Discover the Atacama Desert
Over the course of your days spent at Explora Atacama you will have over 40 explorations to choose from. Immerse yourself in the natural and cultural wealth of the Atacama Desert on foot, bicycle or horseback. The hikes, horseback rides, bicycle rides, high-mountain ascents and stargazing sessions are the quintessential way to explore and discover the landscapes, people and wildlife of this unique territory. Every evening your guides meet with you at the lodge bar or living room area to explain all of the next day’s available explorations and help you choose the best option according to your interests and abilities. The maximum group size is 8 travelers, and a bilingual Explora guide leads every exploration. These explorations are off the beaten path and completely unique – you will not witness other travelers experiencing the region or immersing with nature like Explora Atacama does. Below is a sample of how you might spend your days with some top recommended activities. Hikes range from easy to expert high-mountain ascents with elevations of nearly 18,000 feet.
Featured Atacama Hiking Explorations
Salar del Atacama
This easy, half-day, 1.2-mile hike takes about one hour with a maximum altitude of 8,000 feet. Cruise by van for 35 minutes before entering the town of Toconao to beginu your gentle 45-minute hike through beautiful oasis surrounded by orchards. Then head towards the Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos to Laguna Chaxa, where the Salar de Atacama is located, an ideal spot for bird watching (depending on the season). Here, wait until sunset and head back to the lodge.
This is easy, half-day, 2.5-mile hike takes about 2-2.5 hours. Depart by van towards the Catarpe Valley where you will begin trekking along the cornices of the Cordillera de la Sal, with panoramic views of the Oasis, the Salar de Atacama and the Andes. The hike ends with the majestic dunes of Valle de La Muerte.
Quebrada de Nacimiento
This moderate, full-day, 7.2-mile hike takes about 6 hours. Drive towards Socaire for the entrance of the Quebrada de Nacimiento Ravine with panoramic views of the volcanoes. Enjoy a lovely picnic lunch before descending along old shepherds’ trails that follow the river and are surrounded by magnificent rockwalls.
Ruta de Auga
This full-day, 6-mile hike leads to puritama natural reserve, one of the places where the Andean cat has been living in extinction. The hike ends at the Puritama Hotsprings Reserve.
This advanced, full-day, 6-mile hike takes 4.5 hours. Arrive by van to the Altiplano and the Salar of Atacama. Begin walking toward one of the many salt flats of the Altiplano where you might see flamingos or other small birds in and near the lagoon. After descending, walk along the edge of the salt flatt, hen climb towards the Salar de Aguas Calientes for a spectacular view. Finish your trek with a splendid lunch.
This expert, full-day, 2.4-mile hike takes 9.5 hours and reaches an elevation of 16,931 feet. You need about four nights of acclimatization to attempt this trek. The van drops you off in Talabre where your ascent begins by trekking across volcanic rocks and boulders. Once you reach the summit, enjoy amazing views of the entire volcanic arc of the Andes, including Lascar Volcano. Descend through numerous volcanic rock fields to a much-welcomed lunch in the altiplano. There are very few places in the world that allow you to access elevations above 16,400 feet. It’s an experience of a lifetime.
Featured Atacama Biking Explorations
This easy, half-day, 11-mile biking excursion takes 2.5 hours. Depart south by bicycle, crossing the ayllus to reach the entrance to the Salar de Atacama area, where you can observe vegetation specially adapted to the salty ground. The trail is flat and easy, full of areas dusted with chusca (powdery soil). Finally, reach a set of lakes where the Céjar Lagoon is located and have the opportunity to float in its salty water (bathing suit and flip-flops required; towels provided). Return to your Atacama lodge by van.
Piedra de la Coca
This advanced, half-day bike over 3 hours covers 11 miles. Bicycle from the lodge towards the Catarpe Valley where you will take a detour on an old dirt road that goes up towards the Cordillera de La Sal. Pedal through a historic tunnel before starting a zigzagging descent through dry river beds, which eventually lead to Piedra de la Coca, an area with petroglyphs. Continue down through the Llano de Paciencia riding along more dried river beds and stony off-road terrain. The exploration ends with the van and drinks awaiting you on the road to San Pedro. This trip can be extended for 12.4 miles to add on the Moon Valley Circuit option.
This full-day, challenging mountain bike ride follows the highest route in the altiplano, reaching 14,845 feet. You need about two nights of acclimatization to attempt this bike ride. Depart by van toward the Argentinean border where you cycle at over 13,123 feet, passing through plains and multicolored mountains.
Featured Atacama Horseback Riding Explorations
This easy, 4.8-mile, 2-hour ride is excellent for novice riders. Leave the stables and head towards the Ayllus de Larache, Yaye and Séquitor. Along the way, see diverse vegetation and local agrarian fields along the Río San Pedro.
Dunas de la Chula
This moderate, 12-mile ride takes about 2 hours. Leave on horseback to Cordillera de la Sal. On the way take in the panoramic views of the ayllus, the salt lake and the Andes Mountains. The trail follows along dunes and rock formations.
Velle de la Luna
This 15.6-mile, half-day ride takes about 4 hours. Trot and gallop towards Valle de Catarpe to climb the cornices of Cordillera de la Sal for spectacular panoramic views. Descend through the dunes towards Valle de la Muerte.
This easy, half-day ride visits the ayllus (social and agricultural communities in atacama), a small oasis in the middle of the desert where the local people have their orchards.
breakfast, lunch, dinner