I went to San Pedro de Atacama last April 2012 for 4 days.
- Feb-March are perfect, but at night might be a bit cold, so, bring warm clothes because most of tours starts at 4am (a tour to Tatio Gayser was -15 Celsius)
- Biking is a must: everybody prefers bikes, there's a lot of bikes for rent. San Pedro is a small town, perfect for walking or biking.
- Party: there's no discotheque in the desert but during the summer, secrets parties are always at night and it's a must!. Just ask to the Staff in your hostel or waiter/waitress where's the party. (advice: forget about the party if you have booked a tour. Believe me, hangover in 4500mts with -15C° is not funny).
- most of hostel has their own tour agency or asociated agencies.
I stayed at Hostal Rural, I payed $9.000 CLP por night, the location was excelent, the staff was good, helpful and friendly but the hostel only had 2 bathrooms and it wasnt very clean and the beds were not comfy...So I recommend to search a better hostel in hostelworld.com or hostelbookers.com (prices per dorm are around $7.000 and 10.000 CLP). You better read the reviews before booking ;)
Most of hostel have kitchen (I bougth a lot of meals to cook from Calama but was a big mistake, meals were almost the same prices that San Pedro. So, if you want to cook your own meal, buy them in San Pedro stores)
Restaurants..you will find a lot! some of them are very expensive (where the old tourist goes) but there's another that not (where the young backpaker goes). The prices starts from $4.000 CLP for 2 chilean empanadas or 2 pieces of pizza + coke.
About the tours in San Pedro.
Most popular tours are:
- Valle de la Luna y Valle de la Muerte (moon valley and death valley). It's more funny (and cheaper) if you have a travel partner because both can rent bikes and go there biking, but if you go alone i recommend to buy a tour. Most of Moon valley and death valley tours cost $7.000 CLP
- Sandboarding at the Moon valley.
By far, was the funniest experience in San Pedro. There's 2 options: The cheaper: rent a bike and a sandboarding table and go by your own, or, the expensive way: buy a sandboarding tour, that includes the sandboarding table, 1 class and transportation. Most of sandboarding tours cost between $7.000 CLP - $10.000 CLP
- Geyser del Tatio. You will need to buy a tour to get there. The tour starts at 4am. Price: between $12.000 and $18.000 CLP. The entrance is not included in the price ($5.000 CLP).
- Lagunas Altiplanicas (Miscanti and Miñique Lagoons). You will need a tour to get there. the tour starts at 4am. Nice photo tour birdwatching tour. Price: $35.000 CLP, entrance not included ($5.000 CLP)
TO UYUNI (I had plans to go there but never been there, so this info is about the reviews i read in travel forums).
You have 2 options:
The cheaper: buy a 3 days tour to Uyuni in Uyuni, Bolivia. To get there from San Pedro, take a bus or a van early in the morning to Chile-Bolivia border and then take a 4x4 jeep from Bolivian border to Uyuni. The trip takes between 6-8 hours.
Most recommended travel tours are Andrea Tour, Estrella del Sur and Indigena tour. I read the reviews in tripadvisor and viajeros.com
The expensive: buy a 3 days tour to Uyuni in San Pedro.
Have a nice trip!!