Car Rental in Calama

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Calama, Chile
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Driver's country of residence is United States of America (USA) and age is 30-65
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500+ Trusted Suppliers:

Cheapest Car Rental Rates

Calama El Loa Airport Car Rental
Hyundai Venue or similar
Hyundai Venue
  • 5
  • 2
  • 5
  • A/C
  • Auto.
$92.73 per day
Calama El Loa Airport Car Rental
Peugeot 2008 or similar
Peugeot 2008
  • 5
  • 2
  • 5
  • A/C
  • Man.
$110.56 per day
Calama El Loa Airport Car Rental
Hyundai Venue or similar
Hyundai Venue
  • 5
  • 2
  • 5
  • A/C
  • Auto.
$112.15 per day
The above prices are only approximate and were last updated at 06:27 on 2022-11-29. Prices may vary based on the booking dates, length of rental, and car class.

Travel Information

Traffic direction
Country code
Economy car rental price
$54.33 / per day
Average car rental length
2 days
Speed limit within town
40 - 60 km/h
25 - 37 mi/h
Speed limit out of town
80 - 100 km/h
50 - 62 mi/h
Acceptable limit of BAC

Why rent a car in Calama?

The Atacama desert, where Calama Airport is located, is a fascinating place to visit. Home to otherworldly landscapes, boiling geysers, and the beautiful Los Flamencos National Reserve, it is a truly unique travel destination. After taking in everything the Atacama has to offer, you can get in your rental car and travel to explore the rest of Northern Chile from Incan sites and old cities in the interior to surf towns on the Pacific coast. 

Calama Car Rental

One-Way Car Rentals in Calama

The most popular one-way rental options for pick up in Calama and drop off in another city include:

  • From Calama to Santiago - 2 offers from $139.54 per day
  • From Calama to Arica - 2 offers from $113.61 per day
  • From Calama to Antofagasta - 2 offers from $97.87 per day

Top ways to enter Calama

  • El Loa Airport: Located in the city of Calama, but serving all of the surrounding region, El Loa is the international airport that’s closest to the Atacama Desert. The airport mainly provides domestic connections but also hosts a flight to and from Lima, the capital of neighboring Peru. El Loa Airport is 6 km (4 miles) south of Calama city center and 100 km (62 miles) from San Pedro de Atacama, the main gateway to the desert and its natural attractions; the latter can be reached in just over one hour.
  • Antofagasta Airport: Also known as Andrés Sabella Gálvez Airport and Cerro Moreno Airport, it serves Antofagasta, the largest city in northern Chile. Like El Loa Airport, it offers flights to and from other destinations in Chile as well as in Peru. Located 330 km (205 miles) from San Pedro de Atacama, the airport can be reached in about 3 hours and 20 minutes.
  • Iquique Airport: Iquique Diego Aracena Airport, located even farther north than Antofagasta, handled over 1.3 million travelers in 2018. The airport hosts many domestic flights and also provides connections with Bolivia, Argentina, and Paraguay. About 440 km (273 miles) northwest of San Pedro de Atacama, this airport can be reached in about 5 hours and 10 minutes.
  • Santiago Airport: Serving the Chilean capital, Santiago Arturo Merino Benitez Airport handled more than 23 million travelers in 2018. In addition to domestic and South American connections, it also offers flights to and from North America, Europe, and Australia. By far the busiest airport in the country, it is the first point of entry for many travelers coming to Chile. Although it is possible to drive from Santiago all the way north to San Pedro de Atacama, the distance is almost 1,700 km (1,055 miles) and would take some 20 hours. While the road would take you through many spectacular places and you can also break it up the trip into three to four days, an easier option can be to catch one of the many daily flights from Santiago to Calama.

City facts

  • Located at the height of 2,400 m (8,000 ft), San Pedro de Atacama has a cold desert climate. Days are warm year-round, with an average high temperature of 19°C  (66°F) in June, the coolest month. The temperature at night, however, can get very cold and the temperature does get significantly below 0°C (32°F) every winter.
  • Receiving practically no precipitation, Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on the planet. Organizations like NASA, the European Space Exploration Program, and others have used the area for research as it is the most similar habitat to Mars found on Earth. NASA’s High Lakes project also conducts research in the area to understand how different life forms adapt to survival in extreme weather conditions. 
  • Despite the extreme weather conditions, the Atacama Desert has been inhabited by humans for thousands of years. The ancient Chinchorro culture, although primarily based in coastal areas, did venture inland (they are known for their unique mummification practices and some of the mummies can be observed in different Chilean museums). Later, the Atacameño people were based in the desert and altiplano of Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia. The area eventually became a part of the Incan Empire, then the Spanish Empire, and finally independent Chile (and its neighboring countries). Today, the Antofagasta Region (where most of the Atacama is located), has a population density of 4.8 people per square kilometer, comparable to that of Mongolia and lower than Australia’s. 
  • Important: With many sites in the area located 4,000-5,500 m (13,000-18,000 ft) above sea level, altitude sickness is a very real danger that can affect any traveler. Try to avoid steep ascents, do not travel to remote areas without a trustworthy guide, and keep the contact information and address of a local medic in San Pedro de Atacama at hand.

Top destinations and activities

  • Valle de la Luna. The Moon Valley is an awesome place to visit. The area is home to many impressive observation points, the Grand Crater, salt caves, as well as otherworldly rock formations. Located just about 7 km (4 miles) west of San Pedro de Atacama, Valle de la Luna can be reached in about 20 minutes.
  • Cejar. a high altitude salt lake, known locally as the Dead Sea due to its similarities to actual Dead Sea, Cejar overlooks the Andes and the salt flat of the Atacama and offers amazing views of them both. It is possible to swim in this lake in which one cannot drown because of the incredibly high concentration of salt, in addition to a couple of freshwaters lake nearby. Located about 22 km (13.6 miles) south of San Pedro, Cejar takes 30 minutes to reach.
  • Star Tour. Due to its remote highland location and the fact that there are no large settlements in the area, the Atacama is one of the best spots on earth for stargazing. As mentioned above, it is done professionally by different space agencies, but tourists can also go on a tour to marvel at different planets and galaxies and learn about space exploration. The star tours take place right in San Pedro and you can learn more about them here
  • Chuquicamata Mine. For decades, mining has been the most important industry around Calama. Visiting Chuquicamata, the largest open pit copper mine in the world, can feel as otherworldly as enjoying the natural landscapes of the area. The tours to the mine are free and take place in both Spanish and English, but you need to visit the local tourism office to book in advance — or write to

Traffic and parking

  • Chile drives on the right-hand side of the road.
  • The speed limits in Chile are 100-120 km/h (62-75 mph) on highways (depending on each highway), 80-100 km/h (50-62 mph) on most other intercity roads, and 60 km/h (36 mph) inside urban and built-up areas.
  • Many cities in Chile have special bus-only lanes. Many have video surveillance, so even if you are not caught using one, your rental car provider might receive a fine afterward that you will have to pay.
  • Chile has, on average, some of the best road conditions in South America. Nonetheless, some rural roads remain in poor condition, so it is best to drive cautiously outside cities. Cattle crossing the road can also be an issue in the countryside. 
  • Although Chile has a large number of gas stations, the huge distances and the many remote areas means that it is still quite possible to run out of gas in an uninhabited area. Because of this, it is important to plan out your route and to calculate the distances in advance. 
  • Self-service in the Chilean gas stations is forbidden by law - you will have to ask the employee of the gas station.
  • The legal alcohol limit is 0.03% for experienced drivers and 0.00% for novice drivers. Exceeding the limit can lead to large fines and even imprisonment of 60 to 300 days.
  • Proof of insurance and the car’s documentation needs to be in the car whenever you’re driving.
  • When you are driving, you need to have your passport or ID card with you at all times.
  • The emergency numbers in Chile are 131 for an ambulance, 132 for fire brigade, and 133 for police. 

Toll roads

  • Most highways, as well as many secondary roads in Chile, are subject to tolls. The rates and payment methods vary from road to road. Most use the toll booths (the booths are known as peajes in Spanish). In this case, you will have to pay a toll, usually in cash as many booths don’t accept credit cards, upon entering the toll road. You will receive a receipt that you will have to present upon leaving the road. The toll is usually fixed and doesn’t depend on the length of your travel. The tolls are often raised during the weekends and public holidays.
  • In the capital city of Santiago, most rental cars come equipped with an electronic transponder or Tag that will automatically register your car when passing through a toll gate. It is important to note that the Tag system does not cover roads outside of Greater Santiago, so even if you get a transponder in Santiago, you will stay have to pay separately for the toll roads outside the capital. 
  • The Tag service is usually prepaid for the number of days that you will use the rental car, with the price included in the initial rental car price, although this may vary from provider to provider - some will charge you for the transponder after you return the rental car. Some rental car providers might charge an additional fee for providing the transponder. It is important to ask your rental car provider in advance about the toll roads in Chile and the best available means of payment. Learn more about the Tag system on its official website (available only in Spanish).
  • If your rental car doesn’t come with an electronic transponder, you can buy a day pass, known as pase diario. Most malls and gas stations in the Santiago area sell these day passes. 

Ideas for a day-trip

  • Miscanti Lake. A high altitude lake, Miscani is overlooked by a majestic mountain of the same name that is more than 5,600 m (29,500 ft) high. A number of other lakes and lagoons, like Miñiques and Chaxa, can also be found nearby. The surreal landscapes alone are enough of a reason to visit, but the surrounding area is also dotted with a couple of nearby villages where you can try the local cuisine. Some 115 km (71 miles) south of San Pedro, Miscanti takes 90 minutes to reach.
  • El Tatio. Located at the height of about 4,200 m (13,800 ft), the geyser of El Tatio is one of the largest and the highest in the world. Of all the landscapes and sites in the area, El Tatio might be the most impressive one. There are many tour companies offering to take you to the geyser, but it’s also possible to drive there with your own rental car. Located some 80 km (50 miles) north of San Pedro, El Tatio takes about 90 minutes to reach.
  • Los Flamencos National Reserve. Although some of the aforementioned sites are technically a part of Los Flamencos, the reserve deserves special mention in its own right. This is the place where you can escape the larger tour groups, appreciate the local flora and fauna, and truly take in the incredible nature of the area. The reserve is not only home to different sub-species of flamingos which give it its name, but also to other unique wildlife like the southern viscacha (a colorful rodent resembling a rabbit), Andean zorro fox, Andean condor, and puna tinamou bird. Located about 100 km (62 miles) east of San Pedro, Los Flamencos takes some 90 minutes to reach.
  • Memorial for '73 Disappeared. Like everywhere else in the country, many people in the north of Chile were affected by the terror of the Pinochet regime in the 1970s (more than 1,200 people were “disappeared” by the secret police of the military dictatorship). While much smaller than its equivalent in Santiago, this memorial in the desert between Calama and San Pedro honors their memory.

Most popular cars

The most popular rental car in Chile is the Nissan Kicks, closely followed by the Subaru Forester and the Chevrolet D-Max. The most popular rental car types are full size, standard, and compact.

Further destinations

  • Antofagasta. Located at the point where the Atacama Desert meets the Pacific Ocean, Antofagasta is one of the largest cities in northern Chile. Although not usually thought of as a tourist destination, it has plenty for a visitor to enjoy, including beautiful beaches (and animals like sea lions and pelicans which can occasionally be observed on them) and a museum of a former silver refinery. From here, many beach towns and coastal nature can also be reached by going up or down the coast. Located about 310 km (192 miles) from San Pedro de Atacama, Antofagasta takes 3 hours and 40 minutes to reach.
  • Bolivia. Located right on the other side of the border is Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat and a famous travel destination. Many landscapes are similar to those found on the Chilean side, but some, of course, are totally unique. After seeing the desert, you can drive to the legendary mining town of Potosi or perhaps even make your way all the way up to Lake Titicaca. Important: Most rental car providers do not permit crossing the Chile-Bolivia border. However, it is possible to go with public transportation (or a hired local driver) and to pick up a new rental car after arriving in Bolivia. It’s also important to see if you need a visa to enter either Chile or Bolivia and each country has its own visa policy.
  • Argentina. With delicious local food and wine, many mountain villages, opportunities for adventure sports, and even higher Andean peaks than on the Chilean side of the border, Argentina is an awesome travel destination. Jujuy, the first large city if coming from Chile which is located at the edge of the Calilegua National Park, is 475 km (295 miles) southeast of San Pedro and can be reached in about six hours. As with Bolivia, ask your rental car provider in advance if they permit you crossing the border and check to see if you need a visa to enter Argentina.
  • Arica. The northernmost city in Chile, Arica is often seen as a gateway to Peru but can be a fascinating destination in its own right. The city is best known for its beaches which offer not just tanning, but also some of the best surfing waves in all of the country. Other attractions include ancient petroglyphs (located next to the Archaeological Museum), as well as the stunning Lauca National Park some 150 km (93 miles) to the east. The drive from Calama to Arica takes about seven hours.

Car Rental Prices in Calama

  • Large cars - from $193 per day
  • SUVs - from $109 per day

Money-saving tips

Increase your chances of landing a great rental car by following these tips:

  • Compare the rates of different rental car providers
  • Book your rental car well in advance
  • Plan your route before you go
  • Know your fuel and mileage requirements
  • Visit during the month when the rental prices are the cheapest. According to our data, visiting Calama is the cheapest in August when renting a car is about 37% cheaper than the yearly average and a whole 51% cheaper than renting a car in May. 

Top 4 Cities near Calama

  1. La Serena Car Rentals from $100.70 per day
    856.7 km / 532.3 miles away
  2. Antofagasta Car Rentals from $77.61 per day
    189.4 km / 117.7 miles away
  3. Iquique Car Rentals from $77.61 per day
    283.9 km / 176.4 miles away
  4. Arica Car Rentals from $89.05 per day
    484.4 km / 301.0 miles away

Top 12 Locations near Calama

  1. 2.8 km / 1.8 miles away
  2. 186.7 km / 116.0 miles away
  3. 254.2 km / 157.9 miles away
  4. 484.6 km / 301.1 miles away
  5. 854.6 km / 531.0 miles away
  6. 1187.9 km / 738.1 miles away
  7. 1224.3 km / 760.8 miles away
  8. 1635.7 km / 1016.4 miles away
  9. Temuco Airport Car Rentals from $38.81 per day
    1859.7 km / 1155.6 miles away
  10. 2140.8 km / 1330.2 miles away
  11. 2583.3 km / 1605.2 miles away
  12. 3395.3 km / 2109.7 miles away

Map of Car Rental Locations

Which is the cheapest month to rent a car in Calama?

Car rental prices in Calama vary a lot according to the time of year. This graph compares month-to-month price changes to help you find the best offer.
Average Rental Price in Calama
The best month to rent a car in Calama is August (when prices for an Economy class start from $40.34). This is 37% cheaper than the yearly average and 61% cheaper than renting in May (when rental prices start at $102.92 for a Compact class). Knowing this can help you find the best price.

What’s the usual rental length in Calama?

Travel lengths vary from month to month: in February, travelers rent a car for an average of 6 days in January, the average rental period is 4 days.
Average Rental Length in Calama

What's the most popular month to rent a car in Calama?

The most popular month for renting a car in Calama is January, and the least popular is June.
Popularity of Car Rental in Calama by Monthly Searches

Most Popular Car Models of Rental Suppliers

Rental Supplier Model Doors Luggage Type
Keddy VW T-Cross 5 2 SUVs

Our Customers' Reviews

Because we want to make sure each review listed here is left by a real customer, we don’t have an option to post a review here. Instead, we ask each and every customer to leave a review after they return their rental. This way, you know that all reviews are authentic, verified, and trustworthy.

United Kingdom
Hyundai Creta
February 19, 2019
You need a vehicle with a high wheel base as some roads are only dirt.

Car Rental Statistics

Highest rated company
8.98 / 10
Lowest rated company
7.91 / 10
Total rental companies
Average daily price
Lowest daily price
Total cars available

Top 5 Suppliers in Calama in 2022

Exceptional 9 / 6 reviews
Working hours
Mon:09:00-13:30; 14:30-18:30
Tue:09:00-13:30; 14:30-18:30
Wed:09:00-13:30; 14:30-18:30
Thu:09:00-13:30; 14:30-18:30
Fri:09:00-13:30; 14:30-18:30
Sun:09:00-13:30; 14:30-18:30
Excellent 8.6 / 4 reviews
Working hours
Mon:08:30-13:30; 14:30-18:30
Tue:08:30-13:30; 14:30-18:30
Wed:08:30-13:30; 14:30-18:30
Thu:08:30-13:30; 14:30-18:30
Fri:08:30-13:30; 14:30-18:30
Excellent 8.5
El Loa S/N
Working hours
Excellent 8.3
Parq Ind Apiac Galp 18-19
Working hours
Very good 7.9
Aeropuerto El loa S/N
Working hours
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