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- Small, friendly site 15 minutes' drive from the town of Pica
- Half an hour's drive from the Pampa de Tamarugal National Reserve
- Shaded outdoor cooking and leisure facilities
Ah, the outdoor life… camping out under the stars, cooking your meals on the barbecue, eating out in the fresh air… at Camping Los Algarrobos pretty much everything happens out in the great outdoors. You don’t really have to fear rainfall over here in the Atacama Desert, as it’s officially the planet’s driest non-polar desert.
Obviously it would something of an error to attempt to conduct your desert life in full sunshine, so accordingly the site owners have made sure there’s plenty of shade around, covering everything from cooking facilities to games areas.
There’s a sociable vibe throughout the site as guests gather to cook on the barbecues, eat at long wooden tables and then share in the fun of washing up. After you’ve eaten (or for a long siesta) the shaded lounge area is the place to be – relax on a comfy chair or challenge your fellow guests to a game of pool, table football or billiards.
The outdoor swimming pool provides another good place to cool off from the desert heat, and there’s a terrace around it with sun loungers where you can relax (in the sun or the shade) after your dip.
Alfresco life is great, but most guests tend to appreciate an indoor toilet, and so the bathrooms here have an indoor/outdoor mix of facilities that allows you to clean your teeth in the open air but have a little undercover privacy for toilets, showers and baby bath facilities.
The climate may be desert-like but you’re not stranded from civilisation here. 15 minutes away is the oasis town of Pica, where you can buy food in the supermarkets or eat out in a range of restaurants.
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Leisure on park
Bar or club house
Indoor swimming pool
Outdoor swimming pool
Amenities on park
Ice pack freezing
Parent & baby washroom
Pick-up from public transport
Propane/gas cylinders available
Touring and motorhomes
Tourer storage facilities
Barbecue grills allowed
Commercial vehicles allowed
Dogs allowed all year
Single-sex groups welcome
Student groups welcome
Convenience store nearby
Nearby farmers' market
Public transportation nearby
Tiny (1-10 sites)
A good place to start your exploration of this desert landscape is at the Pampa de Tamarugal National Reserve, half an hour away, where you can see the stark difference between the dry desert and the artifically planted forests. Look out for the Precolumbian geoglyphs around the park – there are 350 of them in total, depicting men, animals and abstract figures.
Pica, 15 minutes’ drive away, is famed for its natural hot springs, where you can have a mud treatment before wallowing in the waters, which reach around 30ºC. If you’ve brought kids with you, leave time to look around the huge statues at the Dinosaur Valley exhibit as well.
Half an hour from the site is the Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works, an atmospheric ‘ghost town’ that was previously one of the region’s largest mining settlements. The place was abandoned in 1960 and left to rack and ruin but has since been declared a national monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s an eerie but memorable experience to walk around the abandoned workers’ quarters, railway and other buildings such as the swimming pool and theatre.
Perhaps surprisingly for the driest place on earth, you can easily escape to the seaside with an hour or so’s drive. Head to the beaches of Iquique for a swim or take a boat trip out from the harbour to see if you can spot sealions, penguins, pelicans and maybe a pod of dolphins if you’re lucky.