Amidst an otherworldly landscape, you’ll travel among salt lakes and hot springs, volcanoes and lush oasis in the highest and driest desert in the world. Red snow-capped volcanoes merge with pastel colored desert expanses that are interrupted only by the outlines of the hills, salt formations, and giant dunes. Hike among sand dunes and bizarre rock formations of the Valley of the Moon, observe flamingos and experience extra buoyancy in the saline lagoons of the Atacama, mountain bike desert trails through red-rock canyons, walk among the ruins of ancient pre-Columbian villages, watch the daily eruption of the Tatio geysers and photograph the ever-changing colors of the amazing scenery. Time your visit to coincide with a New Moon and you’ll have the chance to observe some of the clearest and most brilliant night skies in the Southern Hemisphere.
We work with a selection of three unique properties that each offer an all-inclusive experience in the Atacama Desert. Stays range from 3-5 nights (or more upon request) and the character, location, and excursions differ slightly from lodge to lodge. Detailed pricing and links to the accommodations are found under the accommodations tab.
Day 1: Arrive in Santiago - Fly to Atacama Desert
Morning arrival into Santiago via your international flight or onward connection within Chile. After clearing customs and collecting luggage, check in with your LAN flight to Calama. Upon arrival airport reception by lodge staff and transfer to the hotel. Participation in an afternoon excursion is dependent upon flight arrival time. Otherwise relax and refresh, enjoy dinner and overnight at the lodge of your choice. One of the guides will discuss the various excursions you can select over the next few days. At Explora Hotel de Lareche and Alto Atacama, excursions are generally conducted in small groups and half and full-day options are available at various activity levels. Awasi Lodge provides private guides who customize each day for you personally.
The northern skies of Chile are famous for being some of the clearest in the world. The combination of an extremely dry climate, high altitude and the distance from any source of environmental or light pollution makes them a perfect and clear window into the Universe. Consider partaking in an astronomy tour one evening – an hour in length and offered ever night except during the week of the full moon.
Days 2 - 5: Atacama Desert Explorations
Four full days of exploring the fascinating Atacama geology, fauna and culture. Choose from a variety of excursions, catering to different interests and activity levels. Visit the high mountain-village of Chiu-Chiu, trek across expansive salt flats, observe the incredible Taito Geysers, hunt for petroglyphs along sandstone cliffs, float in saline lagoons and enjoy an easy mountain bike ride through the Katarpe Valley. The Valley of the Moon offers some of the best hiking and most dramatic scenery in the Atacama. Day ventures to Laguna Chaxa include a visit to the Reserva Nacional los Flamencos, excellent for observing flamingos and other birds. Extreme adventure enthusiasts can attempt to climb some of the Atacama’s five major volcanoes, ranging from 17,300-19,712’ (acclimatization days are required.) Mountaineering and some other excursions into the Andes have an acclimatization requirement so be sure to liaise directly with your guides to plan your time accordingly. Explora Lodge has several explorations that include horseback riding.
Alto Atacama, located in a protected canyon outside of San Pedro de Atacama, also offers complimentary transport into the town of San Pedro between 8:30 – 23:30 if you want to explore on your own one evening. Continued overnights at Atacama Desert Lodging.
Day 6: Departure
After breakfast, transfer to the Calama airport for your afternoon flight to Santiago for international departure or onward travel.