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What to Know

For those wishing to rent a car in the Atacama Desert, we need to highlight some important points that need your attention before your trip.

Although we believe that the best experience in the destination is in the presence of guides who know the region, we know that some travelers value the experience of traveling by car and exploring the destination independently.

This type of experience is possible in Atacama, but it does require some care, attention and advance planning. Here we’ll outline everything you need to know to rent a car in Atacama.

Where to rent a car in Atacama

The first important point for those who want to rent a car in the Atacama Desert is how far in advance you need to make the reservation and where you will pick up the car.

As the town of San Pedro de Atacama doesn’t have any facilities for this, your car will have to be picked up at Calama Airport. But what not everyone knows is that most of the time there are no cars available for the same day.

Apart from a few exceptions, when cancellations occur, the agencies don’t leave cars ready for reservations made on the spot. When you go to the counter of each agency available at the airport, the answer is the same: without advance booking, the car is only for the following day.

To avoid problems during your trip, it is essential that you book your vehicle in advance. Although it’s possible to book up to a day before picking up the car, we always recommend booking further in advance.

By researching in good time, you’ll be able to get better prices and secure your vehicle safely.

Book a car for your trip

Have your car reservation ready when you arrive at Calama airport

Our suggestion for you to search for prices and make your car reservation online is the platform at RentCars. The site has a system that searches for the best car rental prices at your destination and guarantees a safe booking.

Most of the vehicles available in Calama are large pick-up trucks with 4×4 traction, often used by miners visiting the region.

The cars are usually well maintained and in good condition. Remember to pay close attention to all the details of the vehicle when you pick it up and always, without fail, book insurance cover for the vehicle.

We’ve used RentCars not only in Atacama, but also in other parts of Chile, and we’ve always had good experiences. The platform is secure and the booking process is practical and clear.

Documents needed to rent a car and drive in Chile

Chile does not require an international driving license, however you must present the following documents to rent a car:

– Valid identity card or passport
– Brazilian driver’s license – Carteira Nacional de Habilitação

In addition to carrying the mandatory documents, travelers must be at least 22 years old to rent a car in Chile.

In addition, to rent a car you must present an international credit card that has been authorized for use. This card will provide insurance in case the car breaks down during the trip.

We always recommend that you photograph the car on the day of collection, recording all the details and ensuring extra security for the day of return.

Rent a car with GPS

The Atacama Desert doesn’t have good internet coverage, so relying solely on your cell phone isn’t always a good idea. We recommend that you rent a car with GPS so that you can make the trip without any unforeseen problems.

Book your car safely

Touring Chile by car can yield great travel experiences. To experience this adventure safely and without hassle, we recommend that you always book in advance and on a well-known platform.

A RentCars is our partner and we can safely recommend the booking service. The company operates in more than 160 countries and thousands of destinations around the world, which is why we recommend the platform with transparency.

Just like for booking accommodation and Seguros Promo for travel insurance, every time you rent your car through our links or hire one of these services, you contribute to our work and don’t spend anything extra on it.

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