Planning Your Time

You'll have to hustle to see much of El Norte Grande in less than a week. You should spend at least two days in San Pedro de Atacama, visiting the incredible sights such as the bizarre moonscape of the Valle de la Luna and the desolate salt flats of the Salar de Atacama. For half a day soak in the hot springs in the tiny town of Pica, then head to the nitrate ghost town of Humberstone. On the way to Iquique, take a side trip to the Gigante de Atacama, the world's largest geoglyph. After a morning exploring Iquique, head up to Arica, the coastal town that bills itself as the "land of eternal spring." Be sure to visit the Museo Arqueológico de San Miguel de Azapa to see the Chinchorro mummies. Stop in Putre to catch your breath before taking in the flamingos at Parque Nacional Lauca or the vicuñas, llamas, and alpacas of Reserva Nacional Las Vicuñas.

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