Atacama Desert Challenge

Wicked Campervan in Atacama desert

On your way to Peru or Bolivia? Try in a Wicked Campervan!

On your way to Peru or Bolivia? The Atacama Challenge is one of the sexiest roadtrips that Chile and Argentina have to offer. Head North from Santiago to San Pedro de Atacama: you choose which side of the Andes. Does making a giant circle across multiple countries turn you on? Try doing The Loop: from Santiago to San Pedro, to Salta, Mendoza, returning in Santiago… or visa versa.

Atacama desertMinimum Hiring Time:

Santiago – San Pedro de Atacama (one way): Min. 10 days

Hiring Conditions: No requirements unless you want to cross to Argentina and need to hire the documents to cross to Argentina

Best time to go: All year


Nights can be a bit cold during winter time, take a nice sleeping bag with you! In San Pedro de Atacama, you can reach up to almost 5.000 m high, it can be a big windy and cold up there so take appropriate clothes with you!

Some countries have to pay a reciprocity fee to get to Argentina (ex: USA, Canada, Australia, etc). Wicked Campers is not responsible for the paperwork of this reciprocity.

The Atacama Desert in the north of Chile is known for being the most arid desert in the world with high temperatures during the day and very cold nights. The lack of water and the endless desert landscape could drive anyone mad. However, beneath its tough exterior there are many secrets and unique experiences waiting to be discovered for those who are willing to push themselves to their limits.

Start the adventure from Santiago taking road 68 to get to Valparaiso, one of Chile’s most typical cities. There take a walk around Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepcion and catch the best views and to experience the bohemian lifestyle. The best way to visit the city is to use funiculars or elevators to get to the top of the hills, or use the endless stairways that carve a zigzag path up the face of all the hills.

Heading North through Road 5, go watch the sunset and eat an amazing empanada at the beach in Pichidangui before getting to Fray Jorge National Park. When you arrive at La Serena, take road 41 to Pisco Elqui to observe the biggest amount of stars you have ever seen and drink the national alcohol “Pisco”. Getting back to La Serena, go a bit up north to Punta de Choros and its National Reserve of Humboldt Penguins and loads of doplhins . This place is one of the few places where a family of nose bottle dolphins lives. We totally recommend the boat tour at Isla Damas.


On your way from La Serena to San Pedro de Atacama, you shouldn’t miss several stops: spending the whole day at Bahia Inglesa chilling at this incredible beach or kayaking at National Park Pan de Azucar.

Once you make it to San Pedro de Atacama, take at least 3-4 days to explore the whole regions: Tatio geyser, Death Valley, Salar de Atacama, Moon Valley, Puritama baths, sandboarding at Death Valley, Lagunas Altiplanicas or climbing a volcano!

After San Pedro de Atacama, let’s continue your trip back to Santiago through Argentina and its beautiful landscapes. Take route 52 from San Pedro to the border and cross Los Andes Mountains through Paso Jama. Once in Argentina, make a first stop at Salinas Grandes and Purmamarca (the seven colors mountain) to take a couple of pictures. Then go to Jujuy to get some supplies and spend a day or two in National Park Calilegua, just a couple of km away from Jujuy.

From Jujuy, you can take route 9 to Salta and then road 68 to reach Cafayate where you will find one of the most beautiful landscapes in Argentina. Finish your trip by visiting Tafi del Valle and Mendoza (Road 40) before crossing the border again to reach Santiago.

Atacama desert challenge destinations



1. Santiago
2. La Serena
3. Valle del Elqui
4. Punta de Choros
5. Bahía Inglesa
6. Pan de Azúcar
7. Antofagasta
8. Iquique
9. San Pedro de Atacama


10. Pumamarca
11. Salta
12. Cachi
13. Cafayate
14. Tafi del Valle
15. La Rioja
16. Talampaya
17. Barreal
18. Mendoza



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