[Atacana Desert and Altiplano]

Before you leave home for your tour with ROLLING HOSTEL, there are a few details that you will need to look after to ensure a smooth, worry free holiday. These include passports, visas, vaccinations, insurance, clothing, personal gear, money and other items of this nature. This dossier will be able to answer some of your questions and assist you with your travel preparations. The tour dossier includes the following items:

1. About us
2. Itinerary
3. Joining instructions 
4. Weather and climate
5. Transport
6. Lodging
7. Food
8. Luggage
9. Documents
10. Health
11. Money


1. About us

ROLLING HOSTEL organizes sustainable travels through unspoiled nature in Chile. We travel in a small group of about 10 persons.

ROLLING HOSTEL has a multidisciplinary team that will show you Chile from the inside, starting from our own experiences and love for the country. Apart from visiting the highlights, we will bring you to places not included in the regular Chile traveling program, places that only Chileans know they exist. Our guides speak English and Spanish.

ROLLING HOSTEL makes Chile easy to explore and keeps you in touch with its warm and generous people and its excellent wine and seafood.

ROLLING HOSTEL will make your trip an unforgettable ecoadventure, full of fun and lots of laughter!


2. Itinerary

This itinerary is only a guidance and not a strict day to day scheme. During the tour the itinerary will be regularly discussed in interaction with the tour leader and the participants. As such, each tour will have different accents according to the interests of the group. Nevertheless, the highlights of the tour will surely be visited.

This tour can be:
- from south to north (day 21: flight Iquique-Santiago)
- from north to south (day 2: flight Santiago-Arica)
These national flights are included in the tour price.

Santiago de Chile (day 1)

This is an arrival day. No activities are planned, so check into the hostel (see 3. Joining instructions) and set out to explore the city. Santiago de Chile is a great place to discover on foot. At 19h00 you are expected at the hostel for a presentation of the itinerary and an evening meal.

Norte Chico/Islas y Playas (ca. 7 days)

We leave Santiago and head to the north for Norte Chico (Small North), a zone of big contrasts between the coastal area, the desert and the fertile valleys.

The fertile and lush Elqui Valley, east of La Serena, lingers the high Andes peaks to the coast. The beautiful green colors of the valley are in sharp contrast to the brown color pallet of the surrounding hills covered with cacti. In the Elqui Valley the national Pisco liquor is distilled. We visit a pisco factory and learn more about the production process from grape to Pisco. In the Elqui Valley you can find the clearest skies of South America! We discover new galaxies in one of the most important observatories in the world (Observatorio Tololo). Those who would like to can make a horse ride or visit an esoteric centre.
Along the coast line we explore deserted islands (Isla Damas, Isla Pan de Azucar), hidden bays (Punta Choros) and endless beaches. We relax on white sands and swim in turquoise waters. We take a boat trip and admire pinguin and sea lion colonies in Pan de Azucar National Park. We snorkel with dolphins. We fully enjoy the beach life, barbecues and campfires.

Norte Grande (ca. 5 days)

We drive further north to Norte Grande (Great North) where the Atacama desert, worlds driest desert, presents an unforgettable landscape.

We visit the charming village of San Pedro de Atacama, located at 2450 meters above sea level, near the north side of the great salt deposit of Atacama (the biggest of the country). We visit old Inca fortresses (Pukara de Quitor) and abandoned nitrate ghost towns (Humberstone). We ride bikes and watch the sunset in the amazing Valley of the Moon. At sunrise we explore a volcanic geyser field (Geysers del Tatio) where water and steam spring up violently from deep inside the earth. We ride sand board in the middle of the desert, take a horse ride or enjoy taking a bath in natural thermal streams (Termas de Puritama).

Altiplano (ca. 7 days)

We drive up into the Andes to the very north of Chile and a vast plateau known as the Altiplano (up to 4500 m), as high and remote as Tibet.

We overnight beside snow-capped volcanoes (Parinacota) and some of the worlds highest mountain lakes (Lago Chungara in Lauca National Park). We walk through bleached-white salt flats (Salar de Surire, Salar de Huasco) and dream beside lakes speckled pink with flamingos. We walk along hurds of grazing lamas, alpacas and vicuñas. We visit tiny whitewashed churches and native Aymara communities.

E xcursions in the Altiplano at +4000 m (included in the price):

- Day 15: Arica-Putre (3500 m)
Termas de Jurasi (natural thermal baths)
- Day 16: Putre-Socoroma-Putre (3500 m)
Trekking to the mountain village Socoroma
- Day 17: Putre-Parque Nacional Lauca-Putre (3500 m)
Parque Nacional Lauca, visit to the mountain village Parinacota and short trekking, bofedales de Chucuyo, Lagunas Cotacotani, Payachatas volcanoes, Lago Chungara (4600 m), Putre
- Day 18: Putre-Salar de Surire-Parque Nacional Volcan Isluga-Colchane (3700 m)
Reserva Nacional Las Vicuñas, Salar de Surire (salt plain), Termas de Polloquere (hot mud baths), Parque Nacional Volcan Isluga, visit to the mountain village Isluga, Colchane
- Day 19: Colchane-Salar de Huasco-La Huayca (1.325 m) or Iquique (0 m)
Trekking in Salar de Huasco (salt plain) with flamingo colony, La Huayca/Iquique

Santiago de Chile (day 21)

At the end of our journey we head towards Santiago. At night we conclude the tour with a great party!

Some trails in this journey are part of the much longer Sendero de Chile. See website for more details: http://www.senderodechile.cl/


For those who have some spare traveling time we can recommend some nice day trips in and around cosmopolitan and vibrant Santiago. You can visit for example the house of Pablo Neruda, Chile 's greatest poet and make an easy climb up Cerro Cristobal where you have an excellent overview of the city. You can spend a few days in Valparaiso while discovering its coastal charm on hill slope lifts or you can visit Viña del Mar, a luxurious seaside resort.


3. Joining instructions

Please note that day 1 is an arrival day and no activities have been planned, so you may arrive at any time. Your tour leader will contact you at the hostel on day 1 and make sure you are settled comfortably. S/he will organize a short meeting at 19h00, during which you will meet the other tour participants and receive information about general and specific aspects of the trip. If you arrive late, s/he will leave you a message detailing what time and where you should meet the next morning.

Hostel Plaza de Armas

Compania 960 - 6th floor
Plaza de Armas
Depto. 607
Santiago de Chile

Tel:+56 (0)2-671 44 36
E-mail: hostel@plazadearmashostel.com
URL: http://www.plazadearmashostel.com

Hostel Plaza de Armas is located at the Plaza de Armas, the center square of Santiago de Chile. The hostel offers spectacular views of the square where the very starting point (km 0) of all Chilean highways is located. You can reach it by taking Metro station Plaza de Armas.


Aeropuerto International Arturo Merino Benítez is in Pudahuel, 26km northwest of downtown Santiago. Tur-Bus runs every 15 minutes between 6:30 am and 9 pm to the city centre.


4.  Weather and climate

Due to its enormous length (about 4300 km), Chile has a variety of climate regions.

The period May-October in Santiago de Chile is the late autumn, winter to early spring period. Mean temperatures during the day vary around 10°C and it can be rainy.

The Atacama Desert lies at a height of 2500m. From May-October the mean temperature during the day is about 20 to 25°C and there is a lot of sun. However, as on the Altiplano, it can be very cool during the evening and at night (temperatures around the freezing point).

For more detailed weather conditions in Chile, please consult the BBC weather website.


5. Transport

Our rolling hostel (capacity: 10-12 travelers) has five comfortable sleeping cabins for two persons, comfortable individual seats and a toilet. Upon choice you can sleep inside the rolling hostel or in the tent camp surrounding it.

Most of the time we overnight with our rolling hostel in nature parks on campings with multiple toilet and shower services. Sometimes we overnight with our rolling hostel in abandoned natural environments far from civilization. Every 3-4 days we stop over to sleep in a 'normal' hostel without any wheels.

Traveling on board of our rolling hostel gives you the possibility to enter more abandoned natural environments and to overnight besides glacial mountain lakes, volcanic geyser fields or in the middle of the desert.

With our rolling hostel the travel group can be easily split up into two smaller groups. Under guidence these groups can be dropped at different places and participate upon choice to different activities (e.g. group 1: free afternoon in a small village; group 2: nature walk). In addiction, there is always the choice just to hang around the rolling hostel (and for example read a book in the outside nature). As such, with the rolling hostel you can travel at your own speed including your own interests.

Touring with the rolling hostel certainly means a time gain on your travels. You simply don't have to wait (overtime) public transport or other travel connections! Additionally you don't have to drag your luggage in and out of hotels, on and off buses, etc. All your luggage is safely guarded inside the rolling hostel under the surveillance of our driver.


6. Lodging

On our trip we will sleep for 50% inside and around (camping) our rolling hostel. The remaining 50% we stay in small, clean hostels with double or multi-shared rooms.


7. Food

Rolling Hostel offers you a daily breakfast.
Other meals are not included in the price.
We will visit small local restaurants. While staying in abandoned natural environments without restaurants we cook all together on gas stoves or prepare a barbecue.

Fish and seafood are the great speciality of Chilean cuisine. Salmon fishing is booming along Chile 's southern coast, and salmon is served widely in restaurants. A cheap and universal Chilean takeaway food is the empanada, a pastry filled with anything from sweetened maize or vegetables to minced meat.


8. Luggage

You will be on the move a great deal, so our advice is to pack as lightly as possible. Most people automatically assume that the weather is hot in South America, but because of the higher altitude in the Andes, the temperature can feel quite cold, especially at night (temperatures around the freezing point). We recommend the use of a backpack. A small size daypack is also essential.

Suggested List:  

• Warm sleeping bag
• Sleeping mattress (for optional sleeping in tent - see 5. Transport)
• Windproof jacket and trousers
• Warm (fleece) jacket
• Sufficient warm clothing (hat and gloves included) and warm underwear for in the mountains and for cold evenings
• Light clothing for during the day
• Hiking boots or sturdy walking shoes
• Sport sandals
• Toiletries (biodegradable: pH neutral)
Small towel and swim wear
• Sunblock (min factor 30)
• Lip salve
• Sun hat
• Sunglasses
• Flashlight
• Drinking bottle
• First aid kit*

*First aid kit should contain second skin (for blisters), aspirin, antihistamine, antidiarrhoea, and extra prescription drugs you may be taking. On the rolling hostel there will be a general first aid kit available.

Remember that the higher altitude on some parts of the trip make for cold evenings and you will need a warm sweater or pullover and long trousers. It's best to layer clothes rather than bring a heavy parka so that you can take layers off.

During the tour you will get several times the opportunity to take your clothes to the laundry.


Camera and film (digital cameras and other electronics can be charged (220 V) on the rolling hostel), mobile phone (only triband, no dualband), reading/writing material, binoculars, money belt…

Tour leaders - travel literature

Although the tour leader takes you into close contact with the land and its citizens, s/he is not a classical guide. S/he coordinates the tour in interaction with the participants and arranges all logistics (lodging, meals, activities,...). S/he plays a stimulating role in order to make a truly adventurous travel. As such we advise you to gather some travel information before departure. Travel literature (e.g. Rough Guide, etc.) will help to bring you into a holiday mood and give you background information along the way. Locally we use classical guides for guided visits and excursions.


9. Documents

• Passport (with photocopies)
• Travel insurance (with photocopies)
• Airline tickets (with photocopies)
• EUR/USD cash, credit or debit card (see money) - (with credit card photocopies)
• ROLLING HOSTEL vouchers and tour dossier
• Entry visas (with photocopies)

Contact your local embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements. It is your responsibility to have the correct travel documentation. It's recommended to leave also extra photocopies of all your documents at your home contact point! Leave also the Rolling Hostel contact info (see website) at your home contact point.


10. Health

There are no special vaccinations needed.

Recommended vaccinations: Tetanus, Poliomyelitis, Typhoid and Hepatitis A.

Please contact your physician for the most up-to-date health requirements. We will ask you to fill up a medical form at the beginning of our trip.


11. Money

Everything is included in the ‘Price' except for other meals, personal expenses, optional activities and travel insurance. How much you take is obviously a personal matter.

The official currency in Chile is the Chilean peso. Exchange rate: 100 peso = 0,14€ (April 2007).

Credit cards and debit cards are very useful for cash advances. Visa cards are the most widely accepted cards. You should be aware that to purchase products or services on a credit card a fee of 5%-10% usually applies. Do not rely on credit or debit cards as your only source of money. A combination of cash (Euro or US dollar) and credit cards is best.