San Pedro de Atacama

CIEE Santiago Study Tour - Fall Block I

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San Pedro de Atacama is a small town and commune in El Loa Province, Antofagasta  Region. Although known as the driest desert in the world, Atacama is filled with the culture and history of the pre-Hispanic communities known as Atacameños and Aymaras. San Pedro de Atacama is also widely recognized for its geographical richness, such as the topographic phenomena observed in the Licancabur volcano, the Tatio geysers and the archeological sites called the Moon and Death Valleys. For these reasons and more, San Pedro de Atacama more than the driest desert in the world and has a lot to teach about Chile.

SAMPLE ITINERARY

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FRIDAY

VISIT AND TOUR OF THE MOON VALLEY AND SALT MOUNTAIN CHAIN, PART OF THE FLAMENCO NATURAL RESERVE ADMINISTERED BY AN INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY
We will go to the Salt Mountain Range in the Atacama Desert to see one of the most distinctive points in terms of the local geography: The Moon Valley. The name given to this valley immediately makes sense as we start getting further into it. The dominant rock formations shaped by erosion and the salt cloaks over the ground make it feel like being on another planet. By contemplating the sunset from a natural viewpoint, it is possible to see how the desert changes its colors, with great volcanoes in the horizon, offering a breathtaking spectacle.

SATURDAY

VISIT THE LAGOONS: OJOS DEL SALAR, TEBIQUINCHE, CEJAR AND PIEDRA
We will visit a series of lagoons inside the Atacama salt flat, Chile’s largest salt flat. First, we will visit the Ojos del Salar, two deep freshwater wells in the middle of the desert, where you will be able to swim. Then we will visit the Tebinquinche Lagoon, where we will walk along its paths to see the incredible views where the sky merges with the desert. Be sure to wear a swimsuit and bring your towel.

LECTURE ON LOCAL TOURISM INDUSTRY
As we have lunch, we will hear a lecture on the local tourism industry. The discussant will explain the expansion of tourism in San Pedro de Atacama in the last 10 years and its impact on the local economy and community.

SCIENTIFIC AND TRADITIONAL ANDEAN ASTRONOMY TOUR
The Atacama region has one of the clearest skies in the world, which can be observed thanks to the extraordinary diaphanousness of the desert air. We observe the beauty and solemnity of celestial bodies in a unique environment: in the middle of the driest desert of the world. Local guides will help us combine the traditional scientific astronomy with the ancient Andean view of it.  The region’s first astronomers observed the skies here long before the first telescope was used.

SUNDAY

WALKING TOUR OF SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA
Guided walking tour through San Pedro de Atacama town, exploring its key sites and learning about its history, main architectural features, and the challenges which are characteristic of its social organization and day to day life.

 

Free Time Suggestions

Guatín Valley Trekking and Puritama Hot Springs

Leave San Pedro de Atacama to the west until arrive in the Guatín Valley. In this rocky canyon, walk through an of old shepherds’ path, characteristic due to being surrounded by huge and ancient cacti. Continuing on this path, you will arrive in the famous Puritama Hot Springs, with its volcanic thermal waters that reach an average temperature of 33 °C.

Bike to Pukará de Quitor

Visit Aldea de Tulor, one of the oldest archaeological sites in northern Chile. This small village was buried for hundreds of years under the sands of the desert until the Jesuit Gustavo Le Paige discovered it. Then visit Pukará of Quitor, fortress of Atacama built in the 12th century on the hill with the same name, in the south hillside of the Salt Range and alongside the San Pedro River. Book the trip with a local agency.

Geysers Del Tatio

Go up through the hills and mountains of the Andes and after 1.5 hours arrive at the El Tatio Geysers, a unique natural spectacle, with 80 steaming geysers at an elevation of 4,200 meters. Book this trip at local tourism agencies.

WHAT ARE THE STUDY TOUR LEARNING OBJECTIVES?

The intercultural learning objectives of the study tour curriculum—delivered in two parts, pre- and post-tour—are to promote cultural self-awareness, cultural literacy, and the ability to bridge cultural gaps. Through activities and exercises, students are encouraged to consider issues of culture, identity, values, beliefs and assumptions. Ultimately, students develop competencies to experience new and unfamiliar experiences without relying on stereotypes and heuristics.

Each study tour should achieve learning objectives in each academic track whereby students can:

ARTICULATE some of their own values and beliefs, and explain how these values and beliefs, as well as their experiences, have shaped their own views surrounding politics and international
relations in general.

RECOGNIZE diversity and difference within the local cultural context, and be able to compare and contrast this with the diversity that exists in other contexts with which they may be familiar.

IDENTIFY at least two ways in which practices surrounding media in the host environment are culturally-influenced and/or ways that media practices in the host environment impacts culture.

EVALUATE at least two ways in which social and cultural factors in the host environment have influenced values, beliefs, assumptions, or practices surrounding local healthcare.

DECONSTRUCT their own assumptions and values and analyze how these shape their views on international business. In addition to achieving learning objectives in the academic tracks a study tour presents opportunities to support students understanding the cultural beings of Self and Other. These include developing abilities to self-reflect and become more self-aware, increase their understanding of the salient values in their previous and current environment, and develop their capacity for the awareness of others in their previous and current cultural context.

Santiago, Chile

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