|Terrace at the Tierra Atacama Hotel|
Destination: Atacama Desert, Chile
When we visited: March 2009 (which, in the southern hemisphere, is late summer/early fall)
|A desert hike|
Why to go:
The Atacama Desert was the best adventure trip our family has ever taken. Every day was completely different from the last, and we had a real sense of exploring the unknown.
|El Tatio geysers|
What to see:
We stayed in the Atacama desert for four nights, and barely scratched the surface of available activities. We relaxed in hot springs; we hiked through a moonscape; we watched the sun set over salt flats. One morning we woke early to drive into the mountains and see an active geyser (at an elevation of 4200 metres above sea level). Two of us went horseback riding while the other two hiked a river bed. We swam in a salt lake and visited two tiny nearby villages (Tokonao and Machuca).
If we’d had longer, we might have biked Devil’s Glen, climbed the Toco volcano, seen local petroglyphs or gone bird watching.
|Atacama salt flats|
Where to stay:
We were fortunate to stay at the wonderful Tierra Atacama Hotel right after it opened, when they were offering special introductory rates. If we were to go again, it would definitely be a splurge, but I’d think seriously about it. This lovely hotel, simply decorated in a Chilean style, offered volcano views through the picture window at the end of our room. Several evenings we relaxed by a firepit on the terrace before entering the dining room for dinner.
Where to eat:
Meals at the hotel were included in our rate, and they were unbelievable. Food was fresh, local and flavorful. Much of it was grown in Tierra Atacama’s own gardens. And the sensational fruit, and fruit desserts, were among the best I’ve ever eaten.