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Campfire Comfort

The campfire is an integral part of the Atacama Crossing. Nurtured and tended by our local staff, who keep a constant kettle of water boiling, the fire could be counted as the greatest luxury at a 4 Deserts event. After a hard day in the desert, there is nothing quite like the camaraderie and comfort provided by the fire. An opportunity to meet fellow competitors, swap tips, marvel at some of the ingenious meals being prepared and ease sore limbs. Before competitors awake in the morning the fire is rekindled and the kettle boiled for breakfast - a blissful cup of tea or coffee and a bowl of porridge are perennial favourites to savour as the sun rises.

Flags For All Nations

The Atacama Crossing is a truly international event with over 40 nationalities expected to be represented. To welcome each and every competitor, we make sure that we fly the flag of every competitor's nation at the start and finish lines of each stage. Our flags are handmade by a traditional sailmaker, Mr. Poon, who lives and works in Hong Kong. Mr. Poon is a master in his trade, having originally been trained to make sails for junks that used to ply the South China Seas.

Specially Made Tents

The 4 Deserts uses Bedouin style tents specially made in Egypt for the Atacama Crossing. The tradition of tent-making in Egypt is centuries old and the quality of the canvas and design means that the tents are robust in the harshest of conditions and last for years. The tent design includes windows and venting that can capture breezes during the heat of the day but that are also reassuringly draft-proof during cold nights and even sandstorms.

World Class Volunteers

Volunteers are carefully selected from around the world to ensure a variety of nationalities, language abilities, fitness levels and general experiences working in challenging conditions. Approximately four volunteer applications are received for every available position. View our Atacama Crossing volunteer team.

Local Expertise

The 4 Deserts employs a team of local Chilean staff on the ground, many of whom we have worked on the Atacama Crossing since its inaugural event in 2004. These Chileans are an integral part of the Atacama Crossing, facilitating our relationships with government agencies and community leaders. They provide invaluable local expertise and the manpower necessary for keeping the event moving each day and the camps working without hitch each evening.

Local Chilean drivers ensure that media, management and volunteer teams are transported safely around the course. Drivers also help media personnel reach the best vantage points on the course to shoot the race.


Checkpoints are spaced at approximately 10 kilometer intervals, with the final checkpoint of the day being the finish line and campsite. At each checkpoint, competitors are supplied with 1.5 liters of water as well as shade and a place to rest. Once all competitors have passed through the checkpoint, it is dismantled. No trace of the checkpoint is left in the desert.

A Path Of Pink Flags

A course team works around the clock to mark all 250-kilometers of the course using mostly small pink flags to make the route as visible as possible. Other course markings include pink ribbon, chalk spray, reflective tape and glowsticks. Competitors must follow these markers from checkpoint to checkpoint.

The Glowing Path

The 4 Deserts uses up to 3,000 glowsticks to mark the Atacama Crossing course at dusk and throughout the dark hours of night. The glowsticks guide the way for competitors during The Long March, offering maximum light while withstanding the heat and other harsh elements of the desert.


The Cybertent is the competitors' lifeline to the outside world. The tent is a unique concept in multi-day stage races as a place for competitors to read emails and blog comments that have been sent to them over the preceding 24 hours. Competitors have the option to send emails and update blogs from the Cybertent at each campsite at the end of the day's stage. The blogs endure as a permanent archive of their experiences in the desert and are accessible through the race website.


There is a fast growing global community interested in 4 Deserts races - not only friends, family, supporters and former competitors, but also a fanbase of people inspired by the dream of one day competing. To keep up with the demands of this expanding community, we are constantly developing our media capabilities.

The 4 Deserts uses a combination of satellite and mobile communications to distribute content from the races to our website and to broadcasters around the world. During each stage of the race we post hourly updates to the website about race leaders and individual competitors. We also post daily video highlights captured by staff, and volunteers.

At least 150 photographs are uploaded daily from the race capturing the locations, highlights and spirit of the event. We also distribute daily features about competitors and the locations as well as stage updates on the race website. Overall positions and timings are logged on the website as soon as possible after the last competitor crosses the finish line of each stage.

Leave No Trace

Catering to the needs of 200 people in the Atacama Desert and making sure that we leave no trace of their presence is an important part of putting on the Atacama Crossing. Fortunately, our competitors are overwhelmingly attentive to this matter and make this task as easy for us as possible. We institute a system of time penalties for any competitor seen littering. Sweepers also follow behind the final competitors removing course markers and remaining litter from the ground.

Finisher Medals

Only those who successfully complete each stage of Atacama Crossing will receive a medal at the finish line in the central square of San Pedro de Atacama. The 4 Deserts specially designs the medals and has them manufactured in Malaysia which is renowned as having the world's best pewter.

Expedition Foods

Expedition Foods is the official food partner for the Atacama Crossing. Expedition Foods pioneered the concept of expedition foods by providing highly nutritious, flavorsome, easy-to-store and prepared foods and has built a reputation on quality, service and choice, boasting arguably the largest range of meals available in Europe. Expedition Foods' 800 Kcal range is the highest calorie to weight food available on the market. The Expedition Foods objective is to provide a mix of traditional meals with dishes from around the globe. The diverse menu, which appeals to all tastes, is coupled with continual innovation and product development.