca - San Pedro Atacama - Fly out from Calama (550 km / 342 mi)


Hotels used in this tour
(hotels can be changed on request for most tours)
 SuperiorStandard
San Pedro de Atacama
Hotel Altiplanico, San Pedro de Atacama
Altiplanico
32 rooms
click to see Trip Advisor report
hotel site
Hotel Casa de Don Tomas, San Pedro de Atacama
Casa de Don Tomas
30 rooms
click to see Trip Advisor report
hotel site
Salta
Hotel Solar de la Plaza, Salta
Solar de la Plaza
30 rooms
click to see Trip Advisor report
hotel site
Hotel Del Virrey, Salta
Del Virrey
8 rooms
click to see Trip Advisor report
hotel site
Cafayate
Hotel Vinas de Cafayate, Cafayate
Vinas de Cafayate
12 rooms
click to see Trip Advisor report
hotel site
Hotel Los Sauces, Cafayate
Los Sauces
24 rooms
click to see Trip Advisor report
hotel site
Cachi
Hotel La Merced del Alto, Cachi
La Merced del Alto
14 rooms
click to see Trip Advisor report
hotel site
Hotel El Cortijo, Cachi
El Cortijo
12 rooms
click to see Trip Advisor report
hotel site
Purmamarca
Hotel El Manantial del Silencio, Purmamarca
El Manantial del Silencio
18 rooms
click to see Trip Advisor report
hotel site
Hotel La Comarca, Purmamarca
La Comarca
15 rooms
click to see Trip Advisor report
hotel site
Day 1:  Arrive in Calama - San Pedro de Atacama (102 km / 63 mi)
Upon arrival to Calama you will pick up your car to start your journey through the spectacular northern ends of Chile and Argentina. Your first destination will be San Pedro de Atacama. A quaint town which was the centre of a Palaeolithic culture that built impressive rock fortresses on the steep mountains encircling the green valley. It contrasts with the eerily silent landscape of the nearby Moon Valley with its tiny but beautiful salt ponds and the backdrop of snow-capped volcanoes. It is a unique experience to view the vast plain of salt crusts with its octagonal-shaped crystals and to admire the lagoons reflecting the towering volcanoes of the huge Atacama Salt Lake; a former inland sea formed millions of years ago and the surrounding landscape. Overnight in San Pedro de Atacama.
Day 2:  San Pedro de Atacama (Museum - Salt Flats - Moon valley) (100 km / 62 mi)
San Pedro de Atacama once was the centre of the Atacama civilization; the museum Padre le Paige in the centre of town has a collection of over 380.000 exhibits discovered in the area. We recommend visiting the Salar de Atacama, the largest of the Chilean salt lakes in the morning or early afternoon (100 km / 62 mi from San Pedro and then drive to the Moon Valley. The scenery of the Moon Valley at sunset is impressive and should not be missed. Overnight in San Pedro.

(Included meals: breakfast)
Day 3:  San Pedro de Atacama (El Tatio and Puritama - 4.321 m/14.177 ft above sea level-) (94 km / 58 mi)
After an early start (about 04:00 am) you will be able to visit the El Tatio Geysers, a geothermal field flanked by soaring Andean peaks at an altitude of 4.321 m /14.177 ft above sea level. At dawn, powerful spurts of steam shoot out of various blowholes. After your visit to the geysers, you will drive back to San Pedro; on your way you can visit the Hot Springs of Puritama to relax and warm up in the beautiful thermal baths. (As a suggestion we recommend to take a regular tour to visit el Tatio due to the always changing road conditions and the early departure that is required to visit them) Overnight in San Pedro.

(Included meals: breakfast)
Day 4:  San Pedro de Atacama - Salta (630 km / 392 mi)
Today you will cross the Chile and Argentina borders through the Jama International pass, from there you will head south to the beautiful city of Salta, a colonial city that has kept is essence despite the fact of its 400 years of history. Overnight in Salta.

(Included meals: breakfast)
Day 5:  Salta - Cafayate (186 km / 116 mi)
This day you will be travelling to the city of Cafayate, but first we recommend visiting the main highlights of Salta like the Cathedral Basílica, the San Francisco Church, the former Hernández House, now turned into the Museum of the City and the handcrafts market, the first one in the country. Leaving Salta, you can visit the towns of the Valley of Lerma until arriving at Quebrada de las Conchas (the Gorge of the Shells). This magnificent stone wall seems to jealously guard the vineyards of the Valley of Cafayate. The place has a special microclimate for the wine production; given the great thermal amplitude, the use of chemical products is not necessary and a truly organic production is obtained. Overnight in Cafayate.

(Included meals: breakfast)
Day 6:  Cafayate - Cachi (162 km / 100 mi)
Today you will travel to the ruins of the ancient human settlement of the Quilmes, the most famous archaeological site in the country. Quilmes is an ancient pre-Incan city which was inhabited between centuries IX and XVII. The site, built on a natural amphitheatre, offers an exceptional view of the valley, on the way you could also visit the Amaicha del valle museum. Drive back to Cafayate along Route 40 to the north following River Calchaqui to the charming town of Cachi crossing mountain landscapes with important archaeological sites and visiting on the way picturesque villages that are almost self sustainable. You will be able to purchase tasty homemade wines and jams among many other products. Animana, San Carlos, Angastaco, Molinos and Seclantas are some of the attractive towns. Cachi is considered a gem due to its environment and architecture. You can visit San Jose Church and the Archaeological Museum. Overnight in Cachi.

(Included meals: breakfast)
Day 7:  Cachi - Purmamarca (337 km / 209 mi)
Today you will leave Cachi, crossing the Lerma Valley and National Park Los Cardones, on your way to Salta, visiting Cerrillos, Pulares, Escoipe Gorge, Cuesta del Obispo at 3348m above sea level and Recta de Tin Tin. From Salta you have to take route RN 9 to the north, after 31 km / 19 mi you will reach the city of San Salvador de Jujuy, leaving this city and after 61 km / 38 mi the RN 9 meets with RN 52, you have to take RN 52 and only 4 km /2,5 mi you will reach the town of Purmamarca. The crafts market in the main square is a must-see. In the afternoon you can visit the amazingly coloured creeks of Tilcara (26 km / 16 mi) and Huamachuca (68 km / 42 mi). Overnight in Purmamarca.

(Included meals: breakfast)
Day 8:  Purmamarca - San Pedro Atacama - Fly out from Calama (550 km / 342 mi)
This morning you will have more time to appreciate the broad variety of colours this town offers and pay a visit to the truly astonishing Cerro de 7 Colores (the 7 Colours Hill). Afterwards you can start picking your way back to Chile. The Salinas Grandes on the way to the border are definitely worth a stop. You will pass through San Pedro one more time and continue on the Calama to drop off your car and catch your connecting flight.

(Included meals: breakfast)
 

Itinerary:

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Trip type:
  Private service
Departures:
   Daily