Atacama was a natural paradise for this amateur photographer, novice star gazer and clunky-but-game hiker. Along with Africa, it was my most incredible solo adventure. It is also the perfect spot for families, couples or friends. If you have never tried an upscale adventure trip where the focus is on exploration and remote location, you are missing out!
Dramatic scenery made its debut on the flight from Santiago to Calama with the snowy Andes Mountains and glimpse of Aconcagua, the tallest peak in the Americas. Thankfully I chose my seat well. The colors turned from white to ochre when I landed in northern Chile and the driest desert in the world. From the car ride, I snapped a picture of the barren yet starkly beautiful terrain. The snow soon reappeared in the distance, although now it was crowning dozens of volcanoes. This region is a feast for the senses!
When I arrived, an expert guide joined me at a table with a built-in map of the surrounding area. Over a Cerveza Cristal, we planned my stay: hikes up sand dunes and through a river gorge, a high-altitude trek among guanacos and vicuñas (and across iced-over waters), a hot springs soak with wine, a flamingo photo shoot, and a desert gallop on one of their prized horses. I am not known for roughing it, so this ambitious itinerary was softened by pool and hot tub time, delicious farm-fresh food (and lots of it), a shower with outstanding water pressure, a comfy bed and a lemon-mint lip balm that I am still on a quest to find. The Scandinavian-style lodge felt like a private retreat that perfectly blended earthy elements with understated luxury.
The Chilean landscape is the star of the show. Where else can you get vast sand dunes, moonscape valleys, snow-capped volcanoes, chalk-white salt flats with posing flamingos, and an unrivaled night sky? To me, this is perfection. And, as a bonus, no jet lag!
Let us be your guide to exploring the world again.
Kristin Henley Travel will craft the perfect itinerary that meets your unique travel needs and style. You can expect a seamless, worry-free planning process where we take care of the time-consuming detail work. Instead of wasting hours searching the internet, let us share our industry expertise and global connections to deliver your dream trip.
We provide trusted support every step of the way and add value such as upgrades, resort credits and that handy tip for finding the best baguettes and brie in Paris.
All you have to do is focus on the joy of the journey… from the excited anticipation to the memories that linger well after you return.
Hi, I’m Kristin Henley
TRAVEL ADVISOR WITH DEPARTURE LOUNGE AND OWNER OF KRISTIN HENLEY TRAVEL