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Atacama Desert: Fact file


When to go

As this is one of the driest areas in the world, the weather is more or less the same all year round. Nights are cooler in winter, especially Jul.

Language

Spanish.

Getting local currency

Chilean Peso. Bring your local currency needs from a larger town, where notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs using a UK credit or debit card. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows.

Time difference

GMT -4 hours. Sometimes daylight saving is observed in the summer, from Sep/Oct to early Mar.  

Getting there

Fly from Santiago to Calama (2 hours) then it’s a 2 hour road journey (104 km) to San Pedro.

Combines with

The Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia, usually visited on a 3-day package by 4WD; La Serena and the Elqui Valley, 1.5 hours by air from Calama, a hour drive from San Pedro; Lauca National Park near the northern border, 800 km.

Key events

The feast day of Saints Peter and Paul:  24 Jun. The entire village of San Pedro joins in the celebrations with processions.

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