If you plan to rent a car in the north of Chile, please take note that our company may offer you car rental services in the following cities: Arica; Iquique; Antofagasta; Calama; San Pedro de Atacama; Copiapo; and La Serena. In all these cities, except San Pedro de Atacama “town”, we may offer car rental companies with offices in the city and airport as well.
There are very few gas stations in the north of Chile (most of them belong to COPEC). If you are planning to rent a car in Arica and drive many days in Putre area, we recommend you rent a pickup truck with an extra gasoline tank (20-liter canister) so you won’t take unnecessary risks running out of gasoline (or diesel) in your trip. The same thing happens if you rent a car in Iquique to visit the surroundings. Please take note that is not legal to take gasoline canisters inside closed cars, only open pickup trucks.
It is very hard to find cars and VANS and city cars in the north of Chile. Most companies that rent vehicles in the Atacama desert, offer pickup trucks, SUVs, and jeeps, although you may also find subcompact cars and compact sedans as well.
If you are into off-road driving, hiring a 4x4 vehicle like a jeep or pickup truck is a must in the north of Chile, especially in the Atacama Desert and Calama and its surroundings. Otherwise, a normal 4x2 (simple traction) car, like a compact sedan or subcompact, will be enough to drive in Chilean good quality main roads and get to know amazing locations like Cejar Lagoon, Chaxsa lagoon, Miscanti altiplanic lagoon, La Portada of Antofagasta, San Pedro de Atacama Death and Moon Valley, Tal Tal, Arica, Putre, and Surire, among other interesting locations.
Please take note that Surire salt lake road is in very bad conditions and a high clearance rental vehicle is recommended if you want to drive in that area.
Even if you rent a 4x4 pickup truck or 4WD jeep, if you want to visit Tatio geysers, we highly recommend you take a tour. The main reason for this is that to get there you must start driving at 4am and there are not many signals on the road to get there.