Figuring Out How to Leave San Pedro de Atacama

I am trying not to go into this adventure with too many plans, since spur of the moment spontaneity is (more than) half the fun.

But I am trying to sort out the options I will be able to choose from. Since I know the date the girls are leaving San Pedro de Atacama, I know I can figure out my onward travel from that date.

As I mentioned in a previous post, it is very likely that I will be leaving San Pedro de Atacama by bus.

I have a few options. I can travel onward to Arequipa, Peru – which is a, seemingly dreadful, 20+ hour bus ride. It’s around the 14 hour mark before you cross from Chile into Peru. Or I could head back into Argentina to visit Salta and Jujuy, if I haven’t already made my way there. I could also take a bus into Bolivia.

From my research so far, apparently, the bus from San Pedro to Salta only leaves Tuesdays and Fridays. So if that’s my option, I may have an extra day in the desert.

Also found in my research, LAN seems to be a very expensive airline if your permanent residence is outside of South America.

Sky Airlines, which I will be flying one-way from Santiago to Calama (domestic), does not permit one-way flights for international flights. Since I am trying not to backtrack, that option is out.

Most flights, if not all the ones I checked, connect back through Santiago (two hours south) or Lima (essentially making me connect to my next destination via Lima) or both (making for a very long day of travel – well, I guess not as long as a 20-hour bus ride).

While I managed to avoid a 24-hour bus ride from Santiago to San Pedro de Atacama, I may not be able to avoid a long bus ride to my next destination.

On the plus side, long-haul buses in Argentina and Chile apparently offer reclining seats, more leg room than an airplane’s coach class and wine after dinner. Yes they even serve meals, I’ll believe that when I see it!


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