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Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & SPA 3-Night Itinerary

The all-inclusive Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa is the perfect base for exploring Chile’s spectacular Atacama Desert. To enjoy as much of this local area as you want, in the way you want, Alto Atacama has created a program of 30 excursions that you can design to create your own desert experience. Each night, you will meet with your guide to discuss your options for the following day, selecting outings that allow you to connect with the landscape through carefully devised walks, hikes, biking routes, cultural encounters and astronomical excursions …or by simply absorbing breathtaking landscapes. As an example of a 4-day/3-night program, the following is a combination of cultural, adventure, expedition, contemplative and astronomical excursions that will allow you to make a genuine link with the desert highland plains. Keep in mind that while these excursions are designed for people who love nature and extraordinary landscapes, the vast majority of these outings do not require any special physical training or abilities. 

Reviews

“Everything went off without a hitch. Accomodation was just what we wanted. Clean, great location and within our budget. The dive master was great. ”Sarah Darwin

Highlights

Atacama Desert, Valley Inca Trek, Petroglyphs, Excursion, Devil’s Throat

Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1: Flight to the Atacama Desert – Alto Atacama Lodge
Day 2: Lican Antai Cultural Excursion – Rock Art Tour
Day 3: Route of the Shepherds Excursion
Day 4: Devil’s Throat Mountain Biking – Departure
Itinerary Map

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1
Flight to the Atacama Desert – Alto Atacama Lodge

8:30 AM (approx.): Flight from Santiago de Chile to Calama, Chile – If just arriving in Chile on an international flight and planning to proceed directly to Atacama, you will make your connection at the Santiago International Airport (Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport [SCL]), which will fly onward to the airport in Calama Chile (CJC), the closest airstrip to San Pedro de Atacama.

Otherwise, if you’re already in Chile and continuing your tour of the country, Surtrek representatives will privately drive you from your hotel to the airport, where they will assist you with your luggage and with checking in for your two-hour flight to the Calama.

In either case, plan on arriving and checking in at the airport at least one hour before your morning Calama flight.

1:00 PM: Departure from Calama to the San Pedro Oasis & the Alto Atacama Lodge – Upon landing at the Calama airport, uniformed Alto Atacama guides and staff will be there to welcome you in the luggage claim area. As they offer you a choice of refreshing juices, you’ll find the service throughout to be warm, considerate, friendly and refreshingly unstuffy.

After being assisted with your luggage, you will head off on a 1-1/2-hour private drive through the scenic Atacama Desert.

En route to San Pedro de Atacama, you will be served a delicious box lunch consisting of homemade baked goods, Chilean specialties, hot coffee and fresh juice.

After passing through the oasis village of San Pedro de Atacama, you will then continue for about a mile from San Pedro and approach the Alto Atacama Lodge & Spa, which blends seamlessly into the terracotta-colored desert, making it almost invisible from afar.

2:30 PM: Arriving at the Alto Atacama Lodge – Reaching the lodge, you will be led to your room, where you will have time to unpack, get settled in, shower and relax. No matter which of the three room categories you choose, each guest room has a private terrace, calming colors, red-tiled floors, a mini-bar, an en-suite shower room (no baths) and inviting beds.

4:00 PM (approx.): Eco-spa Unwinding – After having had a chance to get acquainted with your room and the surroundings, you may choose to relax at the lodge’s own eco-friendly spa. Enjoy the luxury of water in the desert and the tranquility of being removed from the rest of the world, or go for a swim in one of the pools overlooking the beautiful Catarpe Valley and its red mountains.

7:30 PM: Welcome Dinner – Dining at the Alto Atacama’s restaurant is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Savor unique dishes made from locally grown organic produce such as socaire potatoes, native quinoa or chanar berries. The chefs at the lodge’s restaurant take pride in working closely with local farmers to give back directly to local farmers.

8:30 PM: Briefing on next day’s activities – Later this same evening, your guide will suggest optional activities available on Day 2. Just a few of the 30 adventurous excursions offered include exploring geysers, hot springs, volcano climbs, mountain biking through desert canyons, and exploring ancient Incan ruins and petroglyphs – excursions always led by your personal, highly trained local guide.

9:00 PM: Socializing / Relaxing / Turning in for the Night – After an already long day, you may wish to sit across from one of the lodge’s outdoor fire-pits to sip a post-dinner drink under the stars. The lounge bar offers a range of excellent Chilean wines, spirits and a Pisco sour made with locally grown leaves of the rica-rica plant. 

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Lunch - Dinner
Day 2
Lican Antai Cultural Excursion – Rock Art Tour

7:00 AM: Buffet Breakfast – For your first desert sunrise, sit down to a sumptuous buffet breakfast featuring a wide variety of dishes, plus Chilean specialties and fresh fruit juices.

8:00 AM: Lican Antai Cultural Tour The first traces of human activity in the area date back more than 10,000 years. Since then, the Atacama Desert has continued to be a hub of human interaction, a commercial crossroads for Andean peoples, and a proud cradle of Ancient cultural heritage. This tour offers guests the opportunity to explore the legacy left by indigenous populations – from the Lican Antai people, to the Tiwanaku culture, and later the Inca civilization. This is a chance to understand the heritage of these local hosts a little better.

For the Lican Antai culture tour, the first stop is the Tulor archaeological site, near the village of San Pedro. Some 2400 years old and well maintained, the site has been of great value in understanding many aspects of local history.

Then, we will travel to San Pedro to explore the old city and its church.

Finally, visit Pukara of Quitor – a pre-Hispanic village that provides an outstanding example of original native heritage.

11:00 AM: Return to the Lodge / Free Time – Returning to the lodge, before your lunch, you can experience the Alto Atacama gardens, a calming oasis of centuries-old ceramics, modern-day geoglyphs, indigenous plants, a salt-water pool and hand-carved rock beds. Here you’ll likely meet the local guide, Veronica — usually dressed in native prints, wearing feathered earrings and waist-length plaits; she continues to oversee the gardens and give impromptu tours that offer a fascinating insight into the challenging growing environment. 

1:00 PM: Lunch – The lunchtime dining experience at Alto Atacama takes advantage of local produce, filling the menu with innovative twists on north Chilean cuisine. With the potential for warm days and the hotel’s high-altitude location, the lodge’s expert chefs create dishes that are light and tasty, complementing local traditions with fresh, colorful salads, Peruvian corn, quinoa and a range of appetizing meat or vegetarian main dishes.

2:30 PM: Rock Art Outing – Rested, refueled and ready, we will strike out on the day’s second cultural tour: The Rock Art Outing.

This trip begins in the region of Hierbas Buenas, where you will find ancient thousand-year-old petroglyphs that represent scenes of the local shepherds’ lifestyles, the day-to-day lives of people of the remote past, and the growth of farming communities.

Having explored the caves and rock faces, move onto Rainbow Valley, so called due to the multi-colored nature of its hills and cliffs, caused by the buildup of different mineral deposits and their reflection of the sunlight.

5:30 PM: Return to the Lodge / Free Time – Making our way back to the lodge, you’ll have time to shower, rest up and relax before dinner.

7:00 PM: Gourmet Dining – Tonight’s dinner will be in the main indoor dining room or one of the two outdoor dining rooms – the choice is up to you. Alto Atacama created this variety of intimate indoor and outdoor settings to provide guests the opportunity to be in the company of interesting people from around the world while tasting fine dishes and sipping its incredible selection of Chilean wines.

8:30 PM: Briefing on next day’s activities – Your personal guide will again outline the details of tomorrow’s activities, explaining the places you will visit, the wildlife you might see, as well as more details on the history and geography of the Atacama.

9:00 PM: Socializing / Relaxing / Turning in for the Night – As always, guests have the run of a free open bar, including a selection of eminently sippable Chilean wines. Softly lit, decorated with artwork by local artisans, and dotted with comfy couches and overstuffed chairs, the indoor bar is just the place to curl up in as you work your way through the wine list and mingle with other international travelers. Then too, the lodge also has its own observatory and telescope for stargazing in the Atacama’s famously clear skies.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 3
Route of the Shepherds Excursion

7:00 AM: Breakfast – Breakfast will be served buffet-style, perhaps featuring cheese, cereal, style, ham, yogurt, bread and muffins, as well as scrambled eggs topped with linseed and served with homemade bread, muesli with yoghurt and fruit, espresso coffee and fresh juices.

8:00 AM: Hiking Excursion – This full-day “Route of the Shepherds” tour recreates the ancient trail taken by migrating local shepherds and their flocks for many centuries.

We will begin this hike in the wetlands of Vado Machuca, and then follow the course of a nearby river past the abandoned ruins of old stone structures used by the shepherds (though some of these structures are still inhabited to this day).

1:00 PM: Picnic Lunch – For your noontime picnic meal, you can choose from delectable international dishes or Chilean desert food specialties such as quinoa, lucuma, traditional Atacama patasca stew, papas andinas (native purple potatoes) and even llama meat.

Rainbow Valley 1:00 PM: Continued Hiking – The trek continues to Peñaliri, a now deserted village that is noteworthy for its well-maintained agricultural terraces.

Finally, the last few kilometers of this trek will take you on a scenic journey to Rio Grande, where you will stop for a well-earned local dinner. 

7:00 PM: Farewell Dinner – Sitting down at a local Rio Grande restaurant on your final evening, the chef will offer you up a special Mediterranean-style menu stocked with local, organic produce that takes its culinary cues from the local indigenous population. And don’t forget about the local wine — this is Chile, after all.

9:00 PM: Socializing / Relaxing / Turning in for the Night – Returning to the lodge for your last night at Alto Atacama, under the beauty of a desert night filled with thousands of stars, or perhaps a full moon, and wafted by a cool, nighttime Atacama breeze of the rainforest, the multi-talented staff will entertain you with a little live music, while you enjoy an after-dinner drink …just be sure not to stay up too late – you’ll need a good night’s sleep for the activities and travel tomorrow.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 4
Devil’s Throat Mountain Biking – Departure

7:00 AM: Buffet Breakfast & Packing up – For your final breakfast at Alto Atacama, join everyone in the main dining room and order up some eggs any way you like them …even benedict- or omelet-style with your choice of filling. In addition to international breakfast standards like pancakes and French toast, Chilean specialties will be in the buffet.

9:00 AM: Mountain Biking to Devil´s Throat Pass: This excursion begins on mountain bike from the Ayllu (settlement) of Quitor. From here the path winds through the spectacular gorges of the Cordillera de la Sal in the Catarpe Valley.

The tour continues on the Garganta del Diablo (Devil´s Throat Pass), named in connection with ancient myths of the local people.

Finally, you’ll bike to the village of San Isidro, where it’s perfectly situated church is an ideal destination to your mountain bike ride.

1:30 PM: Lunch – The lodge’s outdoor bar and the pool-area dining room give you the choice of enjoying a leisurely lunch by the water and a meal paired with chilled glass of Chilean white wine as the sun warms your body.

3:00 PM: Drive to the Calama Airport – After lunch, you will be driven back to Calama. As you head to the airport, enjoy your last look back at the spectacular Atacama Desert, a unique region of inspiring natural wonders.

4:30 PM: Departing Flight to Santiago de Chile – Reaching the Calama Airport, Alto Atacama staff will be on hand to help you with your luggage, get you your boarding pass, and help you check in. At the airport’s security gate, your guide and Alto Atacama staff will say goodbye, truly hoping that you enjoyed your stay and your Atacama travel experience.

The return flight will take you directly to the city of Santiago, the capital of Chile, where you will be met by Surtrek representatives if you plan on continuing your tour in the country (otherwise you will be able to easily catch your connecting flight home or onward). 

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Breakfast - Lunch

Prices

Price per person
Days
Catarpe RoomQuitor RoomTilo Suite
DoubleDoubleDouble
4US$ 2,400 PPUS$ 1,950 PPUS$ 2,550 PP
*Price per person based upon double occupancy.
*PP (per person)
Included in the price:
  • Accommodations in selected room
  • Transfer in/out from/to Calama (airport) or from / to Border with Bolivia
  • Shuttle service to and from San Pedro de Atacama - available from 09:00 - 23:00
  • Buffet-style American breakfasts
  • Lunch and Dinner à la carte (Starter, Main Course and Dessert)
  • Alcoholic & non-alcoholic drinks
  • Open bar from 11:00 to 23:30. After-hour charges apply
  • Daily Excursions - 1 full day excursion or 2 half day excursions per person, per day (maximum of 10 guests per vehicle on half day excursions and 8 guests per vehicle for full day excursions). Excursions with local guide
  • Please note, excursions are offered from 15:00 on arrival day until 13:00 on departure day
    Access to Puri Spa (swimming pools, sauna, steam room, hydro-massage bath and shower)
  • Free use of mountain bikes
  • Guests must inform the property of arrival and departure times at least 72 hours in advance, in order to coordinate the airport shuttle service
  • Park tickets
  • Private astrological observatory of the Andes
Not included in the price:
  • Spa treatments (Massage, reflexology, Reiki, etc.)
  • Premium Alcoholic Beverages
  • Laundry, telephone calls, personal expenses
  • Tips & gratuities
  • International & domestic flights
  • Health & Travel Insurance 

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“Thanks for such a great experience in Brazil, Peru and Bolivia. If we visit those countries again, I will definitely choose your travel agency. Thank you again, and I hope you have a good time with your co-workers during Christmas week.”Shintaro Akada