Atacama virtual: English

The Atacama desert, Chile

 Behavior in the desert

Museo Virtual, Chile

W. Griem, 2006 - 2021

Road into the Atacama desert of northern Chile

Photo: The Atacama desert near Merceditas in the Atacama region.

Information Photo:
Camera Canon 50D | Lens: 17-70mm | Focal length: 70mm | =35mm: 111mm  | Shutter speed: 1:100 | ISO100
F: f/9 | Original size: 4752 x 3168 | Date: 2012/02/10/16:34 hrs.

The Atacama desert of northern Chile

Photo: The Atacama Desert in Chile near Inca de Oro.

Information Photo:
Cámara Canon 50D | Lens: 17-70mm | Focal length: 70mm | equi.35mm: 111mm | Shutter speed: 1:320 | ISO100
F: f/8 | Original size: 4752 x 3168 | Date: 2012/02/08/13:30 hrs.

Behavior in the desert

español /deutsch / english

Precautions in the desert:

Only use signposted, developed paths. Prefer frequent roads. If possible, travel with two vehicles. Inform yourself about the condition of the vehicle (reserve tyres, cooling water, brake fluid, etc.).
Communicate the itinerary with your hotel, police or friends and arrange a time of return.
Jeeps or pick-ups (camionetas) are a prerequisite in the areas of the cordillera.
Always provide a sufficient amount of drinking water (min. 3 litres per person per day and several canisters of tap water) and food; it is recommended to take more than enough to be supplied in case of a car breakdown or an accident.
Observe the weather and give the advice of the police and the national park guards.
Driving on gravel roads at a reasonable speed, always be prepared for unforeseeable situations (erosion grooves, large stones, wooden parts, etc.).

Because of the high solar radiation, always wear a hat and sunglasses and use sunscreen with a high sun protection factor.

At altitudes above 3000 m, think of the lack of oxygen. If possible, travel in stages at high altitudes to get used to the decreasing oxygen content of the breathing air. Do not go up from 0 m to 4500 m in one day. Take into account breaks during startup and shutdown.
At higher altitudes, there is almost always severe night frost (-15°C): warm clothing, a good tent and good sleeping bags are essential. Therefore, think of antifreeze protection for the radiator of the car.

It is obviously important that the wildlife is not deliberately disturbed, that no rubbish is left lying around and that no plants are plucked.

The Atacama Desert can generally be described as a peaceful and safe excursion area. There are no dangerous animals or other problems except for one exception. Only in some areas you should be aware of a bug (Vinchuca). Some Vinchucas are considered to be carriers of Chagas disease. But the Vinchuca bug does not live in all areas, not all are infected and it is relatively large. Normally there are no problems, but for security reasons the tent should not be able to provide access to the bug. (See photo and info about the Vinchuca)

These advices should be followed, but on the other hand a trip to the high cordillera is not an incalculable risk, for many people these roads are the normal way to work (gold and copper mines, road construction etc.).

Any new publication not authorized by the authors is expressly prohibited. This applies in particular to electronic publications:  Usage guidelines.
If you have old photos or other (historical) material of the Atacama region, we would be very pleased to implement this in our pages: Contact

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Published: 17.9.2017; updated: 17.9.2017, 30.01.2021
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