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near San Pedro de Atacama, Antofagasta (Chile)
This tour is among the not so common but probably the best of all. I heard this even from tour guides/drivers. This is “full day tour” but actually you only need half day coming back at 4pm, if the weather is not bad and avoid delays and stops where everyone get off the van to take pictures.
Entrances fee: non.
Wildlife: vicuñas is not so hard to spot on the road, flamingos you can see some in Tara (my experience in november)
Altitude: You will climb high (4400 masl) bring windproof jacket, sunglasses.
Walking, Hiking: the tour don't allow too much time to do tha, there is not much you can do but you can climb a bit in Monjes Blancos, and walk longer in the trail in Salar de Tara heading north. Most of the places are reserves so you cannot just walk freely.
The start of the tour would be in the Monjes de la Pacana, the trail from Atacama to here is just connecting points through a highway, after this point its all sand or similar, on the highway the landscape its nice but the important part its after, Laguna Diamante its a normal lake, Laguna de Quepiaco is a better but you will probably visit without any effort if you have a car.
There are so many roads leading to places looking very good, if you drive yourself you will have lot of fun, but careful, because its reserve many places you need to be careful its not forbidden to go. Check the satelital pictures, north of Salar de Tara almost in the border with Bolivia looks like there are some amazing cliffs. Probably you need a 4WD vehicle, but you can see some tracks on the pictures.
Salar de Tara is a good place to marge with other tour.
Bolivia: if you do Uyuni-Atacama tour you can try leave Bolivia around noon then come here, its good because the last places in the Uyuni tour its at the same high as this place (~4400 masl), if you go back to Atacama first you have to go down 2000 meters. The problem: no Chilean Migration Checkpoint on the border, only in the city, check for info if you can visit then go to migration when you arrive to the city. The other option is do the Uyuni tour starting in Atacama, go first to Salar de Tara then cross the border.
Argentina: if you have to come/go there Tara will be a few hours detour. this border does have Chilean and Argentinian migration offices.
Crazy difficult to understand, they merge with other companies, so if you pay more its not necessary a better service, you might end up in the vehicle of other agency with cheaper price. The driver is the important thing here, if you don't book a pack of tours and you meet a good driver in some tour ask how to do more tours with him. Usually the tours are done in mini van, 12 to 20 passengers, so there are not many stops to take pictures on the road, only the main destination (too much time getting everyone out and in again) the vehicle for some reason normally cannot open the window. Getting a private tour in a car might be very good idea so you can skip boring places, ask for more stops on the go. No idea the price for private tour, try find more people and share.