Atacama virtual: English

The Atacama Desert, Chile

The Atacama Region: Travel instructions

Museo Virtual, Chile

W. Griem, 2006 - 2021

Buses traveling at Atacama, Chile

Photo: Race of the buses in the Atacama Desert.

The Panamericana Highway nearby Copiapó

Photo: The Atacama Desert - here the entrance of Copiapó.

Travel instructions: Atacama

español /deutsch / english

Useful information:

Almost all known airlines fly to Chile: LanChile, Lufthansa, British Airways and many more (very good: Lan Chile and Air France). Many of them arrive in Santiago de Chile,  others require a change-over at Sao Paolo. To Copiapó you can get by airplane (LanChile, and others) or by bus. The bus takes about 12 hours. There are salon Cama (very good), Semi Cama and "Ejecutivo". Salon Cama and Semi Cama is very comfortable, there are drinks and something to eat. Normally they drive at night, and the next morning they arrive in Copiapó. The day trip in normal buses is a bit more strenuous, but you drive through beautiful landscapes that are slowly losing their green. The entire stretch from Santiago to Copiapó is four-lane (motorway) developed.

Bus companies:
Libac (without TV, Salon Cama, Terminal del Norte Stgo.), Pullman, TurBus and many others, some of them have "Premio Cama" on offer, here you can really sleep like in bed. Mostly there are 6 of these beds on the lower floor, but it is correspondingly expensive (about 50.000 pesos).

By plane you can reach Copiapó comfortably in 1 1/2 hours and have a very interesting flight along the Cordillera.
From Santiago a window seat should be booked at the right side of the plane.

Car rental:
Car rental is common and widespread. This can be done in Santiago or Copiapó. There are a variety of providers (Hertz, Europcar etc.), jeeps and pickups (= camionetas) can also be rented. This is recommended for mountain tours. You just have to get used to the dimensions and driving characteristics.
Unfortunately, cars are no longer driven as they were in the 80s here in Chile - during this time only a defensive driving style was tolerated and practiced. Unfortunately, a "European style" can now be found. But beware: there are many (quantities) of traffic controls, as the penalties here should often be clearly painful:
● Always light on (day and night)
● Do not exceed maximum speed (not 1 km/hour) normal is a general maximum speed of 100 km/h.
● Always have your driver's license and car papers with you (ALWAYS!!!!)
● Only overtake if allowed and possible
● There are few petrol stations, there are easily 200 kilometers without a petrol station possible, even on the Pan-Americana.
● Into the mountains, always drive with full tank and spare tank.
● There are many well-developed but little trafficked roads: Be careful, there are always stones etc. on the road.
● Never drive over boards or wood: Has nails.
● Never try to give the policemen money - this is not usual in Chile, will be severely punished.
● The traffic rules are almost the same as in continental Europe, there are hardly any differences to notice.

Overnight stay:
In Copiapó Vallenar, Caldera, Bahía Inglesa, Huasco, El Salvador, Diego de Almagro and Chañaral there is a good choice of accommodation. In the larger cities you can choose between all price and performance classes. For the cheapest category, approximately 20,000 pesos (US$12 per person (single room/night) must be estimated. For the more expensive (and better) hotels, it is necessary to calculate between 35,000 and 120,000 pesos (single room / person / night). Double rooms are much cheaper for one person. Generally, a hotel in the price range of 35,000 pesos offers a good standard.

The following price list can only be used as a guide for orientation. Prices may vary according to the season. The conversion into euros was carried out by the factor: 740 Chilean pesos correspond to about 1 euro.

Product Price in Pesos Chil. Price in Euro (1 Euro/ 740 pesos)
1 litre petrol (Super unleaded) 500 0,70 Euro
Bus journey within Copiapó 500 0,70 Euro
Bus journey Caldera-Copiapó 3000 4,00 Euro
1 beer in the supermarket (1 litre) 1.200 1,62 Euro
A good meal in the restaurant /p. person 10.000 13,50 Euro
Bus "Salón Cama" Copiapó - Santiago 28.000 38,00 Euro
Car rental per day (without gasoline) 40.000 54,00 Euro
1 Kg apples 1.300 1,75 Euro
1 Kg bread 1.000 1,35 Euro
Version: 2016
Prices can only be used as a guide - differences can occur (seasons, exchange rates, oil prices) - in times of good copper prices, much higher prices must be expected.

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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