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A Budget-Friendly Way To Experience San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

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.

Death Valley

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.

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5 Comments

  1. Elise Walsh on April 29, 2012 at 7:43 am

    Stunning views, budget friendly, and Chile. Thanks for the bicycle advice.

  2. DANILO KAID on December 28, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    Loved your tips!
    I was really looking forward the possibility of doing San Pedro on a budget and riding a bike, which is my passion…

    • Jessie Festa on December 28, 2015 at 1:43 pm

      @Danilo: I did some biking there. Tough at times, but wow, such beautiful landscapes!

  3. Clare Willis on May 31, 2016 at 12:57 am

    Thanks so much, Jessie, I’m really enjoying your tips as I travel around South America – the budget options are very much appreciated! Awesome work, cheers 🙂

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