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It´s nice not having to worry about the weather when planning a trip to the Atacama desert. A long, thing, almost lifeless plain stretching from the southern tip of Peru down through northern Chile, parts of the Atacama haven´t seen a drop of rain since record keeping began. It´s the driest place on Earth, and while this may make farming and maintaining moist lips a difficult task, it also makes for an archeologist´s and astronomers paradise. Everything that enters the Atacama Desert and doesn´t leave is preserved in time there for thousands of years, from plant life to people. On top of this, the perfect clear skies have led to the construction of several observatories, from which astronomers and tourists can probe the depths of the cosmos.
Opening out a tourist map of San Pedro de Atacama is like opening out a map of Disneyland. As the horizon to the east is painted with the white-capped peaks of the Andes. There is a huge range of spectacular natural wonders in the area, including moon-like valleys, majestic high plateau lagoons, steaming geysers, 20,000 feet high volcanoes and a lake saltier than the Dead Sea. The town of San Pedro itself is no more than a handful of adobe streets winding around a picturesque oasis. Yet over the past decade the tourist infrastructure has developed impressively and the town now offers hotels and restaurants to fulfill the most basic to luxurious desires.
San Pedro de Atacama is hot and dry 12 months of the year, though temperatures to drop drastically at night.
Buses and jeeps drive to San Pedro from all over central and northern Chile as well as from the Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia and Jujuy and Salta in northern Argentina.
Planes fly to the nearby large town of Calama, 1 hour and 20 minutes from San Pedro.