In the great North of Chile you can find the most arid desert in the world, Atacama. In the middle of it, there is the magic town of San Pedro de Atacama, the archeological centre of Chile. At an altitude of 2.438 m. a. s. l. (around 8.000 feet), it is surrounded by high peaks and volcanoes of the Andes and Domeyko mountain ranges.
Several attractions, such as Moon and Death Valley, the Salt Flat of Atacama, Highland lagoons and the Tatio geysers have made it famous worldwide, and the epicentre of tourist activities in the North of Chile.
This is where we were born. We are an association of indigenous ecotourism formed by members of the Lickan Antay ethnic group who will happily open our homes to you and share with you our beliefs and lifestyle. Here you will shepherd, handcraft, plant, irrigate; participate in caravans with us, just as one of us. Besides, we will invite you to astronomy excursions, religious and custom festivals, and much more!
So be kindly welcomed to experience the ancient culture of the most extreme desert in the world.
We can offer you rooms with private or shared bathrooms, in the houses of local families, with breakfast included. Remember that the accommodations we offer are located in different towns or oases.
We are mainly farmers and shepherds, so our days come and go irrigating our fields, taking our animals to good grasslands and preparing our delicious traditional products!
We would kindly appreciate support in:- Infrastructure and equipment improvement for rooms, bathrooms and dining rooms and animal corrals (birds, pigs, lambs and rabbits).- Infrastructure for the reception house in Vilama (near the water-mill) – Support on honey production- New cooking techniques
Ancestral Caravan. 3 hours trekking (easy) in which you’re invited to meet Sandra who shepherds lamas. It’s a unique experience walking along ancestral routes, visiting archaeological sites filled with artifacts such as ceramic and stone tools and enjoying the life of the lama caravan in the magical setting of both oasis and desert, in the Ayllu of Coyo.
Community trail. Learn about the way of life of the community in the Ayllu of Coyo, sharing the daily activities of the local inhabitants : production of pataska (a type of corn), preparation of chañar and garob arrope (local beverages), lama breeding and handicraft making. You will enjoy walking through alleys, trails and irrigation canals around the oasis and its scenic views.
Andean Astronomy. The Atacamenian inhabitants managed most of their agricultural matters by using their knowledge of the stars and constellations. Learn about the importance of astronomy in the words of a local guide and with traditional tools to watch the skies.
Vilama Water-mill. Visit the old mill of Vilama (another oasis) where just one person (Mr. Clemente) has preserved the milling tradition alive. He will teach you, step by step, how this water-mill works with wheat, corn, etc. You will also visit the abandoned village of Vilama, very important years ago because of the sulfur processing plant.
Other Activities. We also offer you all the typical astonishing excursions of Atacama!!!
Write to. Gregorio Ildefonso (coordinator)
Web Site: www.ecoredturismo.com
Destination Overview. Our association is formed by 27 members who united to strengthen our entrepreneurships, generate jobs for local people and preserve and promote the development of our culture, values and nature. We also look to strengthen our community spirit and participation, especially through capacity-building and specialization.
How to get There.
By plane. Planes to Calama (Lan and Sky airlines) and then transfers to San Pedro de Atacama from the airport.
By bus. There are Tur-bus buses heading for San Pedro de Atacama from Santiago. If you get to Calama, there are 4 regular companies with departures to San Pedro de Atacama: Tur-bus, Intertrans, Frontera and Atacama 2000 (the last two have offices very close to each other in Calama). If you’re travelling in Intertrans buses, for a small fee (around CHI$ 1.000; equivalent to 2 USD) they will take you directly to the different oases.
There are other companies that have departures twice a week to San Pedro: Géminis and Pullman. You can catch these buses either in Antofagasta, Calama or even in Salta (Argentina).
Weather. We have sunny, warm days all year round. In January however you might find occasional heavy rain during the afternoons. This is called the “Altiplanic winter”. Nights are normally cool but between May and September they can be freezing cold!
What do I have to take to visit the place. The sun is not a game here. UV conditions are normally dangerous so bring strong sun block, sun glasses and long sleeves. As nights are cool and the Altiplano can be very cold, bring appropiate clothes for low temperatures (in the Tatio geysers you might experience negative temperatures as low as -20°C).
Payments and Currencies. Currency here is the Chilean Peso. There are several money exchange offices and two cash machines in town. But those machines might run out of money, so always save some cash!
- Electricity; yes, permanently.
- Water; Not recommended. All grocery stores sell water, the bigger the bottle, the cheaper.
- Internet; There are many Internet cafés in town.
- Phone/Cell; Cell phone signal in the oases.
- Health Services; There is an emergency dispensary in town. Hospital in Calama.
- Restaurants; Lots of restaurants all around town.
- Grocery stores; There are many in town and some in the surrounding oases.
Languages spoken. Spanish.
Hazards. Just exposure to the sun.