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Getting There

By Car -- From Calama, head southeast on the route marked "San Pedro de Atacama," and continue for 98km (61 miles).

By Bus -- Several bus companies provide service to San Pedro from Calama: Buses Frontera, Antofagasta 2041 (tel. 55/318543), has eight trips per day for $2.25 (£1.50); and Tur Bus, Av. Balmaceda 1852 (tel. 55/220240), has five trips to San Pedro daily for $2 (£1.30).

Orientation

San Pedro de Atacama is divided into several ayllus, or neighborhoods; however, the principal area of the town can be walked in about 10 minutes or less. As more businesses pop up, residents are beginning to use street numbers, but many cling to "s/n" for sin número, or without number. The town's main axis that funnels east to the explora hotel and west to the Quitor archaeological site is Calle Domingo Atienza. The thoroughfare and dining and shopping epicenter is the north-west Calle Caracoles. Note that the street Antofagasta becomes Padre Le Paige (also known as Gustavo Le Paige) closer to the plaza. Several sights are within walking or biking distance, such as Quitor and Tulor, and it is possible to bike to the Valley of the Moon and through Devil's Canyon. But you'll need a tour to get to the Tatio Geysers.

Visitor Information

Sernatur operates a small visitor center at the plaza on the corner of Padre Le Paige and Toconao (no phone). Hours are Saturday through Thursday from 9:30am to 1:30pm and 3 to 7pm. The best site for information is www.sanpedroatacama.com, in English and Spanish.

Know before You Go -- At just over 2,400m (8,000 ft.), the altitude in San Pedro will slow you down at first, though few are gravely affected by it. Don't plan on undertaking any grand expeditions to extreme altitudes during your first 2 days in San Pedro. Instead, allow yourself to acclimatize slowly. There is just one small medical clinic in town, and no hospital. Do not drink tap water here or in other altiplano villages, as the local supply contains trace amounts of arsenic. Also, bring a flashlight: The streets off the main drag are not lit at night, and even a 2-block walk can be difficult to negotiate.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.