There is nowhere on earth quite like the spectacular Atacama Desert. With no shortage of adventure seekers and independent travelers, the Atacama has also become a mecca for a mix of different tourists, ranging from hikers to honeymooners. stargazers to families. 

Read more to discover the rare beauty in Northern Chile

There is nowhere on earth quite like the spectacular Atacama Desert. Famed for aridity, the Atacama is proof of life flourishing, despite its harsh conditions. With its desiccated salt flats, inhospitable wildlands and vast lifeless landscapes, it seems almost ‘otherworldly.’ Located in Northern Chile, and sandwiched between the Pacific and the Andes,  its salt plains and boulders push against the borders of Argentina, Bolivia and Peru. Full of jagged ravines and volcano-topped horizons, it is one of the driest places on the planet, yet this alluring world of orange sands and craggy rocks creates an almost mystical atmosphere. It is no surprise that there is little in the way of human development, but it is this isolation and rare beauty that attracts visitors from all over the world. With no shortage of adventure seekers and independent travelers, the Atacama has also become a mecca for a mix of different tourists, ranging from hikers to honeymooners. stargazers to families. 

Green Lake Aerial Shot

Atacama Road Trip

The Explora Lodge is a property like no other, located in the oasis of San Pedro de Atacama, on the beautiful Ayllu de Larache, once inhabited by ancient Atacameño families. San Pedro de Atacama sits in the heart of the desert, making for the perfect base for exploring this fascinating region. Bordered by a volcanic branch of the Andes Mountains, the volcanoes vary in shape and height, with the most striking being Licancabur, Lascar and Sairecabur. Explora have been crafting in-depth explorations and nomadic journeys in South America’s remotest corners for the last 25 years, using their award-winning lodges as bases from which to explore deeply into each territory, using these journeys to drive conservation. 

Each room at the Explora Lodge has been designed to fully take advantage of the silence of the surrounding landscapes, with the Catur Suite being our top pick, boasting views of the countryside through the floor to ceiling windows and balcony. The 42 acre grounds comprise 20 indigenous parcels, some with timeworn pathways and buildings that Explore is committed to preserving out of a profound respect for the area’s original inhabitants. From the moment you step foot in the Explora Lodge, it is clear that every detail has been accounted for, with thoughtful touches to delight the senses. Surrounded by pampas grass and lush vegetation are four interconnected, ambient-temperature pools, ideal for relaxing after a long day exploring the region. Close by there is a sauna and steam bath, as well as open-air jacuzzis and a massage center. 

Of course, no trip to the desert would be complete without an authentic dining experience, and the Explora Lodge will not disappoint. Meals are all included as standard, and each dish has been specially designed to enable guests to go on long explorations and still feel light and agile, and absolutely delicious. Presentation is artistic and thoughtful, and only the finest freshest ingredients are served. Meals are paired with fantastic Chilean wine, with a further selection of premium wines on offer if required. A short walk from the main property is the Quincho, an inviting BBQ area that hosts traditional spit-roasted lamb, beef and fish dishes, perfect for celebrations – all accompanied by Andean music, song and dance performances by local artists.

As night falls in the Atacama Desert, the infinite power of the milky way comes alive, and the earth’s most lunar-like landscape morphs into a dazzling dome of glittering stars. San Pedro de Atacama boasts some of the world’s clearest skies and is one of the best places to practice astronomy. Due to a combination of low humidity, high altitudes and almost no light pollution, the Atacama is home to half of the whole world’s ground-based astronomy projects, yet it’s not only astronomers that get a slice of the action. Explora offers nightly viewings in its observatory, renowned for being one of the best private Chilean observatories in the country. It features an advanced optics telescope, state-of-the-art equipment, and a main mirror with extraordinary resolution and focus. Guests can camp underneath the night sky, whilst learning about orientation, distances and local culture – A truly remarkable experience. 

The activities on offer are not confined to star-gazing, and at Atacama there are endless adventures for guests to indulge in. Exploring the region on foot is a particularly grounding experience, connecting guests to the nature that surrounds them. There are multiple walking expeditions and hikes, through mountain ranges, the foot of volcanoes, River Creeks and much more. For those who would rather something a little more comfortable, there are several overland explorations that tour the region, in specialized 4×4 vans. One of our favorite spots is the Tatio Geysers, taking guests across an important part of the Andean Plateau fanua on the way, and natural hot water springs on the way back. 

Explora Atacama is the only hotel in the area with its own horses, bred and trained especially for Explora’s horse expeditions. The 20 different breeds and crosses have been raised in the Ibáñez family estate in the central valley of Chile. The team is led by an internationally-trained horse expert, and the expeditions are suitable for all levels of riders, taking them through some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world. With warm weather year-round there is no bad time to visit the Atacama Desert, so whether its a summer family holiday, romantic break or Christmas vacation, possibilities in the Atacama are endless.

Atacama Desert Geysers

Atacama Desert Red Sea

Atacama Desert