Tierra Atacama: luxury base camp for desert adventures

For the past few days, I’ve been sharing stories about my recent travels to the Atacama Desert, located in northern Chile. I’ve mentioned several of the highlights of that destination and even wrote about my climb to the top of an 18,000-foot volcano. Hopefully those stories conveyed a sense of the adventure that can be found in the Atacama, which is amongst the most beautiful and diverse places that I’ve ever visited.

While visiting some remote destination, adventure travelers often find themselves huddled inside tents and making do without their favorite creature comforts. I’m happy to report that that doesn’t have to be the case in the Atacama however, as San Pedro has a number of options for nearly any budget. Options range from youth hostels all the way up to all-inclusive luxury resorts, with a number of options in between. During my stay in Chile, I had the pleasure of staying at the Tierra Atacama, a resort that falls on the higher end of that spectrum.

We first told you about Tierra Atacama last summer, when it was awarded a Juli B style award for “Best International Resort.” At the time, it was lauded for mixing both adventure and luxury in a fantastic natural setting. Now, having visited the place first hand, I can appreciate that combination even more.
I arrived at Tierra Atacama after more than 24-hours of travel that included four flights, three layovers, and an hour long car ride from nearby Calama. Needless to say, I was quite exhausted, but upon my arrival, the resort staff were extremely accommodating and within minutes I was checked in and whisked off to my room. The accommodations were spacious, comfortable, and featured a large comfy bed, indoor and outdoor showers, and free WiFi Internet service that was far better than I had any reason to hope for. The room had no television whatsoever, but one glance out the sliding glass doors, which led out onto a comfortable, private deck, explained why. The view off of my room was nothing short of spectacular, with snow-capped peaks dominating the horizon in all directions. Who has time for television, when you have that to look at?

As you would expect in an all inclusive resort, your food and drinks are part of the package at the Tierra Atacama. But what I didn’t expect was that that “all inclusive” also meant that adventure was part of the package as well. The resort has quite an extensive list of excursions available to its guests, and within 30 minutes of my arrival, I was sitting down with a staff member to plot out my own adventures for the duration of my stay. We came up with an excellent scheduled that allowed me to see as much of the desert as possible, in an efficient manner, while also keeping me plenty active, at the same time. Excursions can include everything from desert hikes and mountain bike rides, to day trips to visit the local salt flats and challenging high altitude climbs up local volcanoes. Each excursion is led by a friendly and knowledgeable, bilingual guide, who have forgotten more about the Atacama Desert than most people will ever know.

After a long day of exploring the desert, you’ll definitely want to refuel in the resorts dining hall. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served on a regular schedule, and the food was always excellent. The offerings varied greatly from day-to-day and meal-to-meal, ranging from classic gourmet fish and beef dishes to more traditional local fare. The chefs never ceased to impress with their creative and tasty combinations, which often included liberal uses of fresh fruits and vegetables as well.

Meal times at the Tierra Atacama are something to look forward to, and not just because of the great food. The atmosphere at the resort is one that is conducive to being social, and the dining room made it easy to gather around with your fellow travelers and swap stories about your daily excursions while enjoying the fine food or a cool beverage. Other communal areas, such as sun decks and observation lounges, were regularly occupied by guests as well, with visitors from around the globe sharing the Atacama experience with one another. It was not uncommon to walk past a table and hear multiple languages being spoken in excited and jovial tones.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the resort also has a full service spa, but alas it was not something that I took advantage of. It seemed very popular with the other guests however, many of whom were visiting the Atacama for a little rest and relaxation. I did take advantage of the hot tub on my final night at the hotel however, relaxing in the hot water, while a blanket consisting of a billion stars twinkled overhead.

While I made my visit to the Chile solo, couples looking for a romantic, yet adventurous, getaway, should consider making the journey as well. Tierra Atacama is a fantastic destination for a romantic escape, as you’ll spend the days exploring a unique destination, unlike any other place on the planet, only to return to the resort in the evenings for a comfortable and relaxing night around the fire or sitting out under the stars.

The resort also sits right on the edge of San Pedro, the town of 4000 inhabitants that serves as the unofficial capital of the Atacama. It is close enough to easily stroll into town for a little shopping, sightseeing, or to simply enjoy a Pisco Sour while watching the tourists and locals go about their day. The proximity to San Pedro adds a healthy dose of local color to your trip, as the town has plenty of character to spare.

In short, a stay at Tierra Atacama offers travelers adventure, luxury, romance, and culture. What more could you ask for on your next journey?