explora ATACAMA


The first European explorers of this area were drawn by tales of a land rich in gold, somewhere to the south of the Inca Empire. It was on this quest that the Spaniard Diego de Almagro, after a dramatic journey across the Andes mountains in which more than half of his men perished, became the first European adventurer to arrive in Chile and walk across the Atacama desert. Just as then, Atacama today continues to be a unique experience, an unforgettable encounter with surroundings rich in traditions, forms and colors.



Opinions vary as to the origin of the word Atacama.

Some believe the word comes from the Tacama duck, a white-breasted bird with black plumage that inhabits the coastline of Chile and Peru. Others trace its etymology to Kunza, one of the indigenous languages of the region. They claim that it comes from the word Atchcamar, which is how the ancient Atacameños referred to the area. Atchcamar means “head of the country” and the Spaniards adapted its pronunciation to the current version of the word: Atacama.

Notable Atacama explorations

1536: Diego de Almagro, Spanish conquistador
1843: Ignacio Domeyko, Polish-Chilean scientist
1854: Rodulfo Philippi, German naturalist