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Stays of Distinction

Explora Atacama

Chile

5 days

Summary

The Atacama Desert is a plateau in Northern Chile, composed of 128,000 km2 of stony terrain, salt lakes, and felsic lava. It’s the driest desert on Earth, and it is its unique topography and clear skies that make it one of the most astounding places on Earth. Explora Atacama deluxe hotel provides its guests with an all-inclusive program to explore this fantastic region. The hotel has a great location and boasts panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and volcanoes. There are 50 rooms, all designed to blend in with the landscape and offer views to the beautiful gardens. Unlike many hotels, the rooms at explora do not have televisions or Wi-Fi so you can better connect with your surroundings.

Furthermore, there are four swimming pools, sauna, steam baths, and outdoor hot tubs where you can relax. Mealtimes have the most exquisite detail along with the impeccable service and comfort. They only use local ingredients for most meals, and a superb Chilean wine always accompanies them.

Massive dunes, salt pans, impressive volcanoes and cloudless skies inspired the design of their 40 exclusive explorations. You may choose to go by van, horseback, bicycle or foot. The expeditions at explora Atacama can be a couple of hours long or a full day; gentle or more physically demanding. It has an in-house stable with specially trained horses as well as an in-house observatory which are exclusive to guests. San Pedro de Atacama is within walking distance, and visitors have exclusive access to the Puritama Hot Springs. Contours Travel suggests a minimum stay of four nights to explore this area.

Highlights

  • Experience the magic of the Atacama Desert from this luxurious all-inclusive lodge
  • Choose from an extraordinary selection of excursions, including scenic journeys by car, hiking, cycling and horseback rides
  • Relax in the spa at the end of the day, with four, interconnected, ambient-temperature pools, sauna and steam bath facilities, and open-air Jacuzzis
  • Enjoy outdoor bbq’s under the stars in the traditional Quincho area
  • Explora has a private observatory so you can experience the incredible night sky during your stay, with nightly viewings
  • Explora’s kitchen uses the best ingredients to create healthy and delicious meals, paired with excellent Chilean wine
  • The best destination for horse lovers, with over 20 horses raised and trained at a renowned ranch in Central Chile

Inclusions

  • Accommodation in selected room and all meals with Open Bar (includes mineral water, sodas, juices, house wine and liquors). Premium wines and vintage liquors available for an additional cost
  • Return transfer airport/ hotel/ airport
  • Two half-day excursions or one full day excursion daily in small groups with other guests
  • Wi-Fi service in public areas

ITINERARY

Day 1 Calama/San Pedro de Atacama

On arrival into Calama Airport you will be met and transferred to Explora Atacama. In the evening, one of the guides will meet with you in the lodge bar to tell you about the explorations planned for the following day and help you with the difficult task of choosing between the different options, all of them exciting.
Explora offers over 30 different explorations. On foot or horseback or by bicycle, a couple of hours to a full day, gentle or more physically demanding. Explorations are safe and made up of groups with a maximum of 8 people, accompanied by an expert bilingual guide. All guides speak excellent Spanish and English.
The Atacama Desert has one of the clearest skies in the world so tonight head to the astronomical observatory. Begin in the open sky with a brief explanation of the stars and the main constellations to then observe them using a telescope.

Day 2 San Pedro de Atacama

Day to explore Atacama. Suggested excursion options include:
– Atacama Salt Plains: a great option for your first exploration, as no acclimatisation is required. Transfer to the town of Toconao and take a gentle 45-minute walk towards Laguna Chaxa. Enjoy great views over the salt plains, with opportunities to see flamingos at some times of the year.
– Yerba Buena Petroglyphs: visit the petroglyphs in Yerba Buena before continuing to Rio Grande, one of the prettiest small towns in the Atacama region. Return by van to the hotel.
– Devil’s Gorge: a steep uphill drive will bring you to the Vilama lookout point, with panoramic views of volcanoes. Hike along Cordillera del Sal and then descend through Devil’s Gorge, surrounded by stunning rock formations.
– Ayllus (horseback ride): ride to the ayllus located in Séquitor, Yaye, and Checar, Atacameño social and farming communities that are also considered a small oasis in the middle of the desert. Here, vegetable gardens and the Atacama construction technique using adobe and straw roofs still prevail.

Day 3 San Pedro de Atacama

Another day to explore the region with your specialist guide. Suggested excursion options include:
– Altiplano Salt Plains: depart by van to the southern part of the Altiplano where you can see Miscanti Minique Lagoon, Aguas Calientes and Tuyayito Lagoon at over 39,60m above sea level. After a short walk, we’ll have lunch before returning to the hotel.
– Kari Ravine Canyon: hike through the ravine, a small canyon formed by water erosion, surrounded by enormous salt walls.
– Kamur: travel to the Valley of the Moon for stunning views over this otherworldly landscape and the Cordillera del Sal.

Day 4 San Pedro de Atacama

Another day to explore the region with your specialist guide. Suggested excursion options include:
– Copacoya: travel by van to El Tatio geothermal fields. From here we hike an ancient road with panoramic views of volcanoes. Descend to the bottom of a gorge and then hike uphill, until reaching a windy saddle with rewarding views. Picnic lunch at Tatio Geysers and return to the hotel.
– Biking Cejar Lagoon: an easy ride to the Atacama Salt Plains area until reaching a set of lakes where Cejar Lagoon is located. Time for a dip in the salty waters, before returning to the hotel.
– Horseback ride to Quitor Fortress: an easy ride through the northern oasis to the viewing place of the Quitor Fortress. Pass the Cordillera del Sal on your return to the hotel.
– Tatio Geysers: take a van to the Tatio Geysers. Along the way, an important part of the Andean Plateau fauna –including vicuñas, flamingos, foxes, and others– can be appreciated. We walk across the reserve with views to the Andes Mountain Range and the hot water springs from where steam rises. Return by van.

Day 5 San Pedro de Atacama

Transfer from San Pedro de Atacama to Calama Airport for your onward flight.

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