Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa

Sample Itinerary—Desert Treasures

Curated exclusively for National Geographic

From your stunning base camp amid the sweeping landscapes of the Atacama Desert, set out to explore the red-rock formations, volcanoes, geysers, and flamingo-speckled salt pans.

Your experience at the lodge will be tailored to your interests. The sample itinerary below was designed for National Geographic travelers and can be customized as you wish.

Highlights

  • Take an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of the property with a lodge manager, and walk through the garden to learn about indigenous plants and their medicinal qualities (National Geographic Exclusive).
  • Set off on guided excursions into the surprising desert landscapes of northern Chile, from steaming geyser fields to glittering salt pans.
  • Saddle up (Western style) and ride across the desert on horseback.
  • Go stargazing with an astronomy expert under one the world’s clearest, darkest skies.

Day 1—Arrive Atacama Desert, Chile

Arrive at the lodge in the late morning. Meet with guides to plan your stay, then take an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of the lodge with a manager. Learn more about the concept and history behind the lodge's creation, and visit the solar energy and water treatment facilities that help it function sustainably. Then take a walk through the garden, discovering the properties of indigenous plants such as rica rica, a medicinal plant native to the Altiplano. This afternoon, consider heading out on a guided excursion by 4x4 vehicle to see flamingos gather on the vast, shimmering salt flats of the Atacama. Toast your first day in the desert with a refreshing pisco sour from the lodge bar, and enjoy a chef-prepared meal using the best of Chilean ingredients.

Day 2—The Moon and the Stars

After breakfast in the dining room, join your guide for a morning amid the surreal, wind-sculpted landscapes of Moon Valley. Explore its dunes, deep canyons, and lunar rock formations. Return to the lodge for lunch, then take a van or hike along a river gorge to natural hot springs, where you can bathe in one of the driest places on Earth. Ride back to the lodge and freshen up for dinner. Tonight, join an astronomy excursion to stargaze under these world-renowned dark skies.

Day 3—Saddle Up

Discover the desert on horseback. Saddle up (Western style) for a scenic ride on an Atacameñan horse, led by a local guide. Rides can take between two and five hours and can accommodate beginner level to expert. If you’d like, unwind from the adventure at the Uma Spa, where a variety of treatments and water features reinvigorate weary bodies. As the sun goes down on Licancabur volcano, sip cocktails around an open fire on the terrace.

Day 4—Salt Flats and Volcanic Peaks

After breakfast, set off for a daylong excursion to the stunning Tara Salt Flat near the Argentinian border. Ascend the high plateau and spot birds in this colorful wonderland of marshes and salt flats that was designated a wetland of international importance by the Ramsar Convention. Enjoy lunch at Tara Lake, surrounded by towering rock formations, before returning to the lodge. Spend the rest of the day at leisure. Retreat to the garden to relax in a basket swing with a book, go for a dip in the outdoor infinity pool, or simply enjoy the mountain and volcano views from your room. This evening, savor locally sourced cuisine and fine Chilean wine while looking out at sweeping desert landscapes.

Day 5—Geothermal Wonders/Depart

Rise early for an excursion to the El Tatio Geisers, a high-altitude geothermal field where huge steam columns billow nearly 40 feet in the air. On the way back, watch for native wildlife including vicuñas, foxes, vizcachas, and the Andean ostrich. Pay a visit to the unusual alpine village of Machuca, where roofs are made of cactus. Return to the lodge and enjoy a light lunch before departing for the airport.

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