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Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & SPA 5-Night Itinerary

Blessed with a spectacular location in the shadow of the Pukara de Quitor ruins, the Alto Atacama Lodge & Spa is the perfect base for exploring northern Chile’s spectacular Atacama Desert. So that you can enjoy as much of this local area as you want – in any way you want – Alto Atacama has created a program of 30 excursions from which you can take part in designing your own 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 landscape. As an example of a 6-day/5-night program, the following is a combination of cultural, adventure, expedition, contemplative and astronomy excursions that will allow you to make a genuine connection with the desert highland plains. Keep in mind that these excursions are designed for people who love nature and extraordinary landscapes, but that the vast majority of these outings do not require any special physical training or abilities. 


“A note to thank you immensely for all your guidance & assistance in planning & completing our South American tour, including Quito, Galapagos, Santiago & Rapa Nui. It truly was an adventure & a fitting celebration of our 60th wedding anniversary”Larry and Pam Schaffer


Atacama Desert, Mars Valley, Full-Moon Walk, Desert Valley, Toconao Village, Los Flamencos National Reserve, Cardones Ravine, Rainbow Valley, Tatio Geysers, Ojos del Salar Salt Lakes

Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1: Arrival in the Atacama Desert – Alto Atacama Lodge
Day 2: Mars Valley – Full-Moon Walk
Day 3: Desert Valley – Toconao Village – Los Flamencos National Reserve
Day 4: Cardones Ravine – Petroglyphs / Rock Art – Rainbow Valley
Day 5: Tatio Geysers
Day 6: Ojos del Salar Salt Lakes – Departure
Itinerary Map

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival in the Atacama Desert – Alto Atacama Lodge

AM/PM: Welcome to the Atacama Desert..!! Upon arrival at the Calama airport, you will be transferred to the oasis village of San Pedro de Atacama (1.5 hours, shared with other lodge guests). Dinner will be served at Alto Atacama lodge. During the evening, the guides will suggest optional activities available the following day.

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Day 2
Mars Valley – Full-Moon Walk

AM: After breakfast, you and your guide will head out along a route that crosses one of the most important ancient thoroughfares, one that was once used by local shepherds thousands of years ago. Next, you will pass through the daunting tunnel formerly used to connect San Pedro with Calama, and then walk along the cliffs of the Cordillera de la Sal, the perfect place to observe the Catarpe Valley, the oasis of San Pedro, the Salar de Atacama, the Andes, the Cordillera de Domeyko, and even Alto Atacama itself! Finally, we will make our way back to the lodge, crossing a path that rolls down the middle of the high dunes, a well-known feature of the Mars Valley.       

PM: After dinner, we will travel to the Cordillera de la Sal, and through the appropriately named Mars Valley. Once you have scaled to a decent height, during this full-moon excursion you can enjoy views of the Catarpe Valley, the San Pedro oasis, Salar de Atacama, the Andes and Cordillera de Domeyko, all visible by the unique and eerie light offered by our celestial cousin. NOTE: This nighttime trek is only possible during full moons, though other astronomy excursions are available.  (* excursion includes aperitif).

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 3
Desert Valley – Toconao Village – Los Flamencos National Reserve

AM: This morning we will head out on an extensive Desert Valley Expedition that will take you across some of the most arid and inhospitable regions of the desert, recreating old routes formed by the ancient people of this area. You will start in the east, in Mars Valley, before trekking through to the Llano de la Paciencia. From there we will make our way to the western side of the Valley of the Moon, later cross to the Cordillera de la Sal, then pass the “Three Marys” (ancient rock formations sculpted largely by extreme winds), and on to explore the central crater of Moon Valley. The geology changes throughout this trek, including giant sand dunes and compacted salt mineral beds.  (*This excursion includes a picnic)    

PM: In the afternoon, this varied tour starts with a visit to Toconao, a local village known for its masonry and architecture which is typical of the area, as well as its important agricultural heritage. Next, we will continue to the Tamarug Forest, a woodland region en route to the Los Flamencos National Reserve, one of the most iconic and memorable spots for enjoying the renowned sunsets of the desert.    (*Excursion includes an aperitif).

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 4
Cardones Ravine – Petroglyphs / Rock Art – Rainbow Valley

AM: This morning’s hike to the Cardones Ravine begins in Guatín, at the point where the Puritama and Purifica rivers meet and turn into the mighty Vilama River. We will trek through diverse rock formations and vegetation, including ancient cacti standing at over seven meters tall. The region was once populated with an abundance of shepherding communities, so you will pass through former settlements as you walk.        

PM: Following lunch, we will strike out on a cultural excursion that begins in the Hierbas Buenas region. Here, you will find ancient petroglyphs that represent scenes of the ancient shepherds’ day-to-day lives. Having explored the caves and rock faces, we will continue on to Rainbow Valley, named for its multi-colored hills and cliffs, which were created by the buildup of different mineral deposits and their reflection of the sunlight.    

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 5
Tatio Geysers

AM/PM: Today’s full-day excursion will take us to a place dubbed “Grandpa crying,” which is the local name used to describe the Tatio Geysers. This geothermal field consists of large pools of boiling water and mud, fumaroles, and natural hot springs that sit at 4,321 meters above sea level. The geysers begin spouting at dawn, though this is also a good chance to appreciate the unique flora and fauna that have adapted and flourish in this extreme environment. On our return, we will stop at Machuca, a traditional village that was formally used by local shepherds.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 6
Ojos del Salar Salt Lakes – Departure

AM: On the final day of your stay at Alto Atacama (and depending on the time of your flight home or onward), we will go on a tour of Ojos del Salar salt lakes. This excursion will take us to these two incredibly deep freshwater pools that emerge unannounced from the arid desert plains. (*Includes aperitif)

PM: After returning to the lodge for lunch, you will be driven back to the Calama airport. As you head to the airport for your departing flight home or onward, enjoy your last look back at the spectacular Atacama Desert, a unique region of inspiring natural wonders.

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Price per person
Catarpe RoomQuitor RoomTilo Suite
6US$ 4,000 PPUS$ 3,250 PPUS$ 4,250 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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Traveler Reviews

“Everything was wonderful but the highlight by far was the 5 days trekking in the Angamarca region with Marcial. The scenery and culture was astonishing, and Marcial was the perfect guide.”Linda Bernstein