Explora Atacama Lodge

Explora Atacama Lodge is located in the Ayllu de Larache (initially a kin-based community of the ancient Aymara people), near the village of San Pedro de Atacama. It is a hotel built for linking man to temporary space—present and past—and the mysteries of nature. With over 40 different guided hikes, bike and horseback rides, guests are sure to have breathtaking views of the driest desert on earth—Atacama.

Explora Atacama Lodge Review

AdventureSmith Explorations’ Explora Atacama review includes a detailed description and photo gallery. Our adventure travel experts have stayed at Explora Atacama Lodge firsthand and can help compare Explora Atacama with other adventure lodging and Chile land tours.

Choose Explora Atacama Lodge for the finest accommodation and experience available in the Atacama region of Chile, including its world famous equestrian programs and its unique observatory. Explora Atacama’s staff exudes a philosophy of up-close, guided exploration, accessed from upscale accommodations rooted in the region’s culture; this meshes perfectly with the AdventureSmith Explorations style of travel. The lodge is located just outside San Pedro de Atacama, close enough to walk into town but far enough to experience solitude only the desert can provide. Upon entering the spacious main lodge the second thing you notice is the huge guide closet and hydration station where guests and guide prepare for each day’s adventure. Throughout, the airy main lodge bars, lounges and an expansive dining room are punctuated by a guide conference area where guests plan their activities. And an extensive library and educational lecture room stress that the Explora experience is just as important as the accommodations and service. Atacama Lodge is the perfect option if you are seeking an experience in Atacama, Chile, up close and in style.

Geography of Explora Atacama Lodge

Explora Atacama sits 8,202 feet above sea level in Chile’s Atacama Desert, which rises from the Pacific Ocean up to the Altiplano, the foothills of the Andes. Atacama is known as the driest place on Earth. Explora Atacama is located in the Ayllu de Larache (initially a kin-based community of the ancient Aymara people), near the village of San Pedro de Atacama. The 42-acre grounds comprise 20 indigenous parcels, some with timeworn pathways from the original inhabitants.

The oasis is irrigated with the waters of the San Pedro and Vilama rivers, which have their tributaries in the area mountains. To the east, San Pedro is bordered by a volcanic branch of the Andes Mountains. The volcanoes vary in shape and height, rising between 14,764 feet and 19,685 feet above sea level. The most striking are Licancabur, Lascar and Sairecabur. This area encompasses part of the Altiplano, a vast high plateau at the base of the volcanoes, extending into Argentina, Bolivia and Perú.

Towering on the west side of the oasis are the Cordillera Domeyko and Cordillera de la Sal, mountain ranges with an average height of 10,827 feet and 8,366 feet above sea level, respectively. In the latter chain is Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley), an otherworldly terrain fashioned from the wind and water erosion of layers of sediment and vertical salt, gypsum and clay rocks.

Common Areas at Explora Atacama Lodge

The award-winning architecture is thoughtful and representative of the area and local culture. Every detail has been accounted for, and the beauty of the lodge and its amenities will be sure to delight all the senses. Surrounded by foxtail plants and lush native vegetation are four, interconnected, ambient-temperature pools—ideal for relaxing, building back strength and enjoying the deep desert silence after a day of intense exploration. Near the pools are the sauna and steam bath facilities, and open-air Jacuzzis. The massage center is located near the hotel, in a restored Colonial adobe-straw building. An onsite store carries all the items necessary for explorations, along with local artisanal goods and books of the area.

Dining at Explora Atacama Lodge

Meals are artistic and thoughtfully made with only the finest quality ingredients and authentic flavors. Meals will always be matched by a good wine, while a selection of premium wines are also available.

Just a short walk from the hotel is the Quincho, an inviting BBQ area that includes a renovated, old traditional adobe house and its patio. Here, on special occasions, guests may enjoy a traditional spit-roasted lamb, beef and fish, as well as other local dishes—all accompanied by Andean music and song and dance performances by accomplished local artists.

Activities at Explora Atacama Lodge

San Pedro de Atacama and its surrounding areas are one of Chile’s most enigmatic territories. The diversity of the landscape is one of the most popular attractions. Aware of this, travelers explore every corner, either on foot, horseback riding or bike, including high mountain ascents. Over 40 guided explorations expose travelers to the cultural richness of this fascinating territory. 

San Pedro de Atacama boasts some of the world’s clearest skies and is, therefore, one of the best places to practice astronomy. Explora Atacama offers nightly viewings (weather permitting) in its observatory, known as one of the best private Chilean observatories. Its dome houses a potent and advanced optics telescope, the Meade 16” f/10 LX200R Advanced RD, and a main mirror of 40 cm in diameter with extraordinary resolution and sharpness.

Explora Atacama is the only hotel in the area with its own horses, bred and trained especially for Explora’s horse expeditions. The 20 horses of different breeds and crosses have been raised in the Ibáñez family estate in the central valley of Chile. The team is led by an internationally-trained horse expert, who specializes in thei horses’ care and trains for riders of all ages, levels of ability and experience. Beginners can take advantage of special classes that will enable participation in the horseback exploration programs suitable for new riders.

Explora Atacama plays host to the Puritama Hot Springs, whose innovative architecture has gained critical acclaim. Covering approximately 19,770 acres of land, this hot springs area is currently in the process of being declared a nature reserve. Guests can enjoy time in the reserve (less than 45 minutes away) based around certain explorations.

Accommodations at Explora Atacama Lodge

Explora Atacama Lodge rooms are quiet and reflect the natural scenery. Relax in the solitude without the distractions of TV or Wi-Fi.