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Chile's Atacama Desert

Written by Thomas Power | 17th November 2011 |


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Over the past 7 years Camilo has proved to be one of our most popular guides so we think it's time we introduced him properly.

Camilo is an expert in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, a beautiful area of high desert plains, salt flats, volcanoes, Andean peaks, lagoons and sand dunes.

As he himself puts it, 'The Atacama is a unique place in the world, full of genuine Andean tradition, with spectacular landscapes, views and walks. Every spot in the desert and the mountains are something unique, difficult to describe with words. As long as you walk in San Pedro, you are discovering new things'.

Given that altitudes range from 2,000m to nearly 6,000m and the road infrastructure is very limited, it really isn't the sort of place you would want to be without a guide to show you round. We think Camilo is the best of the bunch.

Incredibly calm, he exudes a relaxed authority which allows you to just hand over the reins of your holiday. As you dig a little deeper though, you might discover a bit more about how much he has done in his time up here. For instance, it was he who was chosen by the government to establish the Camino de Chile (a massively long footpath which will eventually link north to south of Chile) across the Atacama.

He also seems to know all of the many, and increasing, number of observatories up here. He also knows about the wildlife, the culture, the stars, I could go on. He's a sort of outdoor renaissance man. My mother still goes a little dewy eyed at the mention of Camilo after her trip to Chile in 2009. She isn't the only one by all accounts.

Camilo's always up early as he doesn't want to miss any minute of the day. Most days are spent touring the Atacama whether walking, mountain biking, riding horses or something more relaxed like visiting cultural sites near San Pedro.

For Camilo, the most important thing as a guide is to impart an appreciation of the culture and history of San Pedro de Atacama. He is also passionate about respect and care of the Atacama's exotic and fragile ecology.

When I asked Camilo about what makes this area different form the rest of Chile he said:

'The Atacama is the driest desert in the world with a unique and fragile ecosystem combining amazing mountains, lakes, little Andean towns and wildlife. And unlike the south of Chile, the sun always appears!'

If you would like to be guided by Camilo then have a look at our Atacama Patagonia walking holiday to Chile, alternatively we offer an almost limitless range of tailor made holidays to Chile.


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