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Cumbres Hotel - San Pedro de Atacama 4-Night Itinerary

Experience the unearthly panoramas of northern Chile’s Atacama Desert on this customizable 5-Day/4-Night Atacama tour based at the luxury Hotel Cumbres San Pedro de Atacama.

This itinerary is an example of the more than a dozen half-day and full-day adventure activities that can be selected from the hotel’s menu of excursions according to your own particular interests and abilities.

On these desert explorations, you can enjoy unique experiences that combine comfort, relaxation, and awe as you discover the mystique of the barren yet strikingly beautiful world of northern Chile – a setting for pure adventure.

And to make travel to the otherworldly region easy, you’ll be privately guided by Surtrek representatives from the moment you arrive in Chile to the moment you leave.

Whether you explore the desert’s Moon Valley on horseback, drive overland in a 4x4 to Altiplano lagoons, bathe in the volcanically heated waters of the Tatio Geysers, or float effortlessly in the Cejar salt lake, you’re sure to find this an unforgettable introduction to the astounding Atacama Desert.


“The Galapagos Islands was a dream trip for me. Surtrek expertly guided me to a boat expedition, activities and experiences that created the adventure I wanted. Every day was special, as we snorkeled with sea lions, sea turtles and penguins, hiked and lear”Kris Dreessen


Atacama Desert, Death Valley Horseback Riding, Ascending the Sacred Mountains, Full-Moon Walk, Culinary Route, Astronomical Tour, Horseback Riding, Death Valley Mountain Biking

Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1: Arrival in San Pedro de Atacama – Hotel Cumbres – Moon Valley Mountain Biking
Day 2: Altiplano Lagoons (full-day overland expedition)
Day 3: Rainbow Valley on Horseback
Day 4: Tatio Geysers & Machuca Village Visits
Day 5: Atacama Salt Flat and Floating in Cejar Lake – Departure
Itinerary Map

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival in San Pedro de Atacama – Hotel Cumbres – Moon Valley Mountain Biking

8:30 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 two-hour flight to the Calama.

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 Cumbres Atacama Lodge – Upon landing at the Calama airport, uniformed Hotel Cumbres 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 Hotel Cumbres Atacama. 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 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 Hotel Cumbres is the perfect place to enjoy the very best of the Atacama.

2:30 PM (approx.): Arriving at the Cumbres 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 guest quarters you choose (Superior Double or the Junior Suite), 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.): Moon Valley Mountain Biking – Gear up for this late-afternoon mountain biking expedition within a canyon of the Salt Mountain Range, which is a rugged expanse of natural stone and sand sculptures that were hewn from an ancient lake, millions of years ago.

These “salt mountains” provide a privileged perch from which to soak up views of the valley and beyond, offering an unbeatable introduction to this exceptional region.

After peddling across the San Pedro River bridge and reaching the San Isidro Chapel, we’ll arrive at the wind-sculpted Moon Valley just in time for sunset, as the light casts a magical glow over the rough, rocky land all around you. Relish the kaleidoscope of colors as the sun dips lower and lower, leaving you with an awe-inspiring image you won’t soon forget.

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 at the lodge’s Kunza Restaurant. Before dining, on your table you’ll find a welcome pot of chachacoma tea – a local remedy to ease your adjustment to the Altiplano’ 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 – Later this same evening you’ll meet with your guide will 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 from the lodge to the Altiplano 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
Altiplano Lagoons (full-day overland expedition)

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

8:00 AM: Altiplano 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, suspended at 14,763 feet. (4,500m) above sea level. Once arriving, 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 volcanic lava flow, the two brackish-water lakes lie in the shadows of the mighty Miniques Volcano and are at the foot of 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 in the lakes’ sparkling waters and white shores playing host to an array of intriguing wildlife.

The flamingos here are the most eye-catching of all, their pink silhouettes contrasting with the blue of the lagoons, though there are many other bird species here, including the Horned Coot, Baird’s Sandpiper, Puna Plover, and Crested Duck, 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 amazing scenic beauty of the heart-shaped Miscanti Lake and the Miñiques Lagoon are true gifts of nature.

12:00 PM: Altiplano Picnic Lunch – At noon, our Cumbres Atacama 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 Altiplano Lagoons’ high-altitude location, the lodge’s expert chefs will have created picnic meals that are hearty and filling, complementing local traditions with options that include 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 our full-day Altiplano excursion, you’ll have time to shower, rest up and relax before dinner.

7:30 PM: Gourmet Dining – Tonight’s dinner will be another chance to be in the company of interesting travelers from around the world while savoring fine dishes and sipping the lodge’s incredible selection of Chilean wines.

8:30 PM: Briefing on the Next Day’s activities – Your guide will again outline the details of tomorrow’s activities, explaining the sites you’ll 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 Cumbres outdoor bar, you can always engage in some stargazing of the world’s clearest skies …with a glass of wine in hand.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 3
Rainbow Valley on Horseback

8:00 am: Buffet Breakfast – Your morning meal will be served buffet-style, featuring cheese, cereal, style, ham, yogurt, bread, and muffins, as well as scrambled eggs topped with linseed and served with homemade bread, muesli with yogurt and fruit, espresso coffee and fresh juices.

8:00 AM: Hierbas Buenas – Saddling up our horses this morning — in an easy gait, a canter or perhaps a trot — we’ll ride to the Hierbas Buenas petroglyph site. Here, you’ll find volcanic rock formations that tell the history of the caravans of people who journeyed through this region some 6,000 years ago. Traces of these ancient tribes are found today in petroglyphs – mysterious inscriptions carved into desert stones and depicting foxes, flamingos, and lamas, but also human beings.

9:30 AM: Rainbow Valley – Leaving Hierbas Buenas, we’ll then ride our mounts to the morning’s main destination: Rainbow Valley. As if some geological graffiti artist has been in residence, the hills are covered in unique rainbow-colored stripes due to different concentrations of salt, clay, and minerals. These stripes of cobalt, gypsum, and lamprophyre illuminate the flanks of a forgotten river course in a blend of green, blue, pink, brown, rust, and yellow to create an explosion color.

12:00 PM: Rainbow Valley Picnicking – For your 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 in Rainbow Valley this morning. This picnic might just introduce you to local favorites like socaire potatoes, native quinoa, and Chañar- based sweets.

1:30 PM: Rio Grande Village Visit – Amid the dramatic backdrop of lofty peaks and unforgiving wilderness, we’ll ride over to Rio Grande, a magical village that is bringing back its ancient traditions. The village is characterized by quaint structures made of stone, mud, and straw, with fewer than 100 inhabitants living here. You’ll discover this a fascinating place for finding out about Chile’s indigenous life, as several of the members are llama shepherds, the community still uses age-old agricultural practice, and women planters continue to carry their infants in aguayos (colorful textiles) just as they have done for centuries. Rio Grande also provides insight into the adaptability of both humans and nature in such extreme conditions.

4:30 PM: Return to the Lodge / Free Time – After an exhilarating full-day Rainbow Valley excursion, and before a savory dinner, invigorate your body and soul in the lodge’s spa. In any case, you’ll have time to shower, rest up and relax before dining.

7:30 PM: Gourmet Dining – For a Chilean al fresco BBQ experience, opt for today’s dinner cooked on the “Fogon Atacameno.” This exclusive outdoor BBQ offers local delicacies such as grilled ostrich fillet. On selected days, the Fogon is surrounded by live traditional music and a veritable banquet of meats and salads.

8:30 PM: Briefing on the Next Day’s Activities – Your guide will outline the details of tomorrow’s morning activities, explaining the place you will visit and the wildlife you’re likely to see.

9:00 PM: Socializing & Relaxing / Turning in for the Night – Relax in comfy couches and overstuffed chairs as you enjoy the free open bar while sharing stories about your Atacama excursions with other guests. Before turning in for the night, you can also do some final stargazing in the Atacama skies from the lodge’s outdoor lounge.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 4
Tatio Geysers & Machuca Village Visits

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. In addition, 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 before dawn to enjoy the show just as the sun rises, which is when El Tatio is most impressive given the angle of light cast through the haze as steam billows from the ground.

Arriving early, we’ll spend the whole morning exploring the largest geothermal field in the southern hemisphere. Referred to by locals a “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).

Once at this chilly site, you’ll also have a chance for some warm bathing in a swimming pool specially installed in this volcanically heated geothermal field.

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, among many other species.

1:00 PM: Lunch – Later, while returning to San Pedro, we’ll stop in the village of Machuca for lunch in a typical mountain 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 can also try ice cream made from desert fruits like chañar or algarrobo. All and all, you can’t go wrong.

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 adobe, cactus wood, and straw buildings, as well as its Andean handicrafts.

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 yet picturesque white building with sky-blue doors. You can also discover the traditional handmade products of the inhabitants; whose livelihood largely depends on creating these goods and rearing llamas.

4:00 PM: Return to the Lodge / Free Time – Having had an exhilarating full-day excursion, rest up and relax before later dining.

7:30 PM: Gourmet Farewell Dining – Tonight’s farewell dinner will feature enough options to please a range of different tastes and diets. Sit down for the last dinner with your new companions for a freshly prepared à la carte dinner. Enjoy a delicious three-course meal, paired with a choice of fine Chilean wines.

8:30 PM: Briefing on the Next Day’s Activities – Your 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.

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, inform you how to pay your bar tab, and provide other useful information.

9:00 PM: Socializing & Relaxing / Turning in for the Night – Relax in comfy couches and overstuffed chairs as you enjoy Cumbres’ 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 Cumbres 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 outdoor lounge.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 5
Atacama Salt Flat and Floating in Cejar Lake – Departure

6:30 AM: Buffet Breakfast & Packing up – For your final breakfast at Cumbres 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 also be in the buffet.

Following breakfast, you’ll have time to pack your luggage and take a good last look at the Atacama from the lodge’s rooftop.

8:00 AM: Atacama Salt Flat & Floating in Cejar Lake – For your final Cumbres excursion, we’ll drive across the Salar de Atacama (the “Atacama Salt Flat”). This 1,000 square mile salt lake is an unbeatable sight and the center-stage of surprise.

In the center of the salt flats, you’ll find one of its wonders: The Cejar Lagoon, a turquoise jewel whose waters are even saltier than the Dead Sea. This means that a genuine floatation experience is all too easy. The high concentration of salt in this lagoon allows you to float effortlessly on the water, with the high salt content buoying you up as you relax. So simply lie back and take in the gorgeous scenery that fills the horizon. And despite being located at over 2,000 meters above sea level, you’ll be surprised by the lake’s pleasant, almost warm waters.

Adding even more to the dreamlike character of this aquamarine lake in the middle of the world’s driest desert are the occasional pink flamingos that feed here. All of this combines into a color-filled spectacle for the eyes …an unforgettable experience.

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

1:30 PM: Lunch – For your farewell lunch, you’ll have the choice of dining indoors or enjoying a leisurely meal by the pools for a lunch paired with a 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, Cumbres 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 Cumbres 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


Price per person
5 DaysUS$ 1,966 PPUS$ 2,765 PP
*Price per person based upon double occupancy.
*PP (per person)
Included in the price:
  • A welcome drink
  • Accommodations in your selected guest room with a terrace
  • Breakfast buffets at the Kunza Restaurant
  • Lunch and dinner daily (including the entree, main course, and dessert)
  • Drinking water in your room
  • Free Wi-Fi in common areas
  • 4 single-serve coffee containers per stay
  • Access to the spa, including use of the pool, the Jacuzzis and saunas (but not including massages and treatments)
  • One full-day excursion and two half-day excursions per day
  • Transfers from and to the airport in Calama
  • Transfers to and from the town of San Pedro de Atacama at regular service times set by the hotel
  • Transfers to and from the Calama airport (shared service)
  • Open Bar from 11:00 a.m. to 11 p.m. (except for premium liquors
Not included in the price:
  • International and domestic flights
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Travel and medical insurance (highly recommended)
  • Personal expenses
  • Telephone calls
  • Premium alcoholic drinks
  • Massages and treatments in the spa

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Traveler Reviews

“The Galapagos Islands was a dream trip for me. Surtrek expertly guided me to a boat expedition, activities and experiences that created the adventure I wanted. Every day was special, as we snorkeled with sea lions, sea turtles and penguins, hiked and lear”Kris Dreessen