30 Sep 2010

San Pedro de Atacama

San Pedro de Atacama is a Chilean town and commune in El Loa Province, Antofagasta Region. It is located east of Antofagasta, some 106 km (60 mi) southeast of Calama and the Chuquicamata copper mine, overlooking the Licancabur volcano. It features a significant archeological museum, the R. P. Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological Museum, with a large collection of relics and artifacts from the region. Native ruins nearby now attract increasing numbers of tourists interested in learning about pre-Columbian cultures. Tourists also visit for other popular activities including sandboarding and stargazing, with the views of the stars from the Atacama unrivalled across the continent.

San Pedro de Atacama grew, over centuries, around an oasis in the Puna de Atacama, an arid high plateau, its first inhabitants were the Atacameños who developed basketworks and ceramic pottery crafts that can be now be appreciated by tourist in the several souvenir shops as typical products of San Pedro de Atacama. The town lies at an average of 7,900 ft and visitors often experience mild altitude sickness such as dizziness, lethargy and headaches. The local climate is extremely dry and mild, with daytime temperatures between 25-30 degrees Celsius (77-86°F) in the summer (December to February) and 18-25 degrees Celsius (64-77°F) in the winter (June to August). Nighttime temperatures routinely drop below zero and can reach as low as -10°C (14°F) in the winter.

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