Between the Pacific Ocean and the Cordillera de Los Andes, Atacama is an immense extension of land and mystery. Desert and oasis have moments of repose and change for pre-Colombian Andean Cultures of the South of America. In Atacama it is possible to appreciate multiple features of this history, expressed in archaeoligical monuments, cemeteries, churches and villages. Its traditions still live in religious festivities, in its crafts and in the local folklore.
Built on the Ayllu de Larache in San Pedro de Atacama, the Explora Hotel develops along a main building and three patios. Rooms are lined up with corridors opening to the patio.
Explora en Atacama had designed a complete program of explorations aiming at experiencing the desert and its cultures.
Guests can choose every day from 8 to 10 different alternatives, classified according to duration and difficulty. Explorations are designed for people who need no special training nor specific abilities (except for the peaks). Guests can bike or hike, travel in a van or on horseback.
Every evening, Explora’s bilingual guides meet at the lobby of the hotel to talk and discuss next day’s activities. They are all experts and lovers of the places they offer as exploration sites.
Room Type & Highlights
Departure by van on the road towards Calama. Trekking through Kari Ravine, a small canyon formed by water erosion and bordered by enormous salt walls. Return to the hotel by van.
Departure by van towards Catarpe Valley. Trekking along the cornises of the Cordillera de La Sal, with panoramic views of the oasis, the Salar de Atacama, and the Andes, ending at the dunes of Valle de La Muerte. Return to hotel by van.
Guatin – Punta Del Inca (Easy)
Departure from Explora by van taking the road towards the Guatin settlement and the confluence of the Puritama and Purifica rivers. Most of the hike is through a garden of Cardon and Opunsias. The hike follows the river through a canyon, crisscrossing it several times and eventually climbing down two dry waterfalls. Finally walking out of the canyon we enjoy splendid panoramic views of Atacama. Return to the hotel by van.
Departure from Explora by van towards the Valle de La Luna. From there, the trekking allows travellers to appreciate the variations of sunlight and the spectacular landscapes of the Cordillera de La Sal. Return to the hotel by van.
Cuchabrache Heights (Easy)
Departure from Explora by van towards the source of the San Pedro River. We walk uphill to the summit plateau where there are spectacular views of the green valley of Catarpe/Cuchabrache contrasted by a view of the dry salt range and volcanoes in the distance. Great opportunity to experience panoramic vistas and enjoy the silence of this less travelled hike. Return to the hotel by van.
Yerba Buena – Rio Grande (Easy)
Departure from Explora on the road to Calama, taking a detour to visit the Yerba Buena Petroglyphs. Next, we continue on until reaching the small town of Rio Grande, one of the prettiest in Atacama, where we stroll through the streets exploring the authentic place. Return by van to the hotel.
Laguna Chaxa (Easy)
Departure from Explora by van towards the town of Toconao, located 38km south from San Pedro de Atacama. From there, we make our way towards the Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos to the Laguna Chaxa where the Salar de Atacama is located, and bird watching is amazing. Here we wait for dawn to arrive in order to head back to the hotel.
Tatio – Puritama (Easy)
Departure from Explora at 5:30am by van towards the Geysers del Tatio, passing through the town of Machuca. Explore the geothermic fields before returning to the van to drive to the Puritama Thermal Springs. You will have the opportunity to swim in warm pools and eat a light appetizer. Return to the hotel by van for lunch.
Guatin – Puritama (Moderate)
Departure from Explora by van to Guatin. The trek begins climbing up and down, gaining a total of 270m along the way to Puritama located 3500m above sea level. We begin walking eastward above a ravine for approximately 45 minutes, surrounded by ancient cacti. The trek descends down the ravine through pre-puna vegetation until reaching the bottom where we find some ancient settlements and a river. The terrain is rocky at times. Arrive at the Puritama Thermal Baths for a chance to enjoy the warm pools and a light snack. Return to hotel by van.
Quebrada Del Diablo (Moderate)
Departure from Explora by van towards Vilama. Intense ascent until reaching the Vilama lookout point with a view of the volcanoes. A trek along the Cordillera de La Sal on descent towards the Quebrada del Diablo, where the high walls of clay and gypsum surround us during the final 45 minutes of the trek. Return to Explora by van.
Salar De Tara (Easy)
Departure from Explora by van towards the eastern altiplano area, passing between Licancubur and Cerro Toco. The road hugs the Bolivian border and passes by the Quipiaco Lagoon at 4600m above sea level before descending toward the Monjes de la Apacana. Drive off road across the altiplano, before reaching cathedral-like rock formations and the salt flat; habitat to atliplanic fauna and located approximately 4200m above sea level. We take a short walk before enjoying a picnic lunch. Return to hotel by van.
Salar Del Altiplano (Easy)
Departure from Explora by van towards the southern part of the altiplano, which includes the salt flat of the Miscanti Minique Lagoon, Agua Calientes, and Tuyayito Lagoon, located over 3960m above sea level. There we take a short walk followed by a buffet lunch at the Salar de Aguas Calientes. During the van ride back to the hotel we will pass directly through the altiplano observing flora and fauna.
Rio Grande (Moderate)
Deaprture from Epxlora by van towards the picturesque village of Machuca. Downhill trekking on a slope along the river bed. Picnic lunch at Penaliri. A trail along the edges of the cropped terraces of the Rio Grande Village. Return by van.
Tulan – Tilomonte (Moderate)
Departure from Explora by van crossing the Salar de Atacama to reach the town of Peine. Next we continue by van for approximately 25 minutes until reaching the ancient indigenous settlement named Tulan, where we continue on foot until reaching the village named Tilomonte. Lunch in the town, return by van.
Quebrada De Nacimiento (Moderate)
Departure by van south towards Socaire. Ascend height with views of the volcanoes up to the entrance of the ravine, Quebrada de Nacimiento. Picnic lunch. Descent along old shepherd’s trail following the river and surrounded by magnificent rock walls. Return by van.
Half-Day (Very Easy) – Atacama Culture
Departure from Explora by van to Museo Padre Le Paige. This is a good introductory approach to this area. Then departure by van towards Pucara de Quitor. Trekking with an optional climbing to the Pucara’s Summit. By van we visit Ayllu de Solor with a chance to observe how the Atacama people live today.
Full-Day (Very Easy) – Caspana – Chiu Chiu
Departure from Explora by van crossing the Altiplano towards the picturesque village of Caspana passing by the Geisers del Tatio. Trek across the Caspana farmlands, lunch at the village. The trip continues with the visit to the ancient Lasana Pukara, the Chiu Chiu church and finally towards the airport of Calama.
HIGH MOUNTAIN CLIMBING – HALF-DAY
Cerro Toco (Moderate)
Departure from Explora by van. We begin the ascent at an old sulfur plant and Atacama Cosmology Telescope at 5300m. We climb along a steep, but well marked path for 1-2 hours. Toco is an ideal introduction to high mountain climbing and offers panoramic views of Chile, Bolivia and the surrounding volcanoes.
HIGH MOUNTAIN CLIMBING – FULL-DAY
Volcan Saciel (Moderate to Demanding)
Depart from Explora by van to arrive at a sulfur mine located between Bolivia and Chile and on the folds of the Sairecabur Volcano. Begin ascent on a steep, unmarked rocky trail. One will find much more wind on this ascent compared to the Cerro Toco. After 2 hours trekking arrive at the edge of the Saciel Crater and the summit with a spectacular view of inside the crater.
Cerro Corona (Moderate to Demanding)
Departure from Explora by van towards Talabre. The ascent begins by trekking across volcanic rocks and boulders lasting between 2.5-4 hours depending on snow conditions. On the summit we enjoy amazing views of the entire volcanic arc of the Andes, including Lascar Volcano. We descend through numerous volcanic rock fields for 2-2.5 hours.
Volcan Sairecabur (Demanding)
Departure from Explora by van heading north towards Azufrera Sasiel, where we will tour an old mine. Our drive continues as we curve our way up to the Sairecabur Caldera. Here we begin our ascent across loose rocks, stones, and boulders. We cross through an old abandoned sulfur mine before the final steep ascent.
Volcan Lascar (Moderate to Demanding)
Departure from Explora by van to Laguna Lejia where climbing begins and from where it should take us between 2.5 and 4 hours across rock and volcanic ash. Arrival at the crater allows the appreciation of its activity. It is possible to continue up to the summit – climbing down is by rope howling for 1.5 hours.
BIKING – HALF-DAY
Piedra De La Coca (Moderate to Demanding)
Departure from Explora Atacama by bicycle towards the Catarpe Valley. We take a detour on an old dirt road that goes up toward the Cordillera de La Sal. We pedal through an historic tunnel before starting a zig-zagging descent through dry river beds, which eventually leads us to Piedra de la Coca – an area with Petroglyphs. We continue down through the Llan de Paciencia riding along more dried river beds and stoney off-road terrain. The exploration ends when we meet the van waiting for us on the road to San Pedro. Return to hotel by van.
Circuito De Los Valles (Moderate)
Departure from Explora by van along the road that connects San Pedro to Calama. We start from the Llano de la Paciencia towards the Moon Valley on packed gravel roads. The scenery is mesmerizing and the terrain is not technical, although there are several climbs and descents.
Laguna Cejar (Easy)
Departure from Explora by bicycle towards the south. We cross the ayllus until we reach the entrance to the Salar de Atacama area, where we can observe vegetation specially adapted to the salty ground. The trail is flat and easy, full of areas dusted with chusca. Finally we reach a set of lakes where the Cejar Lagoon is located, and we have the opportunity to float in its salty water. Return to hotel by van.
BIKING – FULL-DAY
Putana to Guatin Descent (Demanding)
Departure from Explora by van to Altos de Putana. Descent by bicycle along an unpaved road with descents and ascents along the gorge, until reaching the picturesque town of Machuca. The trip continues with a view of the Salar de Atacama and overlooking the settlement of Guatin. Return to Explora by van.
Departure from Explora on horseback towards the Ayllus de Larache, Yaye and Sequitor. Staying close to the perimeter of San Pedro, we see the Rio San Pedro, where you can see diverse vegetation and local agrarian fields. Excellent introduction to riding in this area.
Departure from Explora on horseback to the southern ayllus of Tulor and Beter. We walk around the oasis and the desert, and then gallop through the dunes and nearby Beter’s ruins.
Valle De Quitor (Easy)
Departure from Explora on horseback. Ride through the norther part of the oasis to a viewing place of the Pukara de Quitor, Rio San Pedro and the surrounding farmlands. Pass the nearby Cordiller de la Sal during the return trip to the hotel.
Departure from Explora into the Valley of Quitor and Catarpe surrounded by the Cordillera de la Sal. This exploration includes a visit to the Catarpe Church and a spectacular view of the Andes Mountains. There are descents, ascents, and small river crossings. Return to hotel through the San Pedro Village on horseback.
Quebrada Del Diablo (Moderate)
Departure from Explora on horseback to Quebrada del Diablo. This is a narrow and uneven road, with ascents, descents, leaps and curves which requires trotting and cantering. We have great views of Cordillera de los Andes, the Salar (salt flat), and the oasis during the return to the village of San Pedro.
Las Cornisas (Moderate)
Departure from Explora on horseback towards Valle De Catarpe. We trot and gallop before climbing the cornices of Cordillera de la Sal, where we can enjoy panoramic views. We return by descending the dunes towards Valle de la Muerte.
Dunas de la Chula (Moderate)
Departure from Explora on horseback to Cordillera de la Sal. On the way we are surrounded by panoramic views of the ayllus, the salt lake, and the Andes Mountains. The trail follows along dunes and rock formations.
- Transfers from/to Calama airport. Time of the transfer is subject to availability.
- Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (includes soft drink and coffee), bar.
- Daily excursions from a menu.