Introduction

Dust devils zoom wantonly through sun-scorched Norte Grande with its undulating curves of rock and stone, Andean lagoons, snowcapped volcanoes, salt flats and sensuously perforated coastline. Famous as much for its hilltop observatories as its massive copper mines, those vast, uninhabited spaces touch the soul and the imagination. Norte Grande's star attraction is the tiny adobe village of San Pedro de Atacama, just a day trip away from the world's highest geyser field and some astounding desert formations.

But there's more to Norte Grande than San Pedro. Go for lung-bursting, jaw-dropping adventure near the mountain village of Putre in the high-altitude reserve of Parque Nacional Lauca or further afield to Monumento Natural Salar de Surire. Spend a week sunning yourself on the beaches outlying Iquique and Arica, or make your own adventure in the lost ghost towns and hard-sprung mining centers that make this region unique.