A long history of human population, which predates the arrival of the Spaniards, and the preserving qualities of the region’s dry desert conditions mean that the area surrounding San Pedro de Atacama is rich in archaeological treasures. Here are some suggestions for how to explore San Pedro de Atacama’s best archaeological sites.
RP Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological Museum
A short stroll from the Plaza de San Pedro de Atacama, the RP Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological Museum is named for its founder, a Belgian priest who established the museum in 1963. Through displays of everything from gold masks to hallucinogenic substances, the museum explains the presence of the different indigenous peoples in the area throughout time.
Pukara de Quitor
Two miles (3.2 kilometers) north of San Pedro de Atacama, indigenous Atacamans built the stone fortress of Pukara de Quitor around 700 years ago to protect themselves from potential invaders. It is a designated Chilean National Monument and offers a great view of the surrounding area.
Nearly 6 miles (9 kilometers) from San Pedro de Atacama, the sprawling ancient village complex of Tulor dates from between AD 800 and 500 BC. The complex covers an area of 55,972 square feet (5,200 square meters) and is characterized by its circular walls made out of clay.
Archaeology-focused half-day guided tours from San Pedro de Atacama typically visit both Pukara de Quitor and Tulor, and often include an additional stop, such as the Church of San Pedro de Atacama, a national monument built from adobe and cactus wood.