There are no dangerous or poisonous animals or plants in the Atacama desert. Typical “tropical” health problems are not an issue (mosquitos, malaria, yellow fever). To avoid simple stomach upsets, you should avoid to drink untreated water. Live is safe in Chile.
However, you may consider to get a special international health insurance in any case.
The only but serious problem in northern Chile, the Atacama desert and the high Cordillera is the intense sunlight. In San Pedro, we will be at around 2400 m elevation. There is almost no moisture or dust in the atmosphere at already at such elevation you MUST protect yourself from UV sunlight radiation. The excursions will go well above 4000 m and complete protection from sunlight is essential
Bring sunscreen lotion (no less than SPF 50) and a hat that covers your ears and neck. US-style baseball caps are entirely useless (apart from their looks). A light necktie is recommended to cover your neck and keep cold wind away.
In general, food diet in Chile is fully appropriate to our species as onmivores, i.e. includes meat and fish along with everything else. If you have any issues with allergies or require vegetarian food, please let us now. We can try to accommodate these needs but cannot promise to be successful.
Remember, early September in the Atacama is late winter in a desert environment between 2400 and 4500 m. Rain is very rare. Daytime temperature will be below 20°C in the shadow, but sunlight will be intense. Nights will be cold, near 10°C.
Bring warm coats and pullovers.
Equipment for field trips
The one-day conference field trips will require serious sun protection and regular warm clothing with good protection against wind. Heavy field boots will nit be required (but are recommended)
The two post-conference field trips will be at 4500 m and above on a daily basis, with strong sun, wind and cold temperatures below zero °C at night. Warm clothing, wind protection, gloves, scarfs and real field boots are required, waking sticks recommended.
Accommodation will be in doubles or triples in clean but simple rooms, I expect that we can manage “in situ”.