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Atacama Voluntourism

Atacama Service Learning Project

Custom Dates: July, August, September
6 month lead time - arrange by February prior

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For Reservations / Information Call Stewart Toll Free: 1-866-701-2113

To Contact Us Via Email Fill Out Our Web Inquiry Form

Duration: 10 Days, 9 nights
Location: Atacama Region of Chile
Price starting at: $2,700 –Price can vary based on group size.
Program Type: Volutourism, Educational
Meals: Included.

Atacama Desert Cultural Resource Preservation

The Atacama Region receives hordes of tourists each year; the impact is staggering, and lopsided.  Many of the remote towns and regions that receive the spillage from cruise ships and big bus travel benefit only minimally, and the treasures they guard are impacted severely.  Here is our opportunity to rebalance the benefits of tourism to these remote and needful communities in the high Andes of Chile.  We will work with the local community to help them preserve their valuable historic and archaeological resources.

This is a seven day adventure in volunteering.  In addition to visiting some of the staggeringly beautiful destinations of the Atacama, including volcanoes, geysers, high plateaus, and flamingo-filled Andean lakes, you will have an opportunity to assist to preserve and foster sustainability in the indigenous communities of the region.

Project Work

Open Air Museum Work (3 days) We will construct and implement paths to protect the local archaeology, and add in some small signs to give directions through the 2 km of open air museum in the gorge.   We will clear and then mark approximately 500m of the path through the gorge with stones along the side, to enable visits by tourists but protect an archeological patrimony of 900 years artwork from damage.

Petroglyphs Closeby the community, there is a gorge with ancient Artes Rupestres (ancient drawings in the rock of symbols and pictures of devils, llamas, etc.) including petroglyphs. This area is beginning to attract tourism from the region, especially operators in nearby San Pedro de Atacama. There have been various efforts to help the community improve the infrastructure of this area, to help the community to facilitate and formalize their tourism offering to local tour operators. By doing this, the community will be in a position to increase their opportunities to earn money from their natural habitat, including charging an entrance fee to see the petroglyphs, and also ensuring local operators operate responsibly and contract the community’s guides.

Cleaning of the Ghost town (1 day) We will walk to visit the ghost town, about 2 hours away from our host community. From here we will help the local community clearing litter and debris, to make it presentable as a destination to bring tourists too.

Workshop about llamas (1 day) We will learn about llama breeding, help with their maintenance and participate in the shearing of llamas (depending on time of year).

Support Team We will be working with support from the community’s president as well as counting on various other members of support staff.

Community Interaction
The community can be pretty shy. To date they have received only a few groups, and it usually takes time for the group to be accepted into the community. Slowly they the barriers broken and it is always a gradual process of interaction.

Free time
Free time in between the work will be used to learn about the local area, culture and activities within the local community.

-    Exploration of the natural surroundings of the town: visits and treks to local archeological sites including the ghost town.

-    Football match with kids in the local school.

-    Visit to see and buy local handicrafts.

Food Will be prepared by the local community. There will be 3 meals per day. Some supplies will be taken from Calama, but we will mainly share local food with the community.

Shopping There are no shops in the community and so it is important than any personal items / medicines, etc are brought with you before leaving Calama. Local people are likely to sell their own made goods such as woolen handicraft, and there is a house at the bottom of the village that sells locally made handicrafts.


Day 1: Depart US.

Day 2: Arrival Santiago – Salar de Atacama – Laguna Chaxa – Indigenous village (Depart early morning)

Upon arrival in Santiago de Chile airport, we will make a connection to take a flight straight to Calama. From Calama, our private transport will take us to an indigenous village where our service project will take place. On our way there, we will visit the Salar de Atacama – the largest salt flat in the world and we will stop for a quick visit to the Laguna Chaxa where we will have a talk with local park rangers about the salt flats and see wild flamingos in their natural habitat.

The Atacama Desert in an area where it seems impossible that any form of life could survive, lies a small oasis surrounded by a host of natural beauties which captivate the mind, body and soul of those in search of new adventures. The driest desert in the world has a collection of secrets just waiting to be discovered. From salt flats, hot water springs to geysers, volcanoes and indigenous oases…

Days 2 – 6: Volunteer Project Phase

Duration 5 days

Location Atacama desert.

This small indigenous community is located 60km from Calama, in the Atacama desert – the driest desert in the world. It is a small village close to the base of the Volcano Lasca with just 14 families who grow agricultural goods and sell them in the neighboring villages. The local people live very humbly here with few facilities, and are traditionally llama herders.

Day 7: Indigenous community – Toconao – Laguna Cejas – Moon Valley – San Pedro

Day 8: San Pedro de Atacama – Tatio Geysers – Calama

Day 9: Santiago de Chile walking or bicycle tour

Day 10: Arrive in US

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