Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

At the base of South America’s Andean range, one will find a magical valley oasis – “lugar de sin- cuenta estrellas”, a place of endless stars and unparalleled beauty – Chile’s Atacama Desert.

Here it is easy to get lost in a reverie amidst the vast open landscape of salt flats, sand dunes, rock canyons, mountain peaks, geysers and brilliantly painted skies. Visitors come in search of solace, spiritual awakening and an exhilarating eco-adventure.

The Alto Atacama Desert Lodge and Spa, an all inclusive resort in Northern Chile’s Katarpe Valley, is the perfect base to explore and experience the beauty of Altiplano.

The Alto Atacama was created to exist in perfect harmony with nature. 

The property’s tranquil park setting is framed by the Cordillera de la Sal with stunning views from every angle. The architecture is simple integrating many of the traditional building techniques and of the local people. The exterior layout is very much like an adobe village complete with a rock garden, indigenous plants, and even a few resident llamas. Careful attention has been given to every detail to create synergy and achieve balance with the environment. The desert soil colors and textures the walls; the roofs are covered with native Coligue wood. Water is purified and recycled for irrigation and rooms are designed for maximum natural ventilation so there is no need for air conditioning. Even the outdoor landscape lighting is minimized as to not detract from the magnificent starry night skies.

Fast Fact: In 2011, National Geographic Magazine ranks Alto Atacama first on their list of best properties to visit in Chile and as one of the best in South America.

The Altiplano climate is mild and pleasant with warm sunny days and cool evenings. Humidity is practically non-existent. And, there are no bothersome insects to contend with…so leave the bug spray at home.

Upon arrival, guests are inspired by the resort’s amenities to relax and unwind. There are multiple pools, an outdoor terrace, walking trail, spa and a full service bar and restaurant.

Alto Atacama’s interior is as rich as it exterior structure… pure authentic luxury.

Natural earth tone colors combined with native fabrics, furniture and accents create a winning and unique design concept.

Rooms, spacious and inviting, are more like casitas… each with its own private terrace complete with a built-in cushioned daybed conducive for a perfect afternoon siesta.

A full size desk, quality linens, a mini-fridge, custom artisan chairs, and a large modern bathroom are standard.

Superior comfort and service are core to the Alto Atacama philosophy.

The atmosphere is intimately familiar. Getting in touch with your inner self and your loved ones has never been so easy. Stories of victorious climbs and conquests dominate the conversation around the fireplace in the cozy main house living room, lovers escape into the shadows to toast the moonlight, families play connect the dots…sharing the mystery of the Milky Way while other guests opt for personal pampering with a rejuvenating treatment at the spa or a private soak in the jacuzzi.

Insider Tip: A special indulgence can be found only at the Puri Spa – the “Royal Quinoa Facial”. Quinoa, an ancient grain, is mixed with a blend of natural ingredients to create a magical skin treatment that renews and revitalizes with glowing results.

Sports enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies will delight in the resort’s long list of available guided treks and high octane excursions.

Sand Surfing or Rock Repelling anyone?

For those who enjoy exploring on their own, the Alto Atacama is just a 15-20 minute walk from the eclectic little tourist town of San Pedro. Craft shops, local eateries and adventure tour outfitter offices dot San Pedro’s narrow streets. And, don’t be surprised to see this postage size town buzzing with backpackers on any given day. The Atacama has become a top destination for eco-conscious thrill seekers.

Beyond the obvious outdoor activities,visitors also quickly discover the rich history of the region. A number of organized cultural tours are readily available. Journey to the remote altiplanic villages of Caspana and Chiu-Chiu, take a bike ride through the scenic valley to the ancient Incan village of Kartape or explore the ruins of Pukara de Quitor, an illustrious Indian fortress that is now a national monument. Whatever your passion, the treasures of the Northern Chile’s high desert country will truly amaze and enrich you on every level.

Whether you stay a few days or a few weeks, the Alto Atacama Lodge and Spa will teach you how to transcend the ordinary. The sojourn starts in the desert…but ends with a profound discovery of self. One learns through the art of simple pleasures, meditation and soulful serenity that our existence is not unlike the millions of stars that illuminate the night or the delicate grains of sand that shape the expansive dunes.

The magnificent beauty of the Altiplano reminds us daily that we have a purpose in the circle of life and are just a small part of an amazing universe that should be protected, celebrated and shared.

When to Go: As soon as possible! An incredible adventure awaits you year round.

“300 Days of Sunshine and 365 Celestial Nights”

Preferred Airline: LAN offers daily flights to Calama from Santiago. Check LAN Airlines for special promotions or contact LAN Vacations for inclusive cost-saving packages and for all your trip planning needs.

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Resort Highlights:

  • One Hour Drive from Calama Airport – Courtesy Shuttle to Resort
  • 5 star boutique resort property (all inclusive packages available)
  • 32 rooms -each with private terraces (soon to be 42 with new rooms completed by March 2012)
  • 6 pools; 1 jacuzzi
  • Full service Spa
  • Full service Restaurant & Bar
  • In-house Tour Guide Service
  • Shuttle
  • Complimentary WiFi
  • Complimentary Use of Mountain Bikes with all premium packages

Room Amenities:

  • Private Bathroom
  • Private Terrace
  • Digital Safe
  • Mini-Fridge
  • Plush Bath Robes
  • Custom Bath Products
  • Hairdryer
  • Telephone
  • Desk
  • Sitting Area
  • Complimentary Mineral Water
  • Complimentary Buffet Breakfast
  • Access to Spa – Steam Room, Sauna & Jacuzzi

Top Pick Excursions/Expeditions:

  • The Tatio Geysers – depart at dawn for the high country (elevation: 14,000 ft) to see Chile’s famous geysers. Absolutely Amazing Scenery – towering steam fields, thermal pools, hot rivers, colorful rock formations and incredible flora and fauna. Be sure to bring a warm coat, gloves and a hat…temps drop to near 20 degrees Fahrenheit or below on most mornings.
  • Sunset at Moon Valley – a visit to Chile’s most famous national park. The incredible lunar landscape is the perfect setting for an unforgettable sunset that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
  • The Atacama Salt Flats – for another sensational sunset, journey to the second largest salt flat area in the Americas and in the world. Located 35 miles from San Pedro, the rugged white Atacama Salt Flats area covers approximately 1,864 square miles and is completely surrounded by volcanic mountains. In fact, Chile’s most active volcano, Lascar, is in close range. The rare wild flamingos and other native birds which frequent the nearby lagoons (Laguna de Chaxa) make this a popular excursion for bird watching enthusiasts and photographers.

Room Rates: Seasonal

Bed & Breakfast Plan Rate per Night: *USD $199 to $221

Half Board Plan (lunch or dinner) Rate per Night: *USD $239 to $261

*rates are per person based on double occupancy

Premium Packages Available – full board including airport transfers, wine and beer with meals, snacks, access to spa facilities and resort amenities as well as daily guided excursions (3-6 night plans).

Package pricing for a 3-night stay: USD $645 – $705 per person (based on double occupancy).

Divas be sure to check out the “Women Way Up High“” promo package for special savings.

4 Days & 3 Nights – ALL-INCLUSIVE (minimum 8 participants)

  • Airport transfers to/from resort
  • Accommodations – 3 nights in valley-facing terraced room
  • Welcome drink, lunch and dinner (wine included)
  • Buffet breakfast
  • Excursions -focused on local culture, lifestyle and history
  • Spa promotions featuring ancient Andean inspired massage treatments
  • Full resort access & daily programmed activities

Contact the Alto Atacama Lodge directly for special group rates.

For more information, rates and current promotions, visit the Alto Atacama Desert Lodge and Spa website.

And, for all your Chile vacation planning needs, contact the region’s top tour operator – Santiago Adventures.

One thought on “Resort Review: Chile’s Altiplano Oasis – Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa

  1. Thanks for this great article about the Chilean Desert, it was a masterpiece. The pictures are all awesome! Your concluding paragraphs re-emphasizing the spiritual aspects was a beautiful way to end the story.

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