Tierra Atacama , Chile

Tierra Atacama is a boutique hotel on the edge of San Pedro de Atacama. The hotel faces the majestic Licancabur Volcano and there are panoramic views throughout.

Tierra Atacama has an adventure spa philosophy: guests want to experience the outdoors actively and adventurously and then be welcomed back to the hotel with a variety of relaxing options.

It was created by the Purcell family, long time owners and operators of the Ski Portillo, famous in Chile for its excellent skiing, food and warm hospitality. Like Portillo, Tierra Atacama provides guest experiences that combine outdoor adventure and sports with indoor comforts, hospitality and excellent service. The hotel offers an extensive list of excursions guided by expert bilingual guides.

 

All rooms have views of the Licancabur Volcano and are equipped with air-conditioning and central heating, private terrace and outdoor shower. Hotel facilities and services include swimming pool, guest computers, WiFi throughout the hotel, a TV lounge, excursions area, board games and terraces with fire pits. The Uma Spa at Tierra Atacama offers many services for your pleasure and to help you fully rejuvenate during your Chilean vacation. Meals and daily guided excursions are included.

Rooms:

Tierra Atacama

Oriente

Oriente Rooms offer romantic settings for guests. Views of the Licancabur volcano are seen through the sliding glass doors that lead to a private terrace. Featuring a bed with dossel (roll down shades), a frosted glass enclosed bathroom, an outdoor shower in addition to the indoor shower, private terrace and spectacular views of the Licancabur Volcano. Please note Oriente Rooms do not have bathtubs. These rooms can be set up with two twin beds or one king bed.

Tierra Atacama

Poniente

Poniente Rooms are slightly more spacious than Oriente Rooms, offering dramatic volcano views through large picture windows as well as views of the Salt Mountain range from the terrace. They feature a private terrace with outdoor shower overlooking the Salt Mountain Range and the hotel gardens. Poniente Rooms offer views of the Licancabur Volcano through large windows. These rooms can be set up with two twin beds or one king bed.

Tierra Atacama

Family Room

Family Rooms are ideal for larger families traveling together. Spread out over two levels and connected via an internal stair case, these rooms sleep up to 6 people with one master bedroom with a private bathroom upstairs, and two rooms each with two twin beds and their own bathrooms downstairs. A large private terrace upstairs looks over the hotel gardens.

Adventures in the Atacama Desert are plentiful, and at Tierra Atacama you will find a wonderful variety of excursions to choose from. Whether you prefer to explore on foot, horseback, bike or vehicle, there is an all-encompassing portfolio of activities that delve into every corner of Atacama. From world-class hiking tours to desert bike rides, horseback adventures to stargazing experiences, and much more.

When you arrive at Tierra Atacama their expert guides will personally walk you through the portfolio of excursions. The guides will get to know your interests and physical activity level, helping to create a bespoke journey for you to explore the Atacama Desert your way.

BIKING

Cycling the Ayllus/Atacama Communities

This gentle bike tour provides the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the Atacama communities, getting to know their distinctive local culture. We’ll hop on our bicycles at the hotel and pedal towards San Pedro de Atacama, making for the small, characterful communities surrounding the town which are known as Los Ayllus, made up of extended families who have lived here for generations. Cycling at an easy pace and making stops at leisure means that we have the best chance of gaining a real insight into this intriguing oasis, perched at 2,400m above sea level (7,900ft). The route is characteristic of the area, as we pass traditional farms, plantations and homes constructed from adobe, as well as artisan workshops, old mills and food stands selling local delicacies. Exploring Atacama’s villages on two wheels is a warming, memorable experience, and also an ideal way to acclimatize on your first day at Tierra Atacama.

Biking Quebrada del Diablo

Feel the exhilaration of pedaling through spellbinding landscapes towards the Quebrada del Diablo ‘Devil’s Canyon’, witnessing scenic sights across the Atacama as you go. Having geared up and prepared our bicycles at the hotel, we will start our exploration of the local area, beginning with a ride along the banks of the San Pedro River, at 2,400m (7,900ft) above sea level. Bumble along the dusty pathways, with the beautiful mountains accompanying you along the way, before crossing the cool, gentle waters of the river to reach the other side.

Soon after, we will arrive at the Quebrada del Diablo, a dried-up riverbed with towering walls of red clay and beguiling rock shapes; a naturally formed bike trail for us to zip along. The path leads us up higher and higher until we reach the end of the canyon and our lookout point, looking out over rugged, rocky earth juxtaposed with the lush green of the Catarpe plantations. After taking in this view, we make our way back to the hotel, following the meandering waters of San Pedro River as our guide.

Ojos del Salar

Looking to see of of the water elements in the Atacama desert, this is the perfect ride. We leave the hotel heading south by bicycle, towards the edge of the Atacama Salt Flat at an altitude of 2,300masl approx. (7,500 feet) We will reach the “Ojos del Salar” two small pools of fresh water which are incredibly deep, in the middle of the driest desert in the world. We then continue to the Tebinquinche waterhole, which is a true mirror in which you can see the reflection of the Andes. We wait for the sunset here before returning to the hotel by vehicle.

Biking Death Valley

This challenging, invigorating bike ride is the perfect choice for thrill-seekers looking to venture into Death Valley on two wheels. The route is filled with plenty of ascents to get your blood pumping, though you’ll also be rewarded with welcome downhill sections that will have you flying. Setting off in a north-westerly direction, we will be treated to divine views of the Cordillera de Sal, the imposing peaks of mountains and volcanoes jutting up into the cobalt sky ahead of us. You will get to admire Death Valley’s unforgiving terrain from above, affording us with a superb perspective of this undulating rockscape, before we take to the old roads that lead down to the valley below, immersing ourselves into the awe-inspiring grandeur of this eerie, though gentle place.

HIKING
Get up-close and personal with the beauty of the Atacama Desert with our hiking excursions. From light strolls through the desert to more advanced hikes, there is a trail for everyone.  Our expert guides will help you choose the best path.

Cornisas Hike

This hike to the cornices of the Cordillera de la Sal makes for the perfect introduction to Atacama’s bewitching, moon-like landscapes. We’ll start by heading off along the age-old road linking San Pedro de Atacama with Calama, taking us to the Catarpe tunnel. Prepare to be taken aback by the spellbinding panorama here in the Valle de la Muerte (Death Valley), framing some of the region’s most imposing volcanoes and sweeping, fiery red rock formations, which will accompany us on our hike along the desert plateau at around 2,600m (8,350ft) above sea level. We’ll round the hike off with a thrilling descent down the dunes of Death Valley, as we gaze out towards the snow-dusted mountains of the Andes looming far ahead of us.

Quebrada del Diablo & the Vilama Fortress

Discover the beguiling land formations of the Quebrada del Diablo and enjoy a dose of local heritage, here in the Cordillera de la Sal. Having driven to the cusp of the ‘Devil’s Canyon’, we’ll begin our hike through this dried-up river bed, meandering along flat terrain which is flanked on each side by ethereal, craggy rock walls. This trail will then lead up a steady ascent to a lookout point, rewarding all effort with far-reaching views out towards the rippling mountains and volcanoes that surround us. From here, we’ll come across historic petroglyphs etched into the rock walls – a sign of travelers and traders having used this very same route for hundreds of years – all before finishing the hike at Vilama; a historic fortress that blends seamlessly into its earthen-hued environment.

Guatin Gatchi Valley

Expect a confection of distinctive desert plant life and trickling rivers, on this tour to the Valle de Guatin. A short drive takes us to this flourishing valley, where we’ll start by hiking through a Cardon forest, encountering the giant cacti that are known to thrive in the area before hiking to the confluence of two rivers: the Puritama and Purifica. What’s notable about these colliding rivers is that the former is made up of warm, thermal waters while the latter is cool, mountain meltwater, and together they merge to give birth to the Vilama River, which in turn brings life to Guatin Valley’s delicate ecosystem. We’ll continue our way through the valley, over a rocky pathway dotted with small waterfalls and across the gushing river, passing interesting vegetation endemic to the region along the way. Then, a captivating panorama of the sweeping valley below makes for a worthy finale to this refreshing walk in Guatin Gatchi.

Guatin Valley & Puritama Thermal Springs

This picturesque trek through the Guatin Valley will lead us to the enticing thermal pools at Puritama, where you can wallow in mineral-rich waters while admiring the pristine valley around you. We’ll begin with an uphill hike, passing towering cacti, the flowing Puritama River and terracotta-tinted rocks that hint at the volcanic past here in Guatin. As the jagged terrain of the canyon transforms into rolling pampas, we approach the serene thermal pools of Puritama and indulge in a scenic soak amidst nature as its wildest. Keep an eye out for resident birdlife and let the medicinal properties of Puritama work their magic on your legs.

Exploring Machuca & the Río Grande

Llamas, Alpacas, Giant Cacti and desert flora abound on this immersive exploration of Machuca and the Río Grande. With a relatively consistent altitude of around 4000m (13,200ft) above sea level throughout the trek, you will follow a rough route which surrounds the Peñaliri riverbed, a sparsely populated stretch of desert tundra, hardy plants and unusually high number of native animals and birdlife for such arid plains.

Along the way, you will pass the settlements of Peñaliri and Río Grande Village to witness, among the dramatic backdrop of lofty peaks and an unforgiving wilderness, the traditional agricultural plantations of crops suited perfectly to an extreme, high-altitude environment, predominantly consisting of native potato species, corn and members of the onion family. This snapshot insight into the adaptability of both mankind and nature in such extreme conditions, serves as an evocative highlight during any time spent in the Atacama Desert.

Visit to Moon Valley

For the people of the High Andean Plains, budding explorers and visiting travelers alike, there are few places as evocative as the Valle de la Luna or ‘Moon Valley’. The myriad of peaks, rock formations and canyons are a bewildering natural spectacle, one which can never be fully understood in either its natural beauty or tangible, spiritual atmosphere until you get there. Being a morning exploration, we will aim to avoid large visiting crowds in order to make the most of irreplaceable lookouts, eerie silences and moments of contemplation, all of which the sprawling landscapes of the Valle de la Luna are known for. There will be a chance to make your own peace with the desert, hike to stunning vantage points with our expert guide as well as enjoying time at leisure, before returning to the hotel and back down to earth.

Cerro Toco Volcano Climb

Located just 6km from the border between Chile and Bolivia, Cerro Toco is as awe-inspiring to look at from the ground, as the expansive panoramas are to be enjoyed from its summit. This depleted volcano is far less-visited than its better-known nearby cousins of Licancabur and Lascar, though offers equally astounding views, a solid level of hiking and just as much sense of achievement in reaching its peak as with any mountain in the surrounding Andes. Departing the hotel, you will travel by van across the plains to the trailhead, gradually ascending to a starting altitude of 5,000m (16,400ft), where the dusty roads lead into rows of dramatic hills, some of which may be dusted with snow, though all will look even more magnificent from atop Cerro Toco!

The ascent can be taken at a steady pace, as this high-altitude trek is very much about the enjoyment of the climb, ensuring enough energy is left to indulge in its aerial rewards. Having traversed the trails to 5,600m (18,700ft), take a moment to revel in the surrounding mountainscape, with views out to Laguna Blanca and the Salar de Atacama being of particularly spectacular note, before gradually making the descent back to the awaiting support vehicle and home.

Lascar Volcano

Conquering the elements, altitude and weary legs to reach the rim of the Lascar crater is a mission that promises all the thrills of a strenuous mountain climb.  You’ll earn effortlessly beautiful scenery along the way and an opportunity to boast that you climbed the most active volcano in northern Chile!

Departing the hotel in the safe hands of our expert local guides, you will travel by van across the plains to the trailhead.  The drive will gradually ascend to a starting altitude of 4,800m (16,000ft), passing the blissful waters of Laguna Lejía on the way. You’ll experience an increase in altitude of roughly 600m during the 3km hike, with each exciting step taking you closer to the tantalizing prospect of steaming fumaroles and smoking potholes, both of which fill the main crater. The rocky trails do not require technical ability, though the climb is relatively steep, snaking your way up the south-eastern side of this famous Chilean landmark.

Upon reaching the crater’s edge, the resulting vistas are all about the sprawling salt flats and adjacent Laguna Lejía below.  The sheer spectacle of witnessing the inner workings of a slowly depleting volcano up close is an irreplicable and unforgettable experience.

HORSEBACK RIDING IN THE ATACAMA
Soak up the stunning scenery as you walk, trot, or canter along, feeling closer than ever to nature on whichever route you opt for at Tierra Atacama. The difficulty level and duration of the horse rides are up to you: they can take between 2-5 hours and be as easy or challenging as you like! What’s more, as part of our commitment to sustainability, we always work with small, local providers; our guides are true experts in their field and take great care of their beautiful horses, using typical Chilean riding gear. So, saddle up and prepare for an energizing excursion deep into the Atacama.

SCENIC VOYAGES

Visit to Moon Valley

For the people of the High Andean Plains, budding explorers and visiting travelers alike, there are few places as evocative as the Valle de la Luna or ‘Moon Valley’. The myriad of peaks, rock formations and canyons are a bewildering natural spectacle, one which can never be fully understood in either its natural beauty or tangible, spiritual atmosphere until you get there. Being a morning exploration, we will aim to avoid large visiting crowds in order to make the most of irreplaceable lookouts, eerie silences and moments of contemplation, all of which the sprawling landscapes of the Valle de la Luna are known for. There will be a chance to make your own peace with the desert, hike to stunning vantage points with our expert guide as well as enjoying time at leisure, before returning to the hotel and back down to earth.

The Salar de Atacama

Uncover the breathtaking sights of the Salar de Atacama on this captivating excursion to Chaxa Lagoon, where vivid colors and resident Flamingos abound. We’ll begin with a trip south to visit Toconao, a secluded village and desert oasis which was built using soft white stone, known for its fruit cultivation thanks to the natural irrigation it is bestowed with. We’ll wander through Toconao itself, passing the main plaza, the church adorned with an 18th century bell tower and artisan workshops, before continuing onward. Our destination is the Los Flamencos National Reserve at Chaxa Lagoon, home not only to the various Flamingo species but also to Andean Gulls, Highland Chorlos and more birdlife. As we take a gentle walk along the trails that wind their way around this watery haven, there’s no doubt you’ll want to reach for your camera and capture this landscape of vast open skies, imposing peaks looming on the horizon and the colors of the sunset mirrored in Chaxa Lagoon, as the Flamingos fly across the sky.

The Tara Salt Flats

A jaw-dropping mix of volcanoes, staggering rock formations and wildlife is in store for you to and through the Tara Salt Flat. Driving eastward, we’ll pass the Quepiaco River and an array of wildlife which is known to thrive here, including Flamingos, Ducks and Vicuñas, until the distinctive silhouette of Licancabur Volcano comes into view; an important landmark for the people of Atacama as it is believed to be their spiritual protector. We’ll ascend to 4,700m (15,419ft) above sea level, our highest point on the trip and a place which endows us with a view of kaleidoscopic surroundings of wetlands and salt flats, though there are plenty more astonishing views ahead of us, too. The end of the paved road signals our approach to the Monjes de la Pacana, rock pinnacles that jut out of the desert landscape in a striking natural display, before reaching the Tara Salt Flat itself. This colorful expanse is truly dazzling to behold, a desolate but spellbinding spot where flora and fauna flourish. Here we’ll take a picnic lunch while soaking up the eye-popping views on this full-day excursion.

Tatio Geysers at Sunrise

Feast your eyes on the Tatio Geysers, one of the world’s most impressive geothermal sites and certainly an icon of the Atacama Desert. We’ll set off early this morning to reach the Tatio Geysers just as the sun begins to emerge above the horizon, casting an ethereal glow on vapor columns which tower over us at heights of up to 12 meters. We’ll spend some time appreciating the wonder of this geothermal field, home to over 80 active geysers which protrude from bubbling pools of boiling water, then have breakfast with the geysers as our views. As we head home, we will often spot wildlife roaming outside, including Vicuñas, Foxes, Vizcachas and Andean Ostriches. We will stop at the picturesque, adobe village of Machuca. Home to no more than a dozen locals, Machuca is small, cultural site to behold with its church built from wood and handicraft stalls, a charming interlude before taking the return road to Tierra.

SPECIAL INTERESTS

Atacama Birdwatching

For birdwatchers, the Atacama is an unexpected haven, with the wetlands of Putana and Machuca brimming with all sorts of ornithological delights. This half-day tour will get you up close to the surprising species living at these high altitudes, in a delicate ecosystem found 4,000m (13,000ft) above sea level. As we head past the Tatio Geysers, towards Putana and Machuca, the journey itself promises sporadic sightings of local wildlife, though by the time we reach the wetlands you may well be in the company of endemic birds such as Flamingos, Andean Geese, Andean Seagulls, Giant Taguas, Puna Teasl, Crested Ducks, and Tyrant Flycatchers, to name just a few; as well as non-bird species like Vicuñas and Llamas in Machuca. Witnessing such a rich variety of birds, against a backdrop of craggy mountains and volcanoes, makes for a birdwatching tour unlike any other.

Petroglyphs & Rainbow Valley

Unearth ancient petroglyphs and admire a kaleidoscope of color at Rainbow Valley on this half-day excursion; a geological and archaeological treat. The drive leads us westward to the Domeyko Mountains and Rainbow Valley, whose stripes of copper, silver, jade, violet and everything in-between lend this sacred place its name. A 30-minute walk will allow us time to marvel at the terrain, the result of erosion and environmental processes that created this mineral-rich rock face. Once you’ve experienced the charms of Rainbow Valley, we’ll make for the town of Hierbas Buenas, where pre-Columbian petroglyphs await. Emblazoned on the rock walls of a natural shelter – which was hewn out of compacted volcanic ash before being used by local farmers, these intricate images depict animals and ancient hidden messages still little understood; something truly extraordinary to behold.

Atacama Stargazing

The Atacama Desert is known to be one of the best places on earth for stargazing. So, armed with the largest public telescope in the region as well as the help of our expert guides, we’ll enjoy a fascinating evening of astronomy together, something not easily forgotten. Look up to the jet-black canopy above you, studded with glittering stars and their constellations, easily visible to the naked eye thanks to the Atacama’s lack of artificial light and endless expanse of untouched desert. The night sky transforms throughout the year, so depending on the time of your visit, it may be Saturn’s rings, craters on the moon, nebulas and even supernovas on show. All the while, pick the brain of your guide for astronomic worldviews or the way traditional Andean communities saw cosmic constellations, because if you thought the Atacama Desert was beautiful by day, just wait to see things in all its glory by night!

WATER ACTIVITIES

Guatin Valley & Puritama Thermal Springs

This picturesque trek through the Guatin Valley will lead us to the enticing thermal pools at Puritama, where you can wallow in mineral-rich waters while admiring the pristine valley around you. We’ll begin with an uphill hike, passing towering cacti, the flowing Puritama River and terracotta-tinted rocks that hint at the volcanic past here in Guatin. As the jagged terrain of the canyon transforms into rolling pampas, we approach the serene thermal pools of Puritama and indulge in a scenic soak amidst nature as its wildest. Keep an eye out for resident birdlife and let the medicinal properties of Puritama work their magic on your legs.

The Puritama Hot Springs

Having no doubt appeared as if a total mirage to the weary, sun stroked travelers of old, the Puritama Hot Springs are more than your average desert oasis. Not only do they serve as an enticing means of refreshing and revitalizing yourself in these desolate plains, but the water which runs through the series of channels and crystalline plunge pools, is also known to hold many health benefits due to its extremely high mineral content. Hidden from obvious view by the steep sides of a nearby canyon, you will enter these magical pools that are naturally heated, with mineral-rich pools and that are proven to ease the aches of tired bones or simply invigorate mind, body and soul.

 

Superior

Tierra 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
Some hotels will let you use their facilities (gym, spa, pool, beach, etc.) for a reduced day pass. This can be great for layovers!
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