Chile is home to the amazingly beautiful yet out-of-this-world landscapes in the Atacama desert at San Pedro de Atacama. Not only does the driest place on Earth offer such spectacular scenery, it also has very out-of-this-world activities; home to the Astronomy and Scientific research base of the European Southern Observatory
Out of this World Landscapes
One of the direst places on Earth, you can read all about it in my Guest Post here with the Global Grasshopper.
The Atacama desert is the perfect place on earth to study the wonders of outer space. Because of its high elevation this brings clear, dry and dark skies. The European Southern Observatory (ESO) operates seven telescopes from its base in Paranal. These include the Very large Telescope (VLT).
The observatory offers Guided Tours on weekends only and requires car hire to get there and back. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to fit this into my itinerary, but it makes into my wishlist.
For any 007 James Bond fans, this is the filming location for the finale of the 2008 Quantum of Solace film starring Daniel Craig. The hotel in the film is actually the “ESO Hotel” which is an accommodation and food facility for the scientists working at the observatory.
San Pedro de Atacama Desert Map
Where is San Pedro de Atacama? How do I fly there?
Flying here from Santiagio, lands you in Calama, which is a 2 hour shared taxi or bus ride to the tourist hub of San Pedro de Atacama.
Are there things to do in San Pedro de Atacama?
San Pedro is like any other non-descriptive traveller base; hostels, restaurants, tour agencies and even a North Face shop! From here, it is very easy to make bookings on to day trips; one by tour bus which will cover all the local sights such as Laguana Chaxa and Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon). And a second day trip sharing a 4×4 upto the El Tatio geyser field. Going by 4×4 is quicker than the tourist buses so gets you up there first.