When visiting the desert-town of San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, you’ll first notice the myriad tour companies taking up every other street corner. While you absolutely won’t be able to see everything yourself without a tour, there is a definitely one very budget-friendly option I recommend: renting a bicycle.
I learned about this when looking at a guided biking tour to Laguna Cejar. The tour cost $50,000 Chilean Pesos (about $103). While expensive, I really wanted to see the lagoon, and am not a big fan of bus tours. When talking to a staff member at another travel agency, however, I was shown a map and informed I could bike there and back in about five hours myself.
Looking at the map, I saw tons of interesting sites that were bikeable. While I would only recommend Laguna Cejar for the truly fit, as it’s about 31 miles round trip with some stretches of rough terrain and sand, places like Pukara de Quitor, an ancient Indian fortress from over 700 years ago, Death Valley, an area of unworldly sand dunes and rock formations, Catarpe Valley, with ravines and an ancient Inca church, and the Village of Tulor, an old archaeological site with ancient ruins are a few examples of possibilities. Personally, I rode the bike to the Quitor Area, and then backtracked a bit to visit Tulor, which has amazing landscape.
Renting a bike will cost about $8 for six hours, or $14 for the entire day. If you want to set out before 10:00 am, which I highly recommend due to the intense sun, you can pickup the bike the night before.