I have to disappoint you. San Pedro de Atacama is pretty expensive, especially coming from Peru as we did. You need to book a tour for most activities, food is really expensive, accommodations as well. But there are still ways you can enjoy San Pedro de Atacama on a budget.
Find a place with the kitchen
Like I mentioned above, food prices in San Pedro are really high. We really are budgeteers and we know how to find cheap food, but here the cheapest option we found were the local restaurants near the Licancabur street on a dirt parking lot, you have a lot of options there. You will get two-course lunch there, some of them have good menus. We usually took the soup and the main dish and it cost us 3500 CLP (5,13$:4,5€).
Another alternative is to find a place to stay with the kitchen where you can cook your own food. We decided that we will eat one hot meal outside and cook the second one, it saved us some money.
Get discount prices for tours
We took just one tour during our San Pedro visit, we went to see the geysers. We asked around at different places and the prices were 25.000 CLP (36,6$;32,2€) for a tour. After asking around we managed to find one with the discount for 18.000 CLP (26,3$;23,2€) each. We didn’t book it, cause we got the same price at the hostel we were staying, so we preferred to book it from there.
El Tatio Geysers tour
You start at 4:30 am (yes it is brutal, especially cause it’s so cold outside the bed), they pick you up at your hostel. You drive approx 2 hours and you arrive at Tatio geysers, 4300 m high above sea level. You reach the geysers just before the sunrise, it will be very very cold, dress well. By dress well I mean two pair of socks, gloves, scarf, hat and so on, otherwise you will be freezing, we had minus 10 degrees. I also recommend you to dress like an onion cause later it gets warm, so you can take your clothes off. You will probably have breakfast included, ours was pretty good (baguette, eggs, cheese, salami, tea, coffee or chocolate, and even some sweet snacks). After breakfast, you will have the chance to try the thermal baths.
The tour is worth the money, if your hostel doesn’t arrange a tour with a discount, my advice would be to ask around until you find one for 18.000 CLP (26,3$;23,2€).
Entrance fee to the park is not included, it will cost you 10.000 CLP (14,6$;12,9€).
Rent a bicycle
it is cheap, you can rent it all day, it will cost you 6.000 CLP (8,8$;7,7€). you can also rent it for half a day, which is half the price. It is popular to rent a bike in San Pedro and it is a nice way to spend a day and explore the city.
Walk to Pukara de Quitor
This is a beautiful way to spend the day, especially if you like archeological sites. One fortress is overlooking the valley of the river San Pedro, the view is amazing. There is a memorial site and if you look closely, you will find faces carved into stones. Most people include Pukara de Quitor on the day they rent bikes but we walked there. The area is 3 km away from the city, the walk should take 40 to 50 minutes. You will need to pay the entrance of 3.000 CLP (4,4$;3,8€) and you can easily spend 2 to 3 hours there, it is much to explore.
Where to stay in San Pedro de Atacama
We stayed in 2 places there. First one was Sami Atacama lodge, really nice place, with beautiful accommodation and a big delicious breakfast. The only downside was the distance from the city center, it was a long 2 km walk each time. We also couldn’t cook our meals there. It cost 32$ per night for both of us.
When our 2 nights booking ended we decided to move close to the town.
The second place we stayed at was 10 minutes away from the town center, just next to the bus terminal. We had a kitchen, shared bathroom with hot water and hot beverages all day. Good value for the money, the place is called Hostal Alabalti and it cost us 24$ per night. Click HERE to get 10% off your stay. They also arranged a discount price for the tours, you can rent bicycles there as well.
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