Northern Chile's Atacama desert is the world's highest and driest and an adventure playground, with excellent hotels. The compact oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama provides true respite from the desert in the form of excellent hotels and a buzzing restaurant, café and bar scene. For culture vultures San Pedro town's Padre Le Paige Archaeological Museum houses over 380,000 artefacts as well as mummies, and displays depicting petroglyphs and rock paintings.
Nearby, the Valley of the Moon with its tiny but beautiful salt ponds and the backdrop of snow-capped volcanoes is a popular destination for sundowners, as the vast sweeping sand dunes glow with the sunset. South of San Pedro, the Los Flamencos Natural Reserve with its attractive highland lagoons Miscanti and Miniques is home to flocks of flamingoes and rare birds in their breeding grounds.