Awasi Atacama , Chile

The Awasi Atacama is an oasis in the desert.

Awasi Atacama is located in the town of San Pedro de Atacama, a few blocks from the historical center, the market, the old church and the Square. This proximity allows guests to get to know the authentic town life.

Each of the 10 rooms is assigned a private professional guide and 4x4 vehicle for the duration of your stay. Excursions are always private, without the need to compromise what you want to do based on other guests differing interests. Each suite has a patio, solarium, plus outdoor and indoor showers.

 

Awasi will be your base for exploration of the Atacama Desert. The lodge offers a menu of over 47 different quarter-, half- and full-day excursions which explore the cultural and natural history of the Atacama desert by Jeep, on foot, on horseback, on bike or any combination of the above. The Awasi experience is ultimately 100% tailor made.

All meals and guided excursions are included.

Rooms:

Awasi Atacama

 

Awasi Atacama

 

Awasi Atacama

 

Awasi Atacama

 

The following are the different activities you can carry out at Awasi Atacama. The excursions are personalized and organized according to your tastes and special interests. The durations of these activities will depend on the pace of the trek and the possible stops that each guest prefers to make during the journey. Excursions are by vehicle, bicycle, on foot or horseback. Excursions are split between half-day excursions (between 2 and 5 hours) and full-day excursions (between 6 and 10 hours).

Zone A - Salt  Flat
Zone B - The  Canyons
Zone C - Puna
Zone D – High Mountains

Zone  A - Salt  Flat

Consisting of the low zone of the basin, characteristic for its flat and regular surface. The altitude for these excursions is about 2,400 meters above sea level. The geological events of greater importance in this area are the Cordillera de la Sal mountain range and the Salar de Atacama salt flat.

Attractions of San Pedro Ayllus
San Pedro de Atacama is known as the archaeological capital of Chile. The settlement is very old, with permanently inhabited since at least 2,500 years ago.

On this excursion you will be able to visit the town square and the church, both places representative of the village , and the two major archaeological sites of San Pedro: the Pukará de Quitor, a tenth century fort built with mud and white volcanic rock, and the village of Tulor, built with adobe in curved and organic forms, with an enigmatic history that represents the origin of the people of this area.

Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 2:30
By car and on foot / bicycle

Ayllus

Ayllu means  “family” in Quechua, the language of the Incas. In this way the people were organized in the Tawantinsuyu, the Inca kingdom, for the employment of men in collective work tasks. 

San Pedro de Atacama today has 15 Ayllus, located in the area surrounding the old town, which faithfully embody the peaceful agrarian  way of life of the ethnic Lickan Antay, which has remained relatively intact for millennia. Here it is possible to visit their cultivation fields, to observe the thousand-year old route of the irrigation channels, and to see both native and introduced flora and fauna.

Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 2:30
By car and on foot / bicycle / horse 

Valle de la Luna

The Valle de la Luna, or Valley of the Moon, is without doubt the most famous natural attraction of the Antofagasta region. It is located less than ten kilometers from San Pedro, in the middle of the Cordillera de la Sal. Its gigantic sedimentary rock walls, with their red and white tones, are contorted by the huge tectonic pressure acting upon the Atacama Desert. Some of the most popular sites in the sector are La Duna Mayor, Las Tres Marías, El Mirador de Kari, and El Cañón de la Sal.

Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 3:00
By car and on foot / bike 

Kari Canyon

The Valle de la Luna hides a secret of great beauty, little frequented or known: el Cañón de Kari. Named for the green color of its ores (minerals as removed from the mine) of copper, it is journey that never ceases to amaze, from the heights of the Mirador, passing through a salt flat, until reaching the serpentine path of the water between blades of clay and salt.

Difficulty: Medium
Duration: 3:00
By car and on foot 

Barrancas

El Valle de la Muerte, or Death Valley, is very close to the Valle de la Luna, in another sector of the Cordillera de la Sal.You can get a fantastic panoramic view of the town of San Pedro, the central Cordillera of the Andes and the impressive Cuenca de Atacama basin, from the crest of a sedimentary rock wall raised up by the energy of the tectonic plates. The trek is mainly on the plain, upon a rocky surface.

Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 3:00
By car and on foot / horse 

Piedra de la Coca

In prehistoric times, the inhabitants of San Pedro built a large network of commercial routes towards other zones, such as the coast or the Bolivian Altiplano. Their footprints are still visible today in the rock, where they made mysterious engravings of animals and people. Here it is possible to walk where they did, thousands of years ago, to appreciate not only the rock art but also the beautiful natural formations of the Cordillera de la Sal.

Difficulty: Medium
Duration: 3:00
By car and on foot / bicycle / horse 

Garganta del Diablo

The Cordillera de la Sal is composed of endless stream beds, normally dry but ¨beware of their treacherous waters¨ upon the arrival of the rains, that mirror the landscape of the planet Mars. One of them stands out for the enormity of its walls of clay and gypsum, from which you can expect fantastic views behind every nook and cranny of the route, and that finishes in a great dry waterfall: the Devil’s Ravine or Throat of the Devil.

Difficulty: Medium
Duration: 3:00
By car and on foot / bicycle / horse 

Katarpe

In the sector north of the town, following the course of the Río San Pedro river, you come to the Katarpe sector. Here officials of the Tawantinsuyu (Inca kingdom) were assigned to administer the Lickan Antay, collecting taxes and recruiting people to form compulsory armies for the Inca. The remains of the Kallanka (Inca center) can still be seen, surrounded by the majestic Cordillera de la Sal mountains and the salty waters of the river.

This destination can be combined with other excursions, like La Garganta del Diablo or La Piedra de la Coca.

Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 2:30
By car and on foot / bicycle / horse 

Laguna Cejar

The Salar de Atacama is the third largest salt flat on the planet. It is also very special in its morphology, a product of the extreme aridity of climate. However, there are lakes deep at their heart, of high salinity, that possess curious and beautiful birdlife, in addition to plants that are extremely salt-tolerant. The Cejar and Piedras lakes are visited - in the latter, it is possible to bathe and enjoy an experience similar to that of the dead sea - in addition to Los Ojos del Salarand the Laguna Tebinquiche, both of great scenic beauty.

Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 3:00
By car and on foot / bike

Toconao and Sóncor Sector

The Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos national reserve, the most diverse in the country in terms of biomass, derives its name from the three endemic flamenco species of northern Chile. There is no better place to observe these majestic birds than the Río Burro Muerto, in the Sóncor Sector.

You can visit the traditional Toconao village on the way, with its houses of volcanic rock and old gardens of beautiful verdure, providing a counterpoint to the extreme aridity of the Atacama basin.

Difficulty: EASY
Duration: 3:00
BY CAR and ON FOOT 

Zone  B - Intermediate Ravines

Between the flats of the basin and the volcanic summits there is a sector, composed primarily of solidified igneous volcanic rocks, which is located between 3,000 and 3,800 meters. This area is often referred to as the intermediate Ravines, where the small rivers of the Altiplano descend towards the desert. 

Matancilla and Yerbas Buenas

There are unique places on Earth, due to their unusual geography and conditions, or because they represent something original in human history. On this excursion the two are combined ideally: the site of Yerbas Buenas contains an extraordinary wealth of petroglyphs from the Lickan Antay culture. It is

also in close proximity to the Matancilla valley, where the geological history of the desert is laid bare in a symphony of colors within the rock.

Difficulty:  Easy
Duration: 3:30
By car and on foot / bike

Guatin

Between the dryness of the salt flats and the impressive Puna are the intermediate  ravines. That of the Vilama river is counted among the most beautiful and interesting, where only the Cardón or Pasakana cactus grow. There are two possible routes to be taken from Guatin: you can ascend towards the Puritama Hot Springs or descend to the archaeological site of Gatchi. Both routes present a similar duration and level of difficulty.

Difficulty:  Medium
Duration: 3:00
By car and on foot / bike

Puritama Hot Springs

The volcanic activity of the Andes always takes a leading role due to the beauty of its summits, the eruptions that revitalize the richness of the soil, or the endless thermal springs that it produces.

Among these geothermal features, the Puritama river is particularly noteworthy, springing from the volcanic rock at a temperature of 37ºc and which is ideal for bathing. This location has high class facilities and is organized in a series of handcrafted pools.

Difficulty:  Easy
Duration: 3:00
By car and on foot/bike 

Talabre

One of the great virtues of the Atacama Desert is that it is full of authentic places, which preserve within them the essence of the simple and contemplative old ways of life. Talabre represents that Atacameño spirit eloquently. You can visit ancient cultivation terraces, still functional today, as well as sites of ancestral petroglyphs in the Patos and Quezala ravines, with the most active volcano in Chile as a constant background – the furious Lascar.

Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 3:30
By car and on foot / bike

Zone  C - Puna

Above 4,000 meters altitude there is an important increase in precipitation which results in green meadows and highland wetlands, called bofedales. Most of the fauna and flora of the region is concentrated in this area.

*It requires altitude acclimatization prior to your visit and is not recommended for visitors who suffer from heart disease. 

Machuca

The Machuca village is one of the few located above 4,000 meters which is still inhabited, in the region of Antofagasta. The ascent in a 4x4 truck is both quick and safe and allows one to almost touch the sky, in a landscape much more fertile and rich in animals than the desert of San Pedro. There are excellent opportunities for bird watching in the town’s environs.

Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 3:30
By car and on foot

Géisers del Tatio

The Tatio geysers are one of the biggest attractions in the country, being the largest geothermal field in the southern hemisphere, complete with an enormous variety of features, from small fumaroles and bubbling springs to beautiful fountains of water, like the geysers.

In addition, from the road you can observe vicuñas, foxes, wild donkeys and flamingos, among many other species. You can visit panoramically ( from the vehicle) or on foot, while there are also many diverse trails and alternative routes that can be taken. Here it is possible to bathe in an artificial swimming pool specially installed in the geothermal field.

Difficulty: Medium
Duration: 7:00
By car and on foot 

Alto Loa Villages

At the beginning of the Altiplano there are some villages that still keep to the thousand-year old traditions of the Lickan Antay culture, such as Caspana and Chiu-Chiu. Caspana is located at almost 4,000 meters altitude and preserves one of the oldest cultivation systems in the region, within a privileged landscape that combines desert, oasis and the altiplano. Chiu-Chiu was regarded as the capital of Atacama la Baja, or Lower Atacama, counterpart to the power centered in San Pedro, and boasts the oldest church in Chile, the San Francisco de Chiu-Chiu Church.

Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 7:00
By car and on foot 

Machuca and Río Grande

Among the multiple commercial routes frequented by the Lickan Antay in their age of glory, a very traditional one is still used in our times. This follows the shepherds’ route between the villages of Machuca and Río Grande, used to move the livestock to higher ground in summertime, then to bring them back down before the snows. The trail starts in a distinctly Altiplano landscape, passing through many levels into an intermediate ravine area.

Difficulty: Medium-High
Duration: 7:30
By car and on foot

Lagunas Altiplánicas

This excursion includes the Toconao and Sóncor Sector, in addition to a visit to one of the greatest tourist attraction of the region: the Miscanti and Miñiques lakes. Situated at an altitude of 4,500 meters, they are of great scenic beauty. The larger is the Miscanti, which offers a panorama of Andean volcanoes, as well as populations of vicuñas and horny taguas; the smaller is the Miñiques, from which the beautiful Miñiques volcano, the Callejón Varela and a great variety of species can be observed.

Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 7:00
By car and on foot 

Altiplano Salt Flats

Situated almost on the border with Argentina are the salt flats of Aguas Calientes and Tuyactu. Both are wrapped in absolute silence, mainly thanks to their low visitor numbers. The Salar de Aguas Calientes has a splendid view of the surrounding volcanoes and reddish waters. The Laguna de Tuyactu is, in contrast, a mirror of salt water, which looks like snow in the dry season.

Difficulty: Medium
Duration: 7:00
By car and on foot

Tara Salt Flats

On the country’s border, literally, is a simply impressive water system: the Salar de Tara. Almost 5.000 meters in altitude, it is possible to admire a sky bluer than any other, surrounded by colorful mountains and a startling silence. On the salt flat there are llamas, vicuñas, flamencos, goldfinches, cholulos and many other species, and it is crowned by the imposing Monjes de la Pacana(Pacana  Monks), columns of volcanic rock sculpted by erosion.

Difficulty: Medium
Duration: 7:30
By car and on foot 

Salar de Kapur and Salar de Talar

A unique way of experiencing the Altiplano is to do it on foot. If this method presents great challenges and difficulties, it also rewards adventurers with unique and overwhelming experiences. On this route, one of the simplest, the salt flats of Kapur and Talar are explored, offering unique views of the extreme south of the territories of the “Abrazo de Mendoza (Embrace of Mendoza)”.

Difficulty: High
Duration: 8:00
By car and on foot

Zone D – High Mountain

The high summits of the central Andes represent an undeniable attraction for the imagination, reaching up to an altitude of some 6,000 meters. This requires appropriate physical and mental preparation, as well as acclimatization to the lack of oxygen. Most of the summits close to the hotel are between 5,000 and 5,700 meters.

Saciel Volcano

This volcano lies directly between the borders of Chile and Bolivia. In fact, during the ascent you will pass meters from the border signs, surrounded by a landscape that knows neither nationality nor name. The ascent begins from an abandoned sulphur mine,testifying to the enormous will and strength of the people of the Atacama, from which you climb 300 meters up to the summit - from there you can see the extinct crater of Sacielvolcano, as well as the Bolivian Altiplano and the Atacama Basin.

Difficulty: High
Duration: 8:00
By car and on foot 

Toco Hill

The Cerro Toco hill, 5,600 meters above sea level, is the least difficult ascent for mountaineers. The trail is well marked and does not present technical challenges. In spite of this, the high altitude can cause problems for those who are not acclimatized and therefore deserves respect. From the summit it is possible to see not only the Salar de Atacama but also the white and green lagoons in Bolivia.

Difficulty: High
Duration: 7:00
By car and on foot 

Láscar Volcano

The journey to the most emblematic volcano of the north of Chile is long and difficult. It ascends by the route to the village of Talabre and it continues towards the abandoned Huatiquina pass, passing close to the beautiful Laguna Lejía. The path to the summit is long, but not extremely difficult, and is remarkable by its proximity to the crater of the volcano, from which it is possible to observe multiple smoking sulphur vents. Subject to weather and safety conditions

Difficulty: High
Duration: 9:00
By car and on foot 

Sairecabur Volcano

The Mountain of the Rains, as it is named in Kunza, is an inactive volcano with an altitude of almost six thousand meters. The ascent is extremely difficult, complicated by the slope of the mountainside, the presence of sulphuric gases from sulphuric vents and the thin air at such altitude. It requires prior acclimatization, in addition to great willpower and endurance to reach the summit. An acclimatization period is necessary prior to the ascent

Difficulty: Very High
Duration: 9:00
By car and on foot 

Copa Coya Hill

On arrival at the Tatio geysers, a great peak provides the background: the Cerro Copa Coya. You can ascend the western slope or walk around from the east. In both cases it is possible to appreciate the geothermal field from its heights and discover the flora and fauna of the Altiplano. At the end of your journey you can enjoy an unforgettable lunch facing the geysers.

Difficulty: High
Duration: 7:30
By car and on foot 

Astronomical Observation

At present, the observations of the universe through professional telescopes are concentrated in just three places around the world; two in the northern hemisphere (Hawaii and the Canary Islands) and only one in the southern hemisphere: Chile, San Pedro de Atacama being one of the privileged locations for this activity. The Awasi astronomy excursion consists of three stages.

The first is a general explanation of the universe, covering topics such as sizes, distances, stellar evolution and Andean cosmology; the second is an observation of the night sky with the naked eye, in which you can see stars, constellations and the Milky Way.

The third stage takes place inside a small dome, in which there is an 11-inch automatic telescope for observing deep-space objects, those that are impossible to observe with the naked eye.

The observation  takes place depending on favorable weather conditions and after 9PM (dinner time). Check with the receptionist for the exact days and times of the activity.

Duration: 1:30

 

Deluxe

Lakes, Deserts and Wineries

Duration: 10 days, 9 nights
From: $7,260.00
Relais & Chateaux is offering a special package that features 3 of Chile's most spectacular areas: the Atacama Desert, the Chilean Lakes District and the central valley wine region.

Awasi Atacama

Be on your own schedule. Activities or day tours can be private or shared. Join a scheduled, multi-day group tour. All-inclusive travel by cruise ship.

Including accommodations, transportation, and activities/tours.

Any specific destinations or interests (e.g. culture, food, wine, romance, adventure, wildlife, etc.)? Special occasion? Relaxing vs. fast-paced trip? What would make this your dream trip?

Travel Tips
Try to pick up at least a few basic greetings, directional questions, and common curiosities in the native language(s) before you leave for your trip.
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