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Awasi Atacama Hotel 3-Night Itinerary

What’s called “the driest place on Earth” may not seem like an ideal spot for a luxury vacation, but – perhaps surprisingly – the Atacama Desert is one of Chile’s jewels for upscale adventure travel. In this surreal, almost alien landscape, you’ll find plenty of exhilarating activities that will keep you mesmerized for days.

With its striking and awe-inspiring beauty, you’ll be stunned by this area’s imposing volcanoes, crystallized salt flats, and pink-flamingo-filled lagoons in the middle of the desert.

To make getting here easy, you’ll be privately guided by Surtrek representatives from the moment you arrive in Chile to the moment you leave. Once here, you can go on a tour such as this customizable 4-Day/3-Night Atacama adventure based at the luxury Awasi Hotel. Staying at Awasi, you can select from this lodge’s collection of over two-dozen “excursions” that will allow you to fully experience the magic of the Atacama, the silence of its landscape, and the warmth of its people.

With your privately guided tours — and traveling in your own privately assigned 4x4 vehicle — you’ll travel to your own rhythm to places of your own particular interests. Picture yourself horseback riding through the “Devil’s Throat” Canyon, peering across the lunar-like Moon Valley from high on a mountain outcrop, or floating with ease in a Dead-Sea-like desert lake.  

Reviews

“I enjoyed the scenery and the exotic wildlife on the islands very much. The airport transfers in both directions went smoothly and the service on board was very good.”Nikola Dimitrov

Highlights

Chile, San Pedro de Atacama, Highland Salt Flats, Hike, Lake Mountain Biking.

Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1: Arrival in San Pedro de Atacama – San Pedro Ancient Ruins Tour
Day 2: Antiplanic Lagoons (full-day overland expedition)
Day 3: Kari Canyon Hike – Garganta del Diablo Horseback Riding
Day 4: Atacama Salt Flat & Cejar Lake Mountain Biking – Departure
Itinerary Map

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival in San Pedro de Atacama – San Pedro Ancient Ruins Tour

9:30 AM (approx.): Santiago de Chile Flight to Calama, Chile – If just arriving in Chile on an international flight and planning to proceed immediately on to Atacama, travelers typically make their 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 help you with checking in for your flight to the city of Calama, which has the airport closest to San Pedro de Atacama.

In either case, plan on arriving and checking in at the airport at least one hour before your 2-hour morning flight to Calama.

1:00 PM (approx.): Departure for the San Pedro Oasis & the Awasi Atacama Lodge – Upon landing at the Calama airport, uniformed Awasi 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 the ancient trading town of San Pedro de Atacama, you will be served a delicious box lunch consisting of homemade baked goods, Chilean specialties, hot coffee, and fresh juice.

You will then pass through the oasis village of San Pedro de Atacama and continue for about a mile to the Awasi Atacama Hotel. Nestled behind an ancient adobe wall, you could easily pass by and not realize that a contemporary lodge lies within. When entering the complex, though, you’ll first see the private patios, as well as tall trees providing natural shade, and open-air communal areas for enjoying the world’s clearest skies. Undoubtedly, your first impression will be that Awasi is the perfect place to enjoy the very best of the Atacama.

2:30 PM (approx.): Arriving at the Awasi Atacama Hotel – Entering 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 two categories of guestrooms you choose (a Superior Round Suite or a Round Room), each provides marvelous dark-wood floors, king-sized beds fitted with crisp white linens, and an ottoman lounging area, which all complement the rustic exteriors of adobe, stone, wood, and thatched roofs.

4:00 PM (approx.): San Pedro Ancient Ruins Tour – Once a mining town, the village of San Pedro de Atacama long ago capitalized on its surroundings to become a base for starry-eyed travelers wanting to explore this “archaeological capital of Chile.”

Having had a chance to get situated in your room, we’ll spend a couple of hours exploring two sites just outside the village:

From the Awasi Hotel, we will head to the pre-Colombian Pukará de Quitor, an ancient stone fortress that was the center of the political and social power of the Atacameño civilization in the 12th century. From your private guide, you’ll hear all about the fascinating history of the civilizations that inhabited this settlement, including how it resisted attacks from both the Aymara and Inca civilizations while managing to prosper in such an arid environment.

Our next stop will be the Tulor the archaeological site, where you’ll discover the cultural remains of the artisan population that inhabited this settlement before the arrival of the conquistadors. Though harsh desert winds and sand have partially buried some of the buildings, the main structures are still distinguishable. Your guide will tell you all about the intriguing history of this 2,400-year-old village.

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

7:00 PM: Welcome Dinner – Tonight, your welcome dinner will be served in Awasi’s open-air restaurant. Before dining, though, on your table you’ll find a welcome pot of chachacoma tea – a local remedy to ease your adjustment to the Altiplano’s high altitude. Shortly after, you’ll be served a sophisticated international or Andean fare, whether quinoa tabbouleh, empanadas, or chupe de mariscos (a seafood stew).

8:30 PM: Briefing on the Next Day’s activities – As the guests in each room are assigned their own private guide and a 4x4 vehicle to explore the Atacama at their own pace, later this same evening you’ll meet with your guide to discuss your excursions planned for the next day.

In this briefing, your guide will offer useful tips on what to bring, what to wear, and what you can expect so that you are fully prepared when you head out from the lodge to the Antiplanic Lagoons in the morning.

9:00 PM: Socializing / Relaxing / Turning in for the Night – After a long and hectic first day, you may wish to sit across from one of the lodge’s outdoor lounge areas 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
Antiplanic Lagoons (full-day overland expedition)

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

8:00 AM: Antiplanic Lagoons – Starting out on this full-day tour, we’ll drive for an hour and a half, ascending the vast and barren Altiplano high plateau.

Once reaching this morning’s destination, you’ll soak in the stunning scenery of Miscanti and Miniques Lakes, two natural jewels of northern Chile. Split from a single body of water by a volcanic lava flow, the two brackish-water lakes lie in the shadows of the mighty Miniques Volcano and the towering Cerro Miscanti Mountain. As such, these two lagunas provide a magical contrast, with their deep blue surfaces perfectly reflecting the white snowcapped mountains that surround them.

Located in the breathtakingly beautiful Los Flamencos National Reserve, these lagoons were witnesses to the first human settlements in the area – some 6,000 years ago! Today, this mix of highland deserts, mountains and ice is the ideal site for not only photography but also wildlife watching. As you’ll see, as the lakes’ colorful waters and white shores welcome a large variety of flamingoes and ducks, as well as foxes, llama-like vicunas and alpacas, and ostrich-like ñandus.

Finding yourself immersed in this postcard-perfect valley surrounded by arresting mountainous relief, you’ll see for yourself how the scenic beauty of the heart-shaped Miscanti Lake and the Miñiques Lagoon is a true gift of nature.

12:00 PM: Antiplanic Picnic Lunch – While still in this high plateau region, you’ll be served an Awasi Atacama lunch that takes advantage of local produce, filling the menu with innovative twists on northern Chilean cuisine. With the potential for cool days in the Antiplanic Lagoons high-altitude location, the lodge’s expert chefs will create piping-hot picnic meals that are hearty and filling, complementing local traditions with fresh, colorful salads, Peruvian corn, quinoa and a range of appetizing meat or vegetarian mains.

6:00 PM: Return to the Lodge / Free Time – Returning to the hotel after your full-day Antiplanic excursion, you’ll have time to shower, rest up and relax before dinner.

7:30 PM: Gourmet Dining – Tonight’s dinner will be in the main indoor dining room or the outdoor dining rooms – the choice is up to you. Awasi 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 the Next Day’s activities – Your private 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 Desert.

9:00 PM: Socializing & Relaxing / Turning in for the Night – As with every afternoon and evening, 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, as Chile’s star-filled sky serves as a ceiling for the Awasi’s restaurant and bar, you can always do some stargazing at the world’s clearest skies.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 3
Kari Canyon Hike – Garganta del Diablo Horseback Riding

7:00 AM: Buffet Breakfast – A savory international breakfast will be served this morning, with a range of excellent buffet and cooked options from which to choose. Guests find that the level of comfort, service, and cuisine on offer is truly exceptional, especially in this challenging desert environment.

8:00 AM: Moon Valley / Kari Viewpoint & Gorge – Located less than six miles from San Pedro, Moon Valley enchants tourists with its random formations of sand and stone whose textures and colors have been achieved over millennia from raging floods, intense sun, and unforgiving winds.

To fully take in this mesmerizing lunar-like landscape, this morning you’ll visit the Kari Viewpoint, also known as “Coyote Rock” (Piedra del Coyote). This rocky outcrop rests high above the valley affording sweeping views of the otherworldly setting below. Standing on the edge of the Salt Mountain Range, you’ll peer down into Moon Valley, where geologic patterns are weaved throughout a dry, river floor. As this overhanging rock is a perfect vantage point, it has become a famous spot for taking take pictures that reflect the essential jaggedness and intense color of the Atacama.

Rugged and rocky, part desert and part alpine, Moon Valley is a bizarre scene to step into, but that’s exactly what we’ll do as we begin our hike along a narrow path down into the Kari Gorge below.

Here, you’ll find crackling walls of salt crystals and sand dunes, along with spectacular rock formations of gypsum, clay, and crusty carpets of even more salt. With volcanoes featuring across the skyline and jagged rocks filling the foreground, you’ll have to fight the urge to fill an entire memory card with shots as we proceed on this extraordinary trail.

1:00 PM: Buffet Lunch – After returning the hotel, the Awasi’s Relais & Chateaux restaurant and its friendly staff will have specially prepared Andean and Chilean cuisine. You can opt to try one of the local specialties like parrilladas (a mix of grilled meats), seafood risotto, Mediterranean-style salad, and Chilean staples such as pastel de choclo (maize casserole).

2:00 PM: Garganta del Diablo Horseback Riding – Rested and refueled, this afternoon you’ll saddle up a Chilean steed and ride on horseback through a labyrinth of canyons, dunes, desert oases, and ancient ruins. Witnessing fantastic views just behind every nook and cranny of the route, we’ll reach a valley that cuts through the Salt Mountain Range (Cordillera de la Sal) located just a couple miles north of San Pedro de Atacama.

Reaching the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat), you’ll discover a series of bizarre caves and curious rock formations, as well as wildlife consisting of desert lizards, foxes, and hares. On your horse, you’ll ride through a narrow passage surrounded by ridges until finding a detour that leads to “El Tunel,” a passageway that runs through the mountain. Concluding a great ride to an equally stunning site, we’ll then loop back to the hotel on our mounts.

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

7:00 PM: Gourmet Dining – For tonight’s dinner, you might select mushroom quinoa risotto or lamb with tabbouleh and hummus. The chef’s focus is always firmly fixed on using innovative techniques and a modern approach to both the flavor and the presentation of such dishes, while also staying true to regional recipes and seasonal ingredients.

8:30 PM: Briefing on the Next Day’s activities – Your private guide will again outline the details of the next day’s, explaining how to prepare for your mountain biking trip across the Atacama Salt flat, what to bring for experiencing the Cejar Lagoon, the wildlife you might see, as well as more details on what to expect during your morning and afternoon excursions.

As you will be leaving the next day, your guide will also confirm your exact pick-up time, reconfirm your flight, tell you what to expect at the airport, and provide other useful information.

9:00 PM: Socializing / Relaxing / Turning in for the Night – Following an already full day, you may want a nightcap before retiring. The perfect spot for this is the lodge’s outdoor lounge, where you’ll witness a kaleidoscope of stars and other heavenly bodies in the clear Chilean sky.

As the temperature may dip to become even chilly, the roaring fire pit outside in the lounge makes for a warm and warming convivial spot in the evening. 

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 4
Atacama Salt Flat & Cejar Lake Mountain Biking – Departure

6:30 AM: Buffet Breakfast & Packing up – For your final breakfast at Awasi Atacama, join everyone in the main dining room and order up some eggs any way you like …even benedict- or omelet-style with your choice of filling. In addition to international breakfast standards like pancakes and French toast, Chilean specialties will also be in the buffet.

Following breakfast, you’ll have time to pack your luggage for your afternoon departure.

8:00 AM: Atacama Salt Flat & Cejar Lake Mountain Biking – For your final Awasi lodge excursion, we’ll get into gear for some mountain biking across the “Atacama Salt Flat” (Salar de Atacama). An unbeatable sight, this 1,000 square mile salt lake is the center-stage of surprise.

One of these wonders is the Cejar Lagoon, a turquoise jewel whose waters are even saltier than the Dead Sea, meaning they provide for a great floating effect. When testing the lagoon’s incredible saltiness, you’ll see for yourself how your body floats without the least difficulty, like you’re flying, making it almost impossible to sink!

And despite being located at over 2,000 meters above sea level, you’ll be surprised by the lagoon’s pleasant, almost warm waters. All of this makes any visit here a fun-filled but also a relaxing experience.

Adding to the dreamlike character of this aquamarine lake in the middle of the world’s driest desert, you may spot some of the pink flamingos that occasionally feed here. All of this combines into a color-filled spectacle and an unforgettable experience.

12:00 PM: Return to the Lodge / Free Time – After getting back to the Awasi Atacama following a morning of biking and bathing, why not complete the revitalization of your spirits through the experienced hands of Awasi’s expert masseuse?

1:30 PM: Lunch – The lodge’s outdoor dining room gives you the option of enjoying a leisurely lunch by the pool, where you can enjoy a meal paired with a slightly chilled glass of Chilean white wine as the sun warms your body.

3:00 PM: Drive to the Calama Airport – After lunch, while being driven back to the airport in Calama, 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, Awasi Atacama staff will be on hand to help you with your luggage, get your boarding pass, and help you check in. At the airport’s security gate, your guide and Awasi staff will say goodbye, truly hoping that you enjoyed your stay and your Atacama travel experience.

If you’re like most travelers to Atacama, your departing flight will take you back to the city of Santiago, the capital of Chile, where you will be met by Surtrek representatives if planning to continue your tour in the country (otherwise, you’ll be able to easily catch your connecting flight home or onward).

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Breakfast - Lunch

Prices

2020 - Price per person
Days
Round RoomSuperior Round Suite
SingleDoubleSingleDouble
4US$ 4,500 PPUS$ 3,000 PPUS$ 5,775 PPUS$ 3,850 PP
*Price per person based upon double occupancy.
*PP (per person)
Included in the price:
  • Private transfers from/to Calama airport, according to the hotel check-in and check-out schedules
  • Accommodations, as indicated in the itinerary
  • All meals, as indicated in the itinerary
  • Beverages (open bar for soft drinks, most alcoholic beverages and a variety of Chilean wines)
  • Private excursions (one full-day excursion daily or two half-day excursions daily)
  • Services of a private guide and a 4x4 vehicle
Not included in the price:
  • International flights & domestic flights
  • Tips & gratuities
  • Health & travel insurance (highly recommended)
  • Personal expenses (phone calls, etc.)
  • Premium alcoholic beverages

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“We had an absolutely amazing trip! Surtrek coordinated a Galapagos Cruise on the Natural Paradise yacht and then a stay at the Napo Wildlife Center. Everything was beyond our expectations!! I highly recommend Surtrek.”Janda Terese Stevens