Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa
- Thermal Facilities
- Personal training
- Pool – Indoor
- Pool – Outdoor
Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa is the only lodge in the San Pedro region that is totally enveloped by natural surroundings.
Located in the lush Catarpe Valley of the Salt Mountain Range, just over a mile from the plaza of San Pedro, the Alto Atacama’s design was influenced by local village architecture and conceived to blend seamlessly into its environment.
Environmental sustainability and a strong connection with the local culture have put the Alto Atacama in a category of its own.
Water from glacial snow is what makes San Pedro de Atacama an Oasis, and it makes the Spa a strongly revitalizing experience. Water, expert hands and aromatic scents are the tools for invigorating your body and spirit after a day of exploring the desert.
Spa options include Finnish Sauna, Turkish bath, Scottish showers, indoor & outdoor hot tubs, among others.
- Swimming pool
- Turkish bath
- Finnish sauna
- Experience showers
- Hot tubs
- Treatment rooms
- Relaxation areas
- Natural Local Products
There are 42 spacious guest rooms, all feature private patios, 10 of which are Tilo Suites with outdoor showers.
The colours of the interior are designed to protect eyes which have been exposed to the searing desert sun. Rooms are rustic in style, decorated with local crafts, making you really feel at one with nature.
Caur Restaurant serves healthy, regional and international cuisine, sourcing products locally including fruit and vegetables grown on-site. Daily meals can be ordered a la carte, and there is also a dedicated vegetarian menu.
A bar near the pool section serves fresh juices and handcrafted cocktails.
Facilities and Activities
- Outdoor observatory with a 17.5″ Discovery telescope.
- Swimming pools
- Bilingual daily excursions to explore the Atacama Desert
- Llama and alpaca corral
- Conference center
- Inca bath thermal pools
For the Kids
- Kid-friendly excursions
- Llama and alpaca corral
- Swimming pools
Fly from Santiago to Calama (2 hours), then transfer in a hotel van to the hotel (1 hour).
Situated smack bang in the middle of the Atacama desert in Northern Chile, it would be easy to describe the Alto Atacama hotel as an oasis, as it offers welcome and luxurious respite from what NASA has stated to be one of the most arid climates on the planet. However, on reflection perhaps ‘oasis’ isn’t quite the right word; as it conjures up images of lush, opulent green that is almost disrespectfully conspicuous amongst a sea of sand. Instead, the Alto Atacama is barely noticeable amidst the red and brown backdrop, and is hard to distinguish which was crafted by man and which by nature.
Furthermore, the parts that have been sculpted by hands rather than the elements, echo with ancestral notes; embracing the indigenous culture, history and wider way of life. In fact, the hotel’s construction was only agreed upon, after extensive discussions with the local elders and only under the proviso that it carefully manage the region’s most precious commodity; water. Don’t be mistaken into thinking that this level of sustainability makes for a unpolished experience. Quite the opposite, the Alto Atacama offers all the creature comforts you would expect from a world class hotel and spa. Perhaps ‘mirage’ would be a more appropriate word to describe this place – it’s an optical phenomenon, especially in the desert or at sea.
Yes, seeing is believing at Alto and phenomenon is a truly fitting description. As soon as you arrive, the staff encourage you to explore, to get out and discover the desert’s moon-like landscapes, hit the road less travelled, get off the beaten track on foot, by bike or with guides. There are numerous trails and excursions to hit, including dawn visits to the geysers, hot springs and volcano climbs. And after mountain biking the Inca pass and trekking through the Valley of the Moon, you’ll be gagging for an appointment at PURI spa, to dust off the desert and soak your sand filled boots.
Given that NASA has already handed the Atacama desert the title of the driest of all deserts, it’s safe to say that the hotels six swimming pools are a welcome sight. The Puri Spa is hidden amongst the pools by stone walls made from the surrounding stunning Catarpe Valley of the Salt Mountain Range.
Water is a rarity and here the source is from glacial snow, making the Turkish bath, Finnish sauna, Scottish showers, indoor & outdoor hot tubs that bit more special. All water is taken from a well beneath and later recycled so sustainability is the name of the game here.
The Massage Sabay is an indescribable experience – an holistic dream using an ancient massage technique with “pindas” or pouches filled with herbs, seeds, grains and essential oils that are preheated and applied to the body with different pressures and movements. I guess the nearest treatment I’ve had to this would be a hot stone massage, but Sabay is much, much better!
The heat, herbs and oil from the pouches are kneaded in to your muscles – you can really feel them working the tension away – and it’s super relaxing. Literally one of the best treatments I’ve ever experienced, I left feeling completely de-stressed, tension free and my body just felt a lot ‘looser’ from head to toe.
Hindu Head Massage – The cranium is where ideas are born – where your relationship with the world takes shape. This ancient massage is an excellent way to relax your mind. A few minutes of localised massage on the head, neck and shoulders are enough for you to sink into a state of peace and relaxation, and leave worries behind.
The Altiplanic Mud Wrap: Inspired by the local mythology that man evolved from clay, this treatment incorporates locally sourced mud from the high altiplano, in combination with honey and mineral water, to achieve a deep and natural exfoliation.
Whichever of the low-laying 42 suites you are assigned, it’s certain you will enjoy a deep serene sleep here. The colours of the interior were designed to protect eyes which have been exposed to the searing desert sun. Windows are covered with beautiful natural fibres in keeping with the flow of the hotel, to completely block out all light. The rooms are rustic, decorated with local crafts for decor, making you really feel at one with nature.
No TVs ensure you enjoy every moment of the blissful silence the desert offers, and once the harsh sun descends over the Martian landscape, the first glimmers of the night sky begin to appear. By the time darkness has completely fallen it is easy to understand why so many astronomy fanatics make their pilgrimage to perhaps the most clear window into the universe on offer. Be prepared to sit on your private patio and have your breath taken by planets, constellations, satellites, meteorites, galaxies, nebulae and much much, more.
If quinoa isn’t your thing, fear not as the food here is exquisite. And once again Alto aim to give back to the local economy as they insist on working closely with local producers, so the food is guaranteed to be fresh and organic. You can even spot some of the produce used during one of your hikes such as locally grown Socaire potatoes.
Sample a native Pisco Sour or one of the incredible Chilean wines on offer, by the poolside fire pit, before feasting on dishes like grouper fish with creamy merkén chilli, quinoa croquettes and octopus, ostrich carpaccio with emulsified lemon dressing, or a typical Andean stew.Be sure to finish off with homemade desert-herb-infused ice cream.
Facilities and Activities
Whether you seek adventure, cultural heritage, gastronomy or astronomical enlightenment, Alto Atacama has over 30 different tours and excursions to choose from. You can connect with the landscape, through carefully devised walks, hikes, and biking routes, to the people, via cultural and heritage tours created with the native population, or to the night sky and Solar system, with the help of the open air observatory.
One of the ‘must do’ excursions at Alto is The High Andean Village tour: The first stop is Pachuca – known locally as the ancient village of shepherds, Machuca offers an insight into traditional farming techniques. Putana Vado, known for inhabiting a variety of native flora, fauna and birdlife species is the next stop, followed by Caspana, another typical village of the Altiplano though noted for its representative architecture and strong cultural identity.
After lunch at a local restaurant in Caspana, the journey continues to Chiu-Chiu, a former trading hub of the region. Chiu-Chiu’s streets are best explored on foot, visiting the central church along the way. Finally, this exploration ends in the village of Lasan, stopping at the lagoon of Inka Coya en route. The perfect way to take in the incredible local history, nature, culture and surroundings.
For the more adventurous tourist, the hotel offers maps, cycles and helmets to venture out and enjoy/endure the local biking trails through the Devil’s Gorge. It goes without saying to take plenty of water and sunscreen, but the rewards are worth the exertion as the trail is replete with hidden treasures.
There are nightly stargazing sessions hosted on the hotel’s Moon Deck and with a powerful telescope to further enhance your appreciation for the view that at last count was 13 billion years in the making.