The Director of World Journeys reports on the Atacama Desert



Go back to the e-newsletter >

The World Journeys Director, Chris Lyons, is currently in Chile for the Adventure Travel World Summit, and reports on his experience in the Atacama Desert.

“From the air the Atacama Desert resembles the surface of Mars we have all become so familiar with. The driest place on earth, the land reflects many beautiful hues of orange, red and yellow, dotted with volcanoes and high mountains of the Andes chain. After a flight of nearly 2 hours north from Santiago, you arrive in the dusty mining town of Calama which is the jumping off point for the main tourist destination of San Pedro de Atacama, situated about 75 minutes driving time from Calama.

“Here in San Pedro, there are a number of excellent resorts with world class cuisine that cater for visitors wanting to explore the amazing countryside. These resorts offer a selection of sightseeing tours (included). There is no question that you should stay at least three nights in San Pedro, though I recommend four! Top of most people’s list will be a visit to the El Tatio geyser field, 3rd largest in the world. This can be visited either from San Pedro or perhaps included in a trip to the remarkable Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia.

“Indeed the Chilean-Bolivian border is only about 40 km from El Tatio and less than three hours drive from San Pedro. To visit El Tatio, we left the hotel early travelling through towering volcanoes, some still active. We saw herds of grazing llama, vicuna, foxes and some ‘whistling rabbits’ as well the Andean Gull and endangered Andean Geese. There are also impressive cacti that grow only in altitudes above 3000 metres, but would likely not look at all out of place in a Western movie set in the blazing hot deserts of Arizona!

“On arrival at El Tatio admire an extensive range of geysers before a picnic breakfast. Sunrise is the best time to visit as the area offers the most impressive displays of steam ejected into the air. The Valley of the Moon with its impressive terracotta hued canyon etched out by millennia of wind and water, is easily accessible from San Pedro. I highly recommend the late afternoon tour, when the sun begins to sink in the desert sky, the colours are extraordinary!

“Another ‘must see’ are the salt lakes with three different species of flamingo! It seems incongruous that these graceful birds should live at such high altitude but they manage to thrive on shrimp that live in the brackish water. Parts of these lakes are pure white as the build-up of salt is bleached in the sun, which shines almost all the time. Another by-product of the clear skies happens at night, a tremendous display of stars. With help from the hotel’s resident astronomy expert through a telescope I was able to see the rings of Saturn!

“San Pedro de Atacama itself is a quaint and somewhat low-key tourist town with a nice vibe and an attractive church. There are some very good restaurants and excellent bars along the one main street, interspersed with tourist souvenir shops. I would recommend taking the hotel shuttle into town one evening and soaking up the atmosphere, enjoying a pisco sour, the national cocktail of Chile. I was very impressed by the dramatic scenery this area offers, a landscape so very different from our own.”

World Journeys offer two itineraries to see the Atacama Desert, a 7 day Santiago to La Paz – Atacama & the Uyuni Salt Flats priced from $5,055 per person share twin and a 4 or 5 day Sensational Atacama priced from $2,370 per person share twin.

World Journeys is also offering the following:

Free nights in East Africa

World Journeys have Stay/Pay deals on the Elewana Collection of luxury safari lodges and camps in Kenya and Tanzania.  Stay 4/Pay 3, Stay 6/Pay 4 or Stay 10/Pay 7 deals (Park fees are still payable) are available at top safari camps including Elsa’s Kopje, Joy’s Camp, and Elephant Pepper Camp in Kenya, which are featured in World Journeys’ 11-day Adamson’s Footsteps itinerary.  World Journeys also have 2 for 1 deals, when staying 7 nights, at AfroChic and Kilindi, both boutique beach hotels in Kenya and Tanzania. Both deals are valid on new bookings only until the end of May 2016, when booked and deposited by 30 November 2015. World Journeys’ Director Ange Pirie personally visited many of these properties on a recent product trip and is able to personally recommend specific properties to match client needs.

Free flights to the Galapagos

World Journeys are offering free return flights to the Galapagos Islands from mainland Ecuador for all new bookings of any duration departing before 31 December 2015 aboard cruises of the MV Santa Cruz, Yacht Isabela II or the Yacht La Pinta. To get to the Galapagos, fly to one of its two airports from either Guayaquil or Quito. Once aboard, small groups embark on wildlife exploration designed to see unique fauna, giant Galapagos tortoises, iguanas, blue-footed boobies and the famous Darwin’s finches. Offer available on all sailings in 2015, of any duration. Expeditions on La Pinta start from $3,900 per person share twin.

Go back to the e-newsletter >

Comments are closed.

WP to LinkedIn Auto Publish Powered By :