There are so many things to see and do in Chile, that one could easily spend a year uncovering the many delights that this country has to offer, but if like most people, you only have a couple of weeks to travel throughout South America, there’s one place you simply shouldn’t miss, and that is San Pedro de Atacama in the driest desert in the world.
Image Courtesy: Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa
Now considered Chile’s most popular tourist attraction, San Pedro de Atacama is quite unlike anywhere else on earth. The colourful landscapes, enriched with quartz, copper, volcanic rock and salt, give this small town a magical and mystical feel, and with endless geysers, hot springs, salt flats, and hiking trails to keep you entertained, it is the perfect destination for active travellers.
During our recent trip to San Pedro de Atacama, we were lucky enough to spend 2-nights at the über luxurious Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa. A haven for those who want to escape the ‘backpacker’ vibe of San Pedro, this enchanting lodge is situated just 3km outside of town in the Catarpe Valley, where it is set in front of a natural terracotta-coloured ridge and designed to blend in seamlessly with the natural surroundings.
Sophisticated yet unpretentious in design, Alto Atacama was created by some of the best architects, landscapers and designers in Chile. Consisting of 42 rooms and suites situated around a unique ‘Andescape’ of decorative flora, fragrant herb gardens, Alpaca and Llama stables, and no less than six outdoor pools, Alto Atacama is a destination in itself, and when you are not lounging around the pool or indulging yourself in the Puri Spa, there are a whole host of activities on offer to keep you occupied.
Hikes, biking activities and horse riding are all included in your Alto Atacama experience, as are day trips to flamingo filled lagoons, Tatio Geysers, Moon Valley, and San Pedro Salt Lakes. All guests are invited to select their preferred activities on arrival, and can choose from a full day tour, or morning and afternoon excursions, which allows just enough time to enjoy a delicious lunch on site in the indoor/outdoor restaurant.
While half-board options are available, fully inclusive is the only way to go at Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa. Three sumptuous meals per day are provided, local wines are served with lunch and dinner, and one can order drinks (alcoholic and non) throughout the day at both the lounge bar and the pool bar.
We stayed in one of the resorts ten Tila Suites, which was beautifully decorated in natural earthy tones. Equipped with a huge bed, two comfortable armchairs, a flat-screen TV with plenty of international channels, and a complimentary mini-bar that was refreshed daily, it was perfect in every way. Our large patio area was furnished with comfortable chairs, and it offered spectacular views over the gardens. The spacious bathroom also had an outdoor space with a shower and a comfortable day bed, so we could avoid the sun, or spend all day in it, whichever we preferred.
All-in-all, our stay at Alto Atacama made our trip to San Pedro even more spectacular, and if you are looking for a luxury retreat to relax and unwind after your South American adventure, this is probably the best place on earth to do it!