Santiago & Atacama Desert

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Oct 6th, 2018, 07:25 AM
  #1
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Santiago & Atacama Desert

Hello! I will be traveling to Santiago for a wedding (January 2019) and hoping to spend some time exploring the city as well as a few days in the Atacama desert. I have friends also going to the wedding, but I plan to travel alone unless our plans match up.

1. How long would you plan for this trip? I was thinking 2 days in Santiago (meeting friends one night here), 3 days in Atacama, 2 days back in Santiago (wedding is first night and flight home is the second night).
2. Does anyone have tour ideas in either of these areas? I would actually prefer to join group tours, but not necessary. A specific tour with a company that I could book before leaving would be great!
3. Any affordable hotels you recommend for a solo traveler?
4. Is this feasible for a young female traveling alone? Took Spanish a bit in college, but now hard to speak conversationally at this point.
5. Any other advice is very appreciated!

Last edited by colleen312; Oct 6th, 2018 at 07:27 AM.
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Oct 7th, 2018, 06:29 AM
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We only really passed through San Pedro en route from Bolivia/Argentina. We hadn’t booked anywhere to stay and did find it difficult to find any reasonably priced places on arrival. I would have a look on booking.com or similar to get an idea of prices and whats available. Tours out into the surrounding altiplano are very easy to organise on arrival but probably best to have an idea of what it is you want to see.

It is not a difficult place in which to travel even with limited Spanish you will be fine. From Santiago you will need to fly into Calama and get a bus to SPdeA. for somewhere a little closer to Santiago you could also consider Valaparaiso
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Oct 7th, 2018, 09:01 AM
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Thank you for your input crellston!
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Oct 7th, 2018, 11:28 AM
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You are welcome. Hopefully or resident Chile Expert, Huentutu will see this post and chip in.
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Oct 7th, 2018, 05:21 PM
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Hi there. Firstly, choose your lodging and book now. January is high season all over Chile both form local and foreign visitors. Last time I stayed at La Casa de Don Tomas. It was a while ago now and there are a lot more places to stay now. It was a mid-range price at the time and they offered tours as well. Now there is a lot of competition for companies running tours and most offer some sort of discount if you do all the tours with them. It used to be that you got a better price booking once there. Not sure if that is still the case (I am a bit rusty on this area of Chile!). If the night sky co-operated do take the spaceobs night sky tour. I was underwhelmed by the Tatio geysers but maybe getting up at 4 am had something to do with that! Best to look at some recent reviews for lodging and tours.

You will need a flight to Calama (Loa Airport) and a shuttle to San Pedro. There are a few shuttle companies operating and booking really isn't necessary. However, it is the return to the airport which is important. You want a round trip locked in as not all have an office in San Pedro. Transvip is the most reliable of the lot and you can book online and pay there. I saw someone said they require a local phone number so as soon as you have your lodging chosen book the shuttle using the lodging's phone number.

Santiago is lovely in January, less crowded and more relaxed. Days will be hot but evenings and nights cool off a lot. Since Chilean weddings can last into the wee hours, make sure you have some sort of wrap to put on in the evenings.
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