San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

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Main Plaza – San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

So, everyone wants to see photos of San Pedro de Atacama (the very small town we’re staying in). It’s in the Atacama desert at an altitude of 8,000 feet (in the Chilean Andes). According to the last census count in 2002 the resident population numbers about 5,000 (that number has probably risen a little over the past few years). This is a mecca for backpackers, trekkers, and adventurers of all kinds, so there is a migrant population that swells the ranks of the locals.

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Road to Our Hostel – San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

We have to get up tomorrow morning at 3:30 a.m. to meet our pickup vehicle at 4:00 a.m. so this post will be short. Like I said earlier I’ve received a number of requests to post photos of the town. These are just record shots taken this morning, and are in no way artistic works of art. The construction in San Pedro is almost all adobe brick, and the streets are unpaved, full of potholes, and very dusty. Did I mention that San Pedro is rustic?

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Main Street – San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

The above photo is a shot of Main Street, and gives you a pretty good idea of the rest of the town. Very rustic, basic, and dusty—but I love it. The word authentic comes to mind. A few hitching posts and horses and an 1800’s Mexican border town would immediately spring to life. Eco-tourism is the main source of income for this small village, and hostels and tour companies line the streets—along with restaurants and cafes. This is not a party town (thank God).

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Typical Adobe – San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Here you can see an example of typical adobe brick construction. Almost all the town’s buildings look pretty much like this. With little to no rain these bricks can last years and years. Remember, San Pedro de Atacama is in the Atacama desert (the driest place on planet Earth). In addition to the hostels, tour companies, restaurants and cafes, you can find a number of shops selling local wares to the backpackers. Alpaca wool clothing and gold and silver jewellery are among the big sellers.

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Rustic Gate – San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Construction is simple, be it buildings or gates. Local materials (which are scare) utilized by local labor. Without the influx of international travellers, backpackers, trekkers, and adventure seekers, I think this little town would dry up and blow away in the wind. I’m glad that it hasn’t, because like I said before I really like it. If you ever decide to visit northern Chile you must visit San Pedro de Atacama, and plan to spend awhile exploring the many sights. Time for bed, 3:30 a.m. comes really early.

WB IMG_6481 Stephen F. Dennstedt

Photographer, Writer, World Traveller

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

3 responses to “San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

  1. Another interesting story … San Pedro Atacama Chile is my “kind of town”: thanks for sharing it with me, Stephen.

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