[ATACAMA DESERT, CHILE] — The two Chilean sister hotels of Tierra Hotels are one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life. They’re expensive, but worth every penny. Everything is included: room, breakfast, lunch, dinner, booze, and the best part — guides. When you had it all up, and being in one of the most remote and foreboding places on the planet, it actually is a great value…an experience that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

Set just the right amount outside of the little desert oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama, the Tierra nestles nicely into the surrounding desert landscape. Everything is done just right. When you arrive, they immediately give you a glass of wine and sit you down in front of a large map, laying out the adventures ahead. They ask what your interests are, then offer up an long menu of cool things you can do. Matching the adventure with what you want to do, or not do. The guides are the best part. They know the land and know their stuff. All are professional, not just desert ski bums. Many have degrees or studies related to the area. They don’t just take you and show you stuff, they take you somewhere unbelievable and tell you all about it. The history. The geology. And make it totally interesting.

I typically prefer to figure out everything on mine on and then revel in getting lost, but this changed my whole world view. I saw things I never thought I’d be interested in. Discovered things I never knew. And the best part — I didn’t have to figure out a single thing. I can’t imagine doing this area without this ideal setup. The wasted time alone would have killed my whole experience. The places they take you don’t have any road signs, and often you’re the only ones there. Between the two Tierras, by far, the best hotel experiences I’ve ever had.

Everything is based on your desires. Each day you can take either a half- or full-day adventure and then head off with a small group in a great van. And then when you’re there, they tell you all about it….often putting on a spread, enjoying a gourmet breakfast, lunch, or dinner in some of the most stunning landscapes in the world. You can hike, or not hike. Horseback. Or watch the stars. (Definitely signup for the star-gazing!)  Here’s a great article on Tierra Atacama in National Geographic, Vogue, awesome and better pictures in The Road Less Traveled,  Conde Nast Traveler, AFAR Highlights, the SmartFlyer, and even Curbed.

I can’t wait to go back.


Atacama map from space

You can see how dry and big the Atacama is from space. Just a dry little corner of an otherwise green vibrant country.

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San Pedro de Atacama, the cool little oasis town that serves as the main base for all the Atacama, is within walking or bike riding distance. I never wanted the leave the hotel, which is opposite of what I typically like to do. It is that good. And the days’ adventures that fulfilling. The town is loaded with tour guides to take you to the same places we went. I can’t imagine having to piece together your own itinerary, not know ing if one operator is better than the other. I didn’t have to worry about any of that. The Tierra just sets it all up. The best value received I’ve ever had. Worth every penny.

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