San Pedro de Atacama

November 2022

After visiting Lauca National Park, we set off for San Pedro de Atacama. We spend about a week there, enjoying the relatively good tourist infrastructure, the impressive starry sky and the desert landscape of the Valle de la Luna.

San Pedro de Atacama

Not far from the Bolivian border, San Pedro is located in the middle of the driest desert in the world, the Atacama Desert. This small village is a popular tourist destination with a good selection of hotels, restaurants and cafés. It suits us perfectly for a short break in our trip, especially after Bolivia and the Lauca National Park, where the infrastructure was rather rudimentary. We enjoy a quite time and the start of the World Cup under a radiant sun and summer temperatures. In our hostal, we meet a several travelers, including the friendly Kurt from Lucerne, who left his job many years ago and travels around nine months a year since then.

Around San Pedro, there are countless natural treasures to visit. Since we have already crossed many similar landscapes in Bolivia and our main goal here is to relax, we deliberately choose only two excursions from the wide range of options. Stargazing and a visit to the lunar landscape of Valle de la Luna.

Our highlights

Estrella Negra


La Casona

Roots Cafe Pizza

Emporio Andino

Salon De Té O2

Cervecería St. Peter


With over 300 clear sky nights per year and thanks to the absence of light pollution and its location at over 2’400 meters above sea level, the Atacama Desert is one of the best places in the world for stargazing. That’s why so many providers offer stargazing tours in San Pedro. We decide to pay a visit to the famous French astronomer Alain Maury, who has set up the largest publicly accessible telescope park in South America on his land just outside San Pedro.

After a fast-paced and humorous astronomy crash course in Alain’s cozy living room, we head outside to see the stars. The night is clear, pitch black, and the stars are shining brightly in the sky. Alain explains that it is possible to see 6’000 of them with the naked eye. Using his ultra-powerful laser, he points out a few of them in the sky. Now it’s time to use the telescopes pointing at different planets and constellations. We can observe, among others, Saturn and its characteristic rings, as well as Jupiter, Mars and the Tarantula Nebula.

Valle de la Luna

15 kilometers west of San Pedro, in the Atacama Desert, lies the Valley of the Moon. Its name is no coincidence: in this arid desert landscape, one could almost feel like they were on the moon. Sculpted by wind and water, rough rock formations and perfectly shaped sand dunes have been formed over centuries in this hostile climate.

During a short walk through the dunes, we gain some elevation to better appreciate this unique scenery. Our guide, very enthusiastic about geology, improvises a fascinating little lecture. Somewhat frantically but with great passion, he draws the relief of the Andes in the sand, from the coast to the Altiplano, and teaches us more about the formation and climate of the Andes.

At the end of the day, we undoubtedly experience one of the finest moments of this tour: the impressive sunset over the Valle de la Luna, which we are lucky to witness from a hilltop with a magnificent view.

Our highlights

Walk on the dunes

Lunar landscape

Sand dunes

Rock formations