Travel Diaries

Luxe Adventure in the Chilean Andes

by Michelle Halpern

San Pedro de Atacama was a destination I’d dreamed of visiting. After spending two weeks in Buenos Aires on a project for my travel blog Live Like It’s The Weekend, I knew this was my opportunity to get to Chile while only a country away. I was on a mission to find out what the driest place on Earth was all about—and let me tell you, it was much more than dry.

Volcano Views

Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa

On arrival, I check into Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa, which is one of three luxury Tierra hotel properties throughout the country. This one is perfectly situated within San Pedro de Atacama yet just set enough away from the typical backpacker crowd. The property is stunning; a desert oasis with mid-century modern influences, calm neutral tones, and beautiful furniture and textiles that feel aligned with the local culture. The most impressive presence though is the dramatic view of the Licancabur volcano that magically shifts from a distant silhouette to a bold purple peak depending on the light and time of day. Due to the orientation of the hotel, Licancabur is front and center, regardless of whether you find yourself lounging by the pool or reading a book on your room’s private terrace. I was immediately captivated.

Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa

All the Excursions

The first order of business at Tierra is booking excursions, which come as part of your all-inclusive package with the hotel. The activity options are plentiful, with half day or full day excursions ranging from casual walking tours amidst dramatic scenery to strenuous hikes up the aforementioned volcano. Biking enthusiasts, bird watchers, equestrian lovers and laid-back travelers will all find something to revel in within Tierra’s extensive tour menu. Best of all: groups are small and intimate (no more than 6 guests) and feel wonderfully personalized.

Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa excursions flamingos

Flamingos and Fiery Sunsets

During our two-night stay, we toured the Chaxa Lagoon at sunset, and the Tatio Geysers which departs early in the morning and arrives back to Tierra in time for lunch (thankfully, because you wouldn’t want to miss a single meal here). On the Chaxa Lagoon tour, you visit the nearby town of Toconao and stroll through the beautiful local gardens, then carry on to the lagoon in time for golden hour. Seeing flamingos feed in the water with a backdrop of the drop-dead gorgeous mountains and salt flats is nothing short of exceptional. As the sun sets for the evening, Tierra treats guests to a fruit and cheese platter to enjoy as the sky turns aflame with orange tones, or in our case dramatic pinks and purple hues.

Geysers and Llamas

Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa excursions geysers

On the Tatio Geysers tour, we woke early in the morning to make the drive out to a geothermal field surrounded by 360-degree views of the Andes Mountains and desert landscape. After getting a thorough tour and explanation of the geology behind the area, we were treated to coffee, tea and breakfast—it was one of the more unique breakfast views I’ve encountered over the course of my travels. On the journey back to Tierra, we stopped along the way to spot llamas, ducks, and the occasional rogue ostrich. But it was really the scenery along the drive back that had me completely in awe of the region.

While I didn’t have the time to do all of Tierra’s tours, other excursions you can’t miss during your visit to San Pedro de Atacama are Valle de la Luna and Altiplanic Lagoons. If you inquire with Tierra, they’ll know exactly how to accommodate you.

Back at the Oasis

Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa pool Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa

Luckily, we had some time in between all of the activity to lounge at Tierra, because as amazing as all of the tours sounded, I found it difficult to pull myself away from the relaxing energy of the property itself. Between the three-course meals, otherworldly pool views and welcoming staff, Tierra Atacama has quickly become one of my favorite hotels of all time. I’d make the trip to this remote part of the world in a heartbeat to experience it all over again.