About 10 km (6 miles) south of San Pedro you arrive at the edge of Chile's largest salt flat. The rugged crust measuring 3,000 square km (1,158 square miles) formed when salty water flowing down from the Andes evaporated in the stifling heat of the desert. Unlike other salt flats, which are smooth surfaces of crystalline salt, the Salar de Atacama is a jumble of jagged rocks that look rather like coral. Laguna Chaxa, in the middle of Salar de Atacama, is a very
salty lagoon that is home to three of the New World's four species of flamingos. The elegant pink-and-white birds are mirrored by the lake's glassy surface. Near Laguna Chaxa, beautiful plates of salt float on the calm surface of Laguna Salada. Visiting the salar is a half-day excursion from San Pedro and often better at sunset when the sky can paint pretty pink colors, reflected in the mirror-like lagoons. Bring your binoculars for flamingo observing.
Laguna Chaxa, San Pedro de Atacama, 1410000, Chile