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San Pedro de Atacama is the third most visited place in Chile. It is also home to a growing astronomical activity.
We are far from San Pedro (6km to the south). Therefore it is not too practical to come here without renting a car.
During the new moon, we normally receive amateur astronomers, who spend most of their nights observing the sky with our telescopes. They pârticularly appreciate the possibility to sleep during the morning. But also regular tourists which enjoy the calm of the place and prefer to avoid mass tourism in San Pedro, renting a lodge, renting a pick up truck, and do their own discovery far from the crowd. Many people consider the price of the lodge, the price of a truck rental, the possibility to make your own cooking eventually to the price of a noisy hotel in town, visits in tourists packed buses, and the cost of daily restaurant's meals and then the general quality of your stay in the Atacama desert.
You can of course stay in San Pedro, there are many hotels there (see www.sanpedroatacama.com). Many restaurants, many touristic agencies. You can use the touristic services of these agencies to explore around San Pedro.
There are many places to visit around San Pedro de Atacama :
You can practice horse riding, sandboard on the dunes, volcano climbing, etc... This is certainly the place where a "normal" person can climb at 5600m of altitude without any special skills but a good health (Cerro Toco).
To be completed with links and images. Really the area is a beautiful place... A GPS is recommended if you travel alone, eventhough the most touristic destinations are easy to find (follow the main track...).
Start going on Google Earth at 68º10'43.47"W and 22º57'13.42"S (the current image seems to be from 2004 or so when the lodges were being built, no swimming pool yet)
Then zoom out... At an altitude of 7km, you see the oasis of Solor. At an altitude of 20km, you see San Pedro de Atacama and its different oasis. At about 60km of altitude, you start to see on the south the Cejar lagoons. The Moon Valley is on the east. On the upper right part of the screen appears the Licancabur Volcano.