San Pedro de Atacama seems much too small to absorb the throngs of tourists attracted here by the weird and wonderful scenery of the surrounding area but it does. Every backpacker in northern Chile seems to pass through here, and San Pedro de Atacama hostels welcome them.
San Pedro de Atacama hostels are plentiful and within reach of some of Chile’s most fantastic landscapes, from the world’s highest geyser field (at 4300m in altitude), to the desolate reaches of the high altiplano, to the country’s largest salt flat, dotted with lakes and pink flamingos. You can swim in a tiny lake saltier than the Dead Sea, bask in thermal springs, gaze at the astounding display of stars from the desert observatory, or simply wander the town’s dusty streets and soak in the atmosphere. The town is also a frequent jumping-off point for tours into Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia, another favorite tourist destination.
Like any tourist hub, San Pedro suffers from higher costs than its neighboring cities, persistent vendors, and a glut of half-hearted tour operators. But with a bit of effort, you can find charming cafes to wile away an afternoon, laidback bars to enjoy a chilled bottle of cerveza, and excellent tour companies that are well worth their money.
Most buses arrive in San Pedro de Atacama from across the Argentine border, and will stop at the border post at the edge of town. From here, the small size of the town means it’s an easy walk to the plethora of San Pedro de Atacama hostels lining every street.