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Altiplanic Lagoons and Atacama Salt Flats Half Day Tour

This half day tour begins in San Pedro de Atacama and takes you to the Altiplanic Lagoons, the Atacama Salt Flats, and to two Andean towns – Socaire and Toconao. See the Atacama desert’s stunning high altitude lagoons and massive salt flats, which are home to beautiful high altitude flamingos!

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USD $50.00

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Altiplanic Lagoons and Atacama Salt Flats Half Day Tour


  • See the Atacama desert’s iconic and stunning bright blue Altiplanic Lagoons!
  • Visit the famous Atacama Salt Flats, home to high altitude flamingos
  • Learn about the lagoons and salt flats from guides who have been trained in geology!
  • Visit two small Andean towns and get a glimpse of how the locals live at in the Andes above the Atacama desert


On this half day tour, you will visit the Altiplanic Lagoons, the Atacama Salt Flats, and two Andean towns (Socaire and Toconao). Led by local guides trained in geology, you will learn about how the salt flats came to be, why they are so large, and how the flamingos survive in such an intense environment. You will also learn about how the Altiplanic Lagoons were formed and why they and the mountains around them have such a special color. During your stops in Toconao and Socaire, you will get to see how locals live in the Andean desert and take in some spectacular views of the desert and salt flats from on high. Walk slow (you’ll be at high altitude most of the day), put on a good pair of sunglasses, and enjoy some of the most spectacular views that you can find in Chile’s grand northern desert!

Note that the price does not include entrance to the park, which is $2,500 Chilean pesos (about $5 USD), paid in cash to the park rangers.


(Note that the middle part of the itinerary may vary – this tour operator does a good job of trying to visit destinations when there are not many other travelers there, so sometimes they flip or rearrange the order of the itinerary)

  • Pick up at your hotel/hostel between 06:30-7:00am
  • Quick stop in the town of Toconao to enjoy the views and to use the bathroom
  • Drive up over 13,000 feet (~4,000 meters) to the Altiplanic Lagoons – Miscanti and Miñiques; here you will have time to walk around and your guide will explain the many geological phenomena you see around you
  • Stop at a church in Socaire on the way down to learn more about living in the Andes in the desert and to enjoy the views of the flats
  • Visit the Atacama Salt Flats, where you should see flamingos grazing in the shallow water and flying against the epic backdrop of Andean mountains
  • Drop-off back in San Pedro around 14:00 pm

What’s Included

  • Transport from hotel to destination and back
  • Experienced and Knowledgeable guide

What to Bring

  • Layers – the temperature will fluctuate a lot during the day depending on the sun, the altitude, and the wind; bring a lot of layers, keeping in mind that you can always leave excess layers in the van
  • Sunglasses and/or a hat – it is extremely bright and the sun is intense at altitude
  • Sunscreen and/or long sleeves – you will not be exposed for too long, but you will be at altitude, so it is best to protect yourself
  • Water – staying hydrated is an important part of defending against altitude sickness

Important Notes

Please note that in order to reserve this tour, we need to pay the operator immediately, so all bookings are non-refundable. If you have any questions before booking or want to confirm a certain date, please email us at

This day tour will take you to over 13,000 feet (~4,000 meters), so we highly recommend that you hydrate well the night before and stay hydrated during the day (this helps prevent altitude sickness). Also avoid alcoholic drinks the night before this trip. If you commonly suffer from altitude sickness, we recommend taking this tour a few days into your visit to Atacama in order to acclimate. This excursion is not recommended for people who suffer from high blood pressure or heart deceases. Pregnant women and children younger than 4 years old should also skip this tour.

Rules and Regulations in the National Park

The Altiplanic Lagoons are a part of the Flamingos National Reserve. Drinking alcohol, smoking, and collecting rocks is strictly prohibited. Visitors are prohibited from walking in restricted areas. Stay on trails. There is no phone reception at the Altiplanic Lagoons, but the operator will have a satellite phone in case of emergencies.


Altiplano Lagoons

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Altiplano Lagoons -23.433532, -67.278248

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What Happens After I Book?

After you book your experience, you will receive a confirmation email from us confirming that your payment went through. You will then be connected directly to the tour operator, in case you have any further questions. We are also happy to answer any questions about the tour, or travel in general in your country of destination.

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