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19-day Mountaineering Expedition in Atacama with summit on Ojos del Salado

Chilean IFMGA certified guide Carlos Vasquez takes you on an incredible journey through the natural and archaeological wonders of the Atacama Desert.

Mountain RangeAndes
Duration19 days
Offer periodJan, Feb, Mar, Nov, Dec
Skill LevelIntermediate
Fitness LevelFit
Type of tripGroup

Highlights

  • Explore the immensity of the Atacama Desert and her starry skies

  • Reach the summit of the world's tallest Volcano: Ojos del Salado (6883m)

  • Discover the flora and fauna of the Altiplano in northern Chile

Description

Discover the hidden gems of the Atacama Desert on this 19-day mountaineering expedition. We will climb to the top of Ojos del Salado (6883m), the world’s tallest volcano, and swim in the Pacific Ocean. In between, we will discover the many wonders of this arid landscape in northern Chile. You can’t possibly imagine all that the Atacama has in store for you.

Often dismissed as a dry and desolate land, the Atacama Desert is filled with natural and archaeological marvels that you can’t find anywhere else. While it may not be the most hospitable place on Earth, the Atacama Desert has much to offer travelers and mountaineers alike.

Our journey will take us to rocks carved with pre-Columbian petroglyphs and ancient stone fortresses such as Pucará de Quitor. As we pass through the isolated towns and villages that dot the driest desert on Earth, we will observe the traditional architecture of the Chilean Altiplano. We will also have a chance to see the more touristy side of things in centrally located San Pedro de Atacama.

In addition to reaching the summit of Ojos del Salado, we will visit the many other natural phenomena that make the Atacama Desert so unique. On our first day, for example, we will visit the otherworldly Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley). Later on, we will watch in awe as hot steam is released from the ground at El Tatio, the third largest geyser in the world. We will also visit the nearby Geyser Blanco and soak leisurely in the Puritama Hot Springs.

Our adventures will also take us across the border into neighboring Bolivia where will climb the Licancabur Volcano (5970m). We will spend two nights at the Licancabur Hut and summit the volcano in between. Additionally, we will visit the Pacific Ocean on two occasions and camp on the beach in the Pan de Azúcar National Park. On our final day, we will travel south to Bahía Inglesa and celebrate with a fresh seafood feast. This is sure to be the culinary highlight of the trip.

Throughout this entire expedition, we will be under the wide open sky of the Atacama Desert. At night, the sky here fills with stars unlike anywhere else on the planet. There is simply no better place in the world for stargazing than the Atacama Desert. During our treks, we will also have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the native flora and fauna of the Altiplano. More than likely, we will observe vicuñas, vizcachas, llamas and Alpacas in their natural habitat.

While this is a mountaineering expedition, cultural and touristic activities will be interspersed with trekking throughout the trip. There will be plenty of time to relax and enjoy, but please keep in mind that reaching the summit of Ojos del Salado requires you to be physically fit. Ideally, you should have some prior mountaineering experience as well.

The ascent on Ojos del Salado itself will take us approximately 7 hours. Along the way, we will traverse a snowfield and endure a brief climb (Class 4) before reaching the top of this sacred peak in the Altiplano. The panoramic views from above will leave you speechless.

There is so much to explore in the immense Atacama Desert. Our summit on the world’s tallest volcano will be just one of the many highlights of this one-of-a-kind expedition. Nineteen days may not be enough to see everything, but I promise you will walk away in awe of what we discover here in the Altiplano.

To get in touch with me or reserve your spot on one of my upcoming tours (see dates below), please click on “Request to book”. I always travel with small groups and maintain a low 3:1 participant to guide ratio on this expedition.

In addition to this 19-day expedition, I also offer several shorter trips here in Atacama. You can join me for a 4-day Trek along Río Salado, or a 2-day Mountaineering Expedition on the Licancabur Volcano in Bolivia. To view all of my available trips, please click here to view my complete profile.

Accommodation

We will stay in hotels, mountain huts and tents throughout this expedition.

Meeting point

Santiago, Chile

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Photos


Itinerary

Day 1: Santiago - Calama - San Pedro de Atacama

  • Transfer from your accommodation in Santiago to the International Airport (SCL)
  • Flight from Santiago to Calama (2 hours)
  • Ground transfer from Calama to San Pedro de Atacama
  • Visit the cavernas de sal (Salt Caves) and the Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) at sunset
  • Dinner in San Pedro de Atacama
  • Overnight at hotel in San Pedro de Atacama

Day 2: Trekking Río Salado - Petroglifos (2700m)

  • Transfer to Pucará de Quitor, a pre-Columbian stone fortress and starting point for our trek
  • 3-4 hours acclimatization trek along the Río Salado
  • Set up camp at the Petroglifos, or “petroglyphs”, where ancient drawings are carved into rock

Day 3: Trekking Río Salado - Río Grande (3200m)

  • 6-8 hour trek along the Río Salado Divide
  • Visit to antique church typical of the Altiplano in Aimara de Río Grande
  • Overnight at the Hostal de Indígenas in Río Grande

Day 4: Trekking Río Grande - Machuca (4000m)

  • 6-8 hour trek along the Río Grande
  • Sightings of fauna typical of the Altiplano:  vicuñas, vizcachas ,llamas, alpacas and native bird species
  • Overnight at Geiser Blanco, a geyser and thermal hot springs

Day 5: Trekking Geiser Blanco - Soquete Volcano (5400m)

  • Summit on the Soquete Volcano (5400m) via the “normal route” (6-8 hours)
  • Overnight at Geiser Blanco

Day 6: Trekking Geiser Blanco - Geiser Tatio (4400m) plus Puritama Hot Springs

  • Visit to Geiser Tatio, an impressive geyser field
  • Soak in the thermal hot springs in Puritama
  • Return transfer to San Pedro de Atacama
  • Dinner and overnight at hotel in San Pedro

Day 7: San Pedro - Salar de Atacama

  • Transfer from San Pedro to the Salar de Atacama salt flats
  • Visit the Lagunas Altiplánicas (4200m) and the town of Socaire
  • Return transfer to San Pedro and overnight at hotel

Day 8: San Pedro - Licancabur Hut (4700m)

  • Border crossing into Bolivia
  • Transfer to the Licancabur Hut (4700m) and the Laguna Verde
  • Overnight at the hut

Day 9: Summit on the Licancabur Volcano (5970m)

  • Wake and breakfast at 4:00AM
  • Trek to the summit of the Licancabur Volcano (5970m)
  • Descent and overnight in the hut

Day 10: Lincancabur Hut - San Pedro (2600m)

  • Return transfer to Chile
  • Free time to shop and enjoy touristy San Pedro
  • Dinner and overnight at hotel in San Pedro

Day 11: San Pedro - Pan de Azúcar National Park

  • Transfer (in 4×4 vehicle) to the Pacific Coast
  • Pan de Azúcar National Park
  • Fresh seafood barbecue beside the ocean
  • Camp on the beach within the national park

Day 12: Pan de Azucár - Ojos del Salado Base Camp - Laguna Verde (4700m)

  • Trek to the Laguna Verde (4700m) and the Ojos del Salado Base Camp
  • Overnight at the base camp

Day 13: Laguna Verde - Atacama Hut (5200m)

  • Trek through sand to our first high altitude base camp on Ojos del Salado
  • Overnight at the Atacama Hut

Day 14: Atacama Hut - Tejos Hut (5940m)

  • 4 hour ascent to the Tejos Hut
  • Overnight at the hut

Day 15: Summit on Ojos del Salado (6883m)

  • 7 hour ascent from the hut to the top of Ojos del Salado (6883m)
  • Descent and overnight at the Tejos Hut

Day 16: Extra day

I have scheduled an extra day into our itinerary in case we need to delay our ascent on Ojos del Salado due to inclement weather conditions.

Day 17: Laguna Verde - Pan de Azúcar

  • Transfer back to the Pacific Ocean
  • Fresh seafood barbecue and free time to enjoy water
  • Overnight in the national park

We may also be able to take a walk along the coast to discover native flora and fauna such as Humboldt penguins.

Day 18: Pan de Azúcar - Bahía Inglesa

  • Transfer along the Pacific Coast to Bahía Inglesa (200 kilometers)
  • Free time to enjoy the ocean
  • Fresh seafood “end of trip” celebration dinner
  • Overnight at hotel in Bahía Inglesa

Day 19: Bahía Inglesa - Copiapo - Santiago

  • Transfer to the Atacama Desert Airport (CPO) in Copiapo
  • Return flight to Santiago


About the guide

guide profile img

IFGMA/UIAGM Guide from Chile

I have extensive experience guiding in the Andes and Europe. I am a resident in Chile, Spain and Chamonix. I am very sociable and motivated. I am always available for projects in the mountains.


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Prices per person

Group of 1

EUR 7217 each

Group of 2

EUR 4640 each

Group of 3

EUR 4124 each

Group of 4

EUR 3609 each

Group of 5

EUR 3299 each

Group of 6

EUR 2990 each

Want a different number of travellers?

Price includes

• Guiding fee

• Accommodation

• Transport during the trip

• Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Price details

• Hotel stays in San Pedro and Bahía Inglesa are included. All meals are included, but please keep in mind that drinks at the restaurants are not included in the price of this expedition.


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