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Awasi Atacama Hotel 4-Night Itinerary

Often described as “otherworldly,” the Atacama Desert is a region of lunar-like landscapes, crystallized salt flats, spewing geysers, and purple-shaded volcanoes that contrast with green oases and turquoise lakes for a breathtakingly beautiful destination.

To get you here, you’ll be privately guided by Surtrek representatives from the moment you arrive in Chile to the moment you leave. Once experiencing this customizable 5-Day/4-Night Atacama tour based at the luxury Awasi Hotel, you’ll be provided a series of “excursions” that will allow you to enjoy the magic of northern Chile’s Atacama Desert.

In the desert, jaded travelers, adrenalin junkies, and softcore adventurers alike can find endless options for adventure. Imagine yourself trekking through the lunar-like Moon Valley, horseback riding through remote mountain canyons, floating with ease in a Dead-Sea-like desert lake, or feeling the wind blowing through your hair on a mountain bike ride across this surprisingly surreal terrain.

Complement these daily sensation-filled expeditions by getting carried away by the local and international cuisine of Awasi’s Relais & Chateaux restaurant, as well as reveling in the massages and hot springs of this luxury desert lodge. And once night falls, there’s nothing better than gazing out at the endless numbers of stars twinkling across the heavens of the clearest and driest desert in the world.

One warning, though: Once you’ve explored the natural beauty and geographic wonders of this region, you may never want to leave.

Reviews

“The trip to the Galapagos was really fantastic! Although it was quite short, the trip itinerary made time for us to do quite a lot of things. Everything went very smoothly, too.”Maggie Clark

Highlights

Chile, San Pedro de Atacama, Atacama History Tour, Death Valley Horseback Riding, Moon Valley Excursion, Tara Salt Flat Tour, Mountain Biking.

Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1: Arrival in San Pedro de Atacama – San Pedro Ancient Ruins Tour
Day 2: Ayllus Mountain Biking – Moon Valley Hiking
Day 3: Tatio Geysers & Machuca Village Visit
Day 4: Atacama Salt-Flat Mountain Biking – Floating in the Salty Cejar Lagoon
Day 5: Catarpe Horseback Riding – 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 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 city of Calama Chile (CJC), which has the airport closest 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 your destination.

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.

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 rooms you choose (Superior Round Suite or 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 rhythm and 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’re fully prepared when you head out mountain biking and hiking.

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
Ayllus Mountain Biking – Moon Valley Hiking

7:00 AM: Breakfast – The morning dining experience at Awasi Atacama takes advantage of local produce to create breakfast dishes that are light and tasty. In addition, international breakfast standards like pancakes and French toast will be in the buffet.

8:00 AM: Ayllus Mountain Biking – This morning, you’ll get into gear for some desert mountain biking around the San Pedro oasis, visiting four ayllus (meaning “family settlements” or “communes” in the ancient Quechua language of the Incas).

Some 15 of these ayllus continue to exist around San Pedro de Atacama, each faithfully embodying the peaceful agrarian way of life of the ethnic Lickan Antay people. As these small communities have remained relatively intact for millennia, you’ll see homes built with straw roofs and adobe, as well as thousand-year-old irrigation channels that water family gardens.

11:00 PM: Return to the Lodge / Free Time – Returning to the hotel, you’ll have time to rest up and relax before lunch.

12:00 PM: Lunch – From the Awasi Atacama buffet, choose from at least a half-dozen options; perhaps an Asian-inspired lunch featuring spring rolls with shrimp, or maybe a dorado fish grilled with peppers and onions. And what about preceding any of this with a salad entree made with queso de cabra (local goat cheese), shrimp, and merkén – a Mapuche condiment made from red smoked chili peppers?

1:30 PM: 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 the “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 hiking 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 along this extraordinary trail.

5:00 PM: Return to the Lodge / Free Time – Cycling our way back to the lodge, you’ll have time to shower, rest up and relax before dinner in the Awasi pool, lounge and bar, or simply enjoy some quiet downtime in the solitude of your own private outdoor patio.

7:30 PM: Gourmet Dining – Tonight’s dinner will be in either the main indoor dining room or the outdoor dining area – the choice is up to you. Awasi Atacama created this variety of intimate indoor and outdoor settings where guests can be in the company of interesting people from around the world while tasting fine dishes and sipping the hotel’s incredible selection of Chilean wines.

8:30 PM: Briefing on the Next Day’s activities – Your private guide will again outline the details of the next day’s excursion – this time the pre-dawn outing to Tatio Geysers. They’ll explain what to expect at this chilly site, what to wear and bring along, as well as to give you 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 wine …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 3
Tatio Geysers & Machuca Village Visit

5:00 AM: Buffet Breakfast – As your full-day Tatio Geysers excursion will take you out into the cold, high-altitude, Atacama morning, the lodge’s expert chefs will create hot breakfast dishes that are hearty and filling. But as always, international breakfast standards like pancakes and French toast will be in the buffet.

6:00 AM: Tatio Geysers – The Atacama Desert is an endless wonderland when it comes to natural geology, and the El Tatio Geysers prove just that! You’ll have to get up early to enjoy the show just as the sun comes up, which is when El Tatio is most impressive, given the angle of light that casts through the haze while steam billows from the ground.

Driving off before sunrise, we’ll spend the whole morning exploring the largest geothermal field in the southern hemisphere. Referred to by locals as “Grandpa crying,” the Tatio Geysers sit at 2.7 miles (4,321 m) above sea level and consist of some 70 beautiful fountains of water and steam spewing into the air. Along with these are 60 pools of boiling water and bubbling mud, in addition to a number of natural hot springs and small fumaroles (openings in the ground that emits steam and gases).

While traveling to and from the site, this will be a good chance to appreciate the unique plant and animal life that has adapted to this extreme environment; so keep your eyes peeled for llama-like vicuñas, foxes, wild donkeys, and flamingos, and several other species.

1:00 PM: Lunch – Later, while returning to San Pedro, we’ll stop in the village of Machuca for lunch at a typical local restaurant. Here, you might want to choose from Chilean specialties such as quinoa, lucuma, traditional Atacama patasca stew, and papas andinas (native purple potatoes). More daring adventurers may even want to sample the llama meat served-up in town. You might want to also sample some ice cream made from desert fruits like algarrobo or chañar.

2:30 PM: Machuca: While in Machuca, we’ll tour this tiny village situated high up in the Chilean Altiplano. Seemingly suspended in an ancient past, this traditional settlement is known for its Andean handicrafts, as well as for its picturesque homes made of adobe, cactus-wood, and straw.

To get a good sense of life in the Andes, we’ll walk among this settlement’s handful of houses, meet with locals, and learn all about this small community’s history and traditions.

We’ll then visit the Machuca church, a simple, picturesque white building with sky-blue doors. You can also discover the traditional handmade products of the inhabitants; whose livelihoods largely depend on these handicrafts and on rearing llamas.

4:00 PM: Return to the Lodge / Free Time – Having made such an early start on today’s full-day excursion, you can rest up and relax before dinner.

7:30 PM: Gourmet Dining – Tonight’s à la carte dinner will feature enough options to please a range of different tastes and diets. Sit down with your companions for a freshly prepared à la carte dinner. Enjoy a delicious three-course meal, paired with a choice of fine international wines. The modern sophisticated menu is light on carbs and sauces, but also extensive. Most guests order seafood menus of tuna ceviche, squid ink risotto or green banana-breaded pan-fried fillet of grouper stuffed with crabmeat, though meat-lovers can select grilled rib-eye steak, roasted pork or another hearty fare.

Desserts —- like pears simmered in red wine or moist chocolate cake with chocolate sauce — simply sparkle at Awasi.

8:30 PM: Briefing on the Next Day’s Activities – Your private guide will outline the details of tomorrow’s full day of activities on the Atacama Salt Flat, explaining more about this site and what to bring along on this excursion.

9:00 PM: Socializing & Relaxing / Turning in for the Night – Relax in comfy couches and overstuffed chairs as you enjoy Awasi’s open bar while sharing stories about your Atacama excursions with other international guests. A lengthy list of Chilean wines features a 2008 Amaral Sauvignon Blanc and a very food-friendly 2007 Aliwen Cabernet Sauvignon–Syrah, while Awasi also offers a selection of premium wines for an additional fee.

Before turning in for the night, you can also do some end-of-the-day stargazing in the Atacama skies from the lodge’s own observatory.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 4
Atacama Salt-Flat Mountain Biking – Floating in the Salty Cejar Lagoon

7:00 AM: Buffet Breakfast – 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.

8:00 AM: Atacama Salt Flat Mountain Biking – For this morning’s Awasi excursion, we’ll get in gear for some mountain biking across the Salar de Atacama (the “Atacama Salt Flat”). An unbeatable sight, this 1,000 square mile salt lake is the center-stage of surprise. The largest salt flat in Chile, and the third-largest in the world, the Atacama Salt Flat’s pleasant climate and user-friendly routes provide unparalleled landscapes that are the ideal setting for cycling. Properly dressed in a good hat and, with sunblock applied, and packing plenty of water, we’ll begin a 16-mile ride across the salt flat – an easy ride, mostly on scenic paved road.

12:00 PM: Picnic Lunch – Today’s Awasi Atacama lunchtime picnic experience will take 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 have created 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.

1:30 PM: Floating in Cejar Lagoon – After lunching and having rested up, we’ll explore one of the Atacama Salt Flat’s wonders: The Cejar Lagoon. A turquoise jewel, its waters are even saltier than the Dead Sea, meaning they provide for a great floating effect. When testing this lake’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.

5:00 PM: Return to the Lodge / Free Time – Making our way back to the lodge, you’ll have plenty of time to shower, rest up and relax before dinner.

7:00 PM: Farewell Dinner – Tonight — you’re last evening at Awasi — you’ll once again find that the culinary and wine programs at this lodge are nothing short of inspiring, showcasing locally grown products such as pumpkin, chañar, peas, and quinoa. A three-course set dinner menu will be served, with recent highlights that include grilled beef with Socaire potato au gratin and a salted salmon filet with sautéed broad beans. Another menu with more standard cuisine is also offered for less adventurous palates, while the kitchen is more than happy to accommodate specific culinary whims upon request.

8:30 PM: Briefing on the Next Day’s activities – Your private guide will again outline the details of tomorrow’s activities, explaining how to prepare for your Catarpe horseback riding experience, what to bring, the wildlife you might see, as well as more details on what to expect during your morning excursion.

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 – In the evening, fires will be lit and “sundowners” and snacks enjoyed under the open sky to celebrate your stay in the Atacama Desert.

At night, sitting out under the velvety Chilean sky, you can unwind to glimmering stars above, shadows in the distance, and the absolute silence of the magnificent Atacama Desert.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 5
Catarpe Horseback Riding – Departure

7:00 AM: Buffet Breakfast & Packing up – For your final breakfast at the hotel, fill up on Awasi’s exquisite protein group in the form of salmon carpaccio, bacon, sausages, and eggs. Then make your selection of carbs from the buffet, loaded with hash browns, pancakes, waffles, French toasts, cereals, oats, and yogurt (just to name a few of the options!). Complement all of this with a fresh selection of fruits (some of which are exotically Chilean), juices and coffee. We can’t think of a better way to start your day!

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

8:00 AM: Catarpe Horseback Riding – For your final Awasi excursion, you’ll lift yourself into the saddle of an Awasi horse to begin a 2-1/2-hour ride to the north of San Pedro village, following the course of the San Pedro River to the “Catarpe Valley” (Valle de Catarpe). On this ride, you’ll see an incredible variety of landscapes and terrains, cross rivers, navigate narrow canyons, and ride over massive sand dunes.

From your mount, you’ll also have an incredible view of the San Pedro Valley from a perspective few travelers witness. While in the valley, you’ll see where the green vegetation around the banks of the San Pedro River makes for an amazing contrast with the desert’s stark brown and red.

On the way back from this farewell excursion in the Atacama Desert, we’ll cross the “Passage of the Bulls” (Paso de los Toros), which was the first road that connected San Pedro to Calama. The view across the entire valley is simply amazing.

1:30 PM: Lunch – For your final Awasi mid-day meal, the lodge’s cooking team will have worked hand in hand to ensure that your noontime culinary journey is every bit as exciting as what you have seen on this morning’s Catarpe ride. This gastronomic adventure might just introduce you to local favorites like Chañar-based sweets.

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
5US$ 6,000 PPUS$ 4,000 PPUS$ 7,635 PPUS$ 5,090 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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“I was very happy in every way with your booking and Cuyabeno Lodge. It surpassed my expectations in every way. No hitches with flights and transportation. The lodge was beautiful. The staff was professional and friendly.”Tim Matheson