The Ojos del Salar is a pair of small lagoons enveloped by breathtaking scenery in the heart of the Atacama Desert. Plan your trip with this insider’s guide. 

It’s not exactly a secret that I love the Atacama Desert: I’ve just returned from my third trip in the region and it never ceases to blow me away. Spending so much time in this spectacular place has also meant that I’ve been able to explore it at my leisure, seeing the well-known spots and lesser-known gems. 

The Ojos del Salar is one such gem – a pair of small, perfectly round pools whose likeness to a pair of eyes give them their name (which translates as the eyes of the salt flats). 

Ready to find out more about these natural curiosities in the heart of the desert? Let’s explore. 

Why Visit Ojos del Salar, San Pedro de Atacama? 

Julianna Barnaby Ojos de Salar Atacama Chile

I mean… why shouldn’t you? When else do you get the chance to plunge into a pair of small lagoons in the middle of a giant salt flat? 

Jump off the banks into the cool lagoons and float on the salty buoyant water – it’s the perfect respite from the fierce desert sun. 

Otherwise, if you’re not into swimming, simply sit back and admire the sunset scenery. 

Top Tip

I would only recommend jumping into the lagoons to confident swimmers since there’s no shallow water and it’s quite an effort to climb back onto the natural banks. One of the lagoons is easier to climb out than the other – check the banks before you jump in! 

What Are the Ojos del Salar? 

 Ojos de Salar Atacama Chile

The Ojos del Salar salt lagoons are dotted in the arid plains of the Atacama Desert, roughly 24 miles (38 kilometres) south of San Pedro de Atacama. It’s literally in the middle of nowhere, encircled by salt and grasslands that foxes use for hiding (cute).

They look like a pair of deep turquoise eyes peering at you, as gleaming white sand chisels its edges. Small reeds and species of algae grow on the banks of the two ojos’ banks, which the stunning flamingos feast on (if you’re lucky, you may even spot a flamingo while you’re there). 

And Where Did They Come From? 

Ojos de Salar Atacama Chile

The eyes of the Salar are outlets for subterranean rivers flowing under the Uyuni Salt Flat, which formed when the ground salts dissolved and the layer collapsed in an area with less salty water. 

What’s more – the waters flowing from the salt flats to create this distinct sight have a high acidic concentration, which the locals believe contains medicinal properties.

These salt-rich lagoons can give you the same floating effect as the iconic Dead Sea. The 20% salt concentration makes this possible, forming part of the vast Atacama Salt Flat (Salar de Atacama), the largest reserve of salt and lithium on Earth. 

Planning Your Visit to Ojos del Salar, de Atacama

Ojos del Salar Address 

There’s no address, but the coordinates are -23.13661099201217, -68.23496418095112

Ojos del Salar Opening Times 

Monday to Sunday: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm. 

Getting There 

You can rent a car in Calama or San Pedro de Atacama. It’s about a 40 minute drive from San Pedro de Atacama. 

Alternatively you can book onto a guided tour of Ojos del Salar. The tour also visits the stunning Laguna Cejar and Tebinquinche. 

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Ojos de Salar Atacama Chile

Ojos del Salar, Atacama Map

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