San Pedro de Atacama Travel Guide

Consulates

Altitude

First of all, always remember that the the altitude of San Pedro de Atacama is 2400m (about 8000 feet) above sea level. Some of the tourist attractions are well above 4000m (12000 feet). Therefore, if you have any kind of heart or lung problems, consult with your physician before booking a trip. If you get AMS (acute mountain sickness), expect no cure, except heading to lower ground. The symptoms are fairly easy to recognize: dizziness, nausea, headaches, shortness of breath. The best way to ameliorate the condition is to throw up first (seriously), then take an infusion of chachacoma, a local plant that also works quite well to ease headaches. The drink stinks, but actually has only a mild, bitter taste. A packet of chachacoma leaves costs one dollar, and can be found at the handicrafts market at the plaza. An alternative are coca leaves, but remember that you have to drink tea or chew on them at least four times a day, two days before going up! Also, the way to chew them is to put them inside your cheek, and letting them get wet with saliva, not actually biting them! This will release their juice all at once, which is terribly bitter.

Solar Radiation

The sun in San Pedro can often emit dangerous levels of UV rays! Especially in summer, using sunblock, sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and long sleeves is essential. In winter, the radiation levels are more tolerable, and you can actually sunbathe. In summer, however, don't attempt it at all! Especially if your skin's white. The bare minimum UPF for sunblock lotion is 45, 60 and upwards being much better. Always remember to reapply it after an hour or so.

Other Health Concerns

San Pedro only has a Posta, a small medical facility with an ER and some assorted doctors. There are no pharmacies in the area, only a tiny shop that sells the essentials: sunblock, aspirin, condoms, anti-allergics, etc. (La Botica, located on Le Paige street, close to the police station) If you become seriously ill, or suffer a major lesion, expect to be transferred to Calama, or even Antofagasta, at great expense! While there are no major hazards in the area (such as lethal diseases, poisonous animals, and so on), take twice the care you normally would when hiking, cycling, and doing any other activity outdoors. This applies even more to the geysers, where burn-related injuries aren't that uncommon; the place is virtually disconnected from the world, so be extremely cautious when visiting!

Crime

You can rest assured, there's virtually no violent crime in San Pedro. However, the theft of bicycles and cars happens every once in a while, so take the normal precautions in that regard. Despite being poorly lit at night, the town is safe to walk around at all times-use your common sense if you see something suspicious. You might hear locals say that the only danger in town are stray dogs (leading even to the nickname "San Perro de Atacama"; perro means dog in spanish), and this is true. San Pedro boasts a huge population of them; most are friendly and harmless, but a few will attempt to bite passing cyclists. Cases of rape aren't unheard of, but most of these happen at parties, with heavily intoxicated females as the victims. In any case, they're rare.

Money

Despite rumors to the contrary, exchange rates in town are decent, but watch out for wild price swings in the currency of your interest-the money exchanges in town usually are lagging behind this info, which can play in your favor... or otherwise. The dollar's very appreciated, and you can routinely get better rates there than in banks. Be mindful, though, that one-dollar and damaged bills won't be accepted. The euro rates are terrible, though, while other currencies' can be found somewhere in the middle. Again, they only accept larger euro bills, and only in mint condition. There's four places with ATM's in town: Banco Estado, in front of the museum (only accepts international MasterCards), Banco Bci (Caracoles-Vilama streets intersection, close to the plaza), Atacama Connection (they have two offices; the one with the ATM is on the intersection of Caracoles and Calama streets), and a last one at the western end of Caracoles, which only accepts international Visas. Until a few months ago, the operation of these ATMs was sketchy, due to frequent money shortages; now, with greater variety, this has somewhat improved. A tip: if an ATM refuses to give you money, it could be because its supply of a certain denomination is spent. Try with a different amount. For instance, if you wanted 35.000 pesos, round it down to thirty-thousand, or even twenty-thousand, and withdraw money twice (or a higher amount, which actually makes more sense).

source: Wikivoyage

Things To Do in San Pedro de Atacama See All Things To Do in San Pedro de Atacama

Hotels in San Pedro de Atacama (21 Hotels) See All San Pedro de Atacama Hotels

  • Altiplanico Hotel San Pedro De Atacama

    Having Laguna Tebinquinche, Valle del arcoiris and Church of San Pedro de Atacama comfortably found close to the three and half star hotel, Altiplanico Hotel San Pedro De...

  • Don Raúl

    With Atacama Desert Stargazing, Cursos A La Chilena - Cooking Classes and Quebrada de Jerez readily found near the three star hotel, Don Raúl; this hotel is appropriately...

  • Hostal Quinta Adela

    Seen within San Pedro De Atacama, Hostal Quinta Adela is conveniently positioned around Cejas laguna, Quebrada de Jerez and Terra Extreme. Additional well-liked points of...

  • Terrantai Lodge Hotel

    Found within San Pedro de Atacama, Terrantai Lodge Hotel is a finest hotel comfortably positioned close to Turismo Layana, Church of San Pedro de Atacama and Valle del ar...

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