The small town of San Pedro de Atacama serves as a convenient gateway to the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places in the world. The vast desert covers more than 100,000 kilometers and is home to arid landscapes reminiscent of Mars. For lovers of natural landscapes, day trip options are varied and appealing. Combine a visit to Moon Valley, so-called due to its lunar-like appearance, with the El Tatio Geysers and the Puritama Hot Springs. Other highlights include Rainbow Valley (Valle Arcoiris), the Atacama Salt Lake, and the Ojos del Salar, a salt-saturated lagoon that allows you to float unaided. At Los Flamencos National Reserve (Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos), pink flamingos contrast with the vivid blue water of Chaxa Lagoon and the Altiplanic Lagoon, making the park a top draw for nature lovers and photographers. If you’re a history buff, tours to the archaeological site of Pukará de Quitor reveal a pre-Columbian fortress, while in Tulor one finds ruins of the oldest settlement in the area. In the inhabited villages of Toconao and Socaire, a beautiful church tower and agricultural terraces provide a dose of local culture.