San Pedro de Atacama, Northern Chile
At a Glance
Just outside the high altitude Chilean village of San Pedro, stands Explora Atacama, designed by the architect Jose Cruz. An Ideal base from which to explore the desert and salt plains.
For those horse lovers, there are stables on site so guests can enjoy a ride right on your doorstep.
Be sure to visit the hotel’s private observatory and marvel over the spectacular stars above on a clear night.
Superb facilities and plenty of pampering. Saunas, steam baths and heated open-air Jacuzzis
Explora Atacama guests have exclusive access to the nearby Puritama hot springs so make sure you factor that into your daily activities!
Best time to Visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
Day time temperatures are luminous and agreeable all year round. A characteristic of the desert climate is the marked fluctuation in temperature between day and night. In winter (June, July and August) the average temperature is 22ºC during the day and at night it goes down to around 4ºC; temperatures can occasionally go below freezing. In summer (December to February) the temperature varies between 28ºC during the day and 16ºC at night. During these months the temperature can reach 32ºC. January-March can sometimes receive a little rainfall and cloudy skies.
On February 2, the biggest festival in San Pedro, Festival de la Candelaria, features a large parade of bands and dancers.
To start planning your holiday to Explora Atacama
Explora Atacama offers an unrivalled level of comfort, service, excursions and facilities in Chile's dramatic Atacama desert, surrounded by towering volcanoes, snow capped peaks, geysers, pre-Inca fortresses and shimmering salt lakes.
Explora Atacama is the sister hotel of the fabulous and extremely successful Explora Patagonia in the Torres del Paine National Park in southern Chile. Located on a plain known as the Ayllu de Larache, once inhabited by the ancient Atacameño community, in the driest desert on the earth, the hotel faithfully carries forward the same Explora concept of comfort and adventure in a unique landscape.
The 50 well-appointed guest rooms at the Explora Atacama have Jacuzzis, custom designed furnishings and breathtaking views of the mountains, desert and volcanoes. There's not a television in sight - but who needs one with surroundings like this? There is an extensive patio area with four interconnecting pools, saunas, steam baths, open-air Jacuzzis and a bar. Delicious meals are served in the elegant hotel restaurant, accompanied by fine Chilean wines.
Everything is included during your stay at the Explora Atacama and with numerous guided tours and activities to choose from including visits to the salt flats, geysers and hot springs, you will never be short of things to do. The hotel also boasts it own astrological observatory where you can look at the universe in striking detail in the consistently cloudless, moonlit sky.
Explora Atacama has a total of 50 guest rooms comprising 27 Yali rooms measuring 33 sq m, with views of the surrounding countryside, 19 Tulur rooms of the same size with views of the Cordillera de la Sal, and four Catur Suites measuring 50 sq m, with balconies and stunning views of the desert landscape. The rooms and suites all feature a small living area, hydromassage bath and wonderfully comfortable beds. There are no televisions in the rooms.
Children are welcomed at the Explora Atacama. There are three Tulur family rooms (made up of two interconnecting Tulur rooms) and babysitting can easily be arranged on request. It is important to note that small children may not always adapt easily to the high altitude.
The excellent facilities at Explora Atacama include a vast patio area featuring four outdoor swimming pools, saunas, open air Jacuzzis and steam baths, a massage room, observatory, stables with thoroughbred horses, shop, WiFi access in the public area, games room and library. The hotel restaurant serves delicious cuisine, featuring many products native to the region and there is also a barbecue area where guests are often gathered to enjoy spit-roasted lamb and barbecued meat and fish, accompanied by live music and dance.
There is a wide variety of guided excursions on offer for guests at the Explora Atacama including horseback riding, trekking, volcano hikes, mountain biking and excursions to nearby villages and salt lakes. Guests can also visit the Termas de Puritama, located approximately 45 minutes away, where eight pools are fed by hot springs, a wonderful spot to relax and revitalize the soul amidst stunning scenery.
Jules Maury (Staff)
As the original luxury all-inclusive hotel in the area, Explora has set the bar very high in terms of guiding skills and exploration opportunities with several exclusive accesses to parts of the extraordinary surrounding environment. The range of activity options is second to none with their own stables, comfortable vehicles that never take more than eight, and expert in-house trained guides catering to all levels of interest and ability/firness . They also boast an inhouse observatory for stargazing
The accommodation is timeless simple modern elegance , Scandinavian style with open space and plenty of seating with spectacular views at different points in the building. At explora everything is about the landscape and the buildings are carefully designed to take advantage of the large property and its great views. There is some upgrading planned to the massage rooms ( there is no spa here) and eventually to the rooms, which could benefit from modernisation of the bathrooms .
The restaurant offers several choices at each meal( including wine choices) but no ala carte service as such. Food is delicious, wholesome and with a focus on locally sourced fresh ingredients.
Katie Aston (Staff)
My last visit to Explora Atacama was 12 years ago when it had recently opened, and despite increasing in size with additional guest rooms, the impact of the hotel was as impressive as before. The dramatically designed main lodge has a Scandinavian feel with whitewashed walls, pale wood and iconic furniture. Rooms which are in Andalucian-style courtyards are on the smaller side but light and chic. The focus at Explora are the experiences that if offers guests around the surrounding Atacama desert and with 50 on offer, the exceptional guides ensure that guests choose the ones that suit them best. For horseback riders or those wanting to learn to ride, the hotel's stables with beautiful horses are a huge attraction. There are top quality mountain bikes for guided or self-exploration. The incredible pool area, with four lap pools is serene and peaceful immersered in the landscape and the cute Turi Spa, created from an old dwelling is popular after a day exploring.
Hip, young explorers will feel perfectly at ease in the casual REI meets upscale IKEA environs of explora. Recently renovated, the new and improved public spaces of this decade-old property convey a sleek, user-friendly self that is design mag-worthy, yet comfortable. Minimalist spaces in the main building sprawl, with clean blonde wood floors, chic deco chairs, and sexy, low-slung coffee tables.
On the first night at Hotel de Larache, guests get an orientation in the Exploration Office. Excursions are determined on a day-by-day basis, mapped with a Dry Erase marker on a glass-topped map table. They are encouraged to check the daily updated chalkboard of available excursions posted in the lobby. Explora was the first local pioneer in excursions and has set the standard with its travesias and “get out of the hotel” philosophy. Seventeen guides—most of who house together on property, a true testament to their passion—offer more than 50 different adventures.
The equipment area is outfitted with the latest gear and guest lockers, while nearby, large bottles of water hang from the wall for easy water bottle refills. Explora also offers an equestrian program that is bar none in area. And for stargazing enthusiasts, they boast the largest privately owned telescope in San Pedro de Atacama for a fascinating, not-to-miss activity.
Fifty rooms flank the 42-acre property, lined up side-by-side in an almost stable-like formation. Standard rooms are a bit too casual to truly define five-star luxury. Instead they conjure up swanky grown-up camp accommodations with slate floors, white washed adobe walls, wooden beams ceilings with skylights, and a wall of windows boasting Andes Mountain views. Bright yellow hues and blue tones (said to ward off evil spirits), and bold plaid bedspreads add to the homespun feeling.
Instead, if you are seeking luxury accommodations, the four recently added suites are more likely to please. Far superior in style, these airy rooms afford about 50% more space. Suite Catur 4 is highly recommended.
Although there are romantic enclaves to be found on site if you seek them—especially at any one of the four pools or hot tubs—this is not a property for those wishing for a lot of privacy. The dining room is a prime example of this lack of intimacy. Large and stylish, it feels more like a chic cafeteria than a destination for haute cuisine. The kitchen’s delicious food more than makes up for this detail. At breakfast, quinoa with apples and cherimoya juice provided the perfect tasty fuel for a day of physical exertion. At night, soups, salads, and fish dishes shine. Service swings from professional and polished to simply passable at times, but doesn’t distract from the lively atmosphere.
Hotel guests tend to be friendly, outgoing, and quick to converse, especially during sunset over a nice cold Cusqueña at the lovely, backlit, horseshoe shaped bar. Others swap travel stories over the extensive library of travel magazines, photo books, and related travelogues. The amount and variety of reading material offered is an absolute treat. It’s common to see people uploading photos on their laptops or blogging about their day in the lobby: it’s the only place on property with (complimentary) Wi-Fi. Two public computers are also available near the small, but carefully stocked gift shop.
In comparison to other local hotels, Explora cannot stake claim as the most luxurious property in San Pedro de Atacama, but for outdoor adventurers who care more about the guided activities, it cannot be beat. Service, accommodations and amenities are all well-intentioned and for travelers who like a highly interactive, social experience, packed with plenty of physical exertion, this is the spot to explore.
Atacama ATV Lake Safari
Drive across the vast lunar Atacama desert on ATVs for an exhilarating adventure! Explore the driest desert on Earth and reach stunning lagoons where you can hop in for a refreshing swim, before crossing back over beautiful sand dunes and riverbeds.
Bike rides in the Atacama
Choose from 5 different bike trails, with varying difficulties to see more of the breath taking landscape on wheels. There are options for more advanced mountain bikers and also options for families.
Explore the beauty of the cornices of the Cordillera de la Sal with breathtaking views of the Oasis.
Cycle through Salar de Atacama
Explore the Salar de Atacama area on bike and cool off in the Sejas and Agua Piedra lagoons, relaxing in the salty water and enjoying the picturesque views.
Explore the traditional village of Caspana in this day tour including lunch. You will be driven across the altiplano towards Caspana passing by the striking Geysers del Tatio.
Hot Air Ballooning Atacama
Spend a morning hot air ballooning over the Atacama Desert. Glide above the moon-like desert, the explosive Tatio Geysers and the sleepy San Pedro de Atacama.
Half day excursion to the Moon Valley.
Salar de Atacama Trip
Explore the town of Toconao, followed by bird watching in the 'Reserva Nacional los Flamencos'.
Stargazing in the Atacama
The pristine skies of Atacama Desert are a stargazer’s paradise. The altitude and bone-dry atmosphere make them incredibly clear, and you can see the planets, stars and galaxies up close with philosopher-cum-astronomer Alain Maury.
Tatio to Puritama
A 5 hour tour taking you from Geisers del Tatio to Machua, then exploration and swimming in the Puritama Hot Springs.
Toconao & Salar de Atacama
Head into the Atacama Desert to visit the atmospheric village of Toconao, before continuing to the great Salar de Atacama, a huge saltpan where flamingos and many bird species feed against a majestic backdrop of the high Andes.
Trail in Guatín
Starting in Guatín you can hike down a trail to Puritama, taking in all the spectacular landscape along the way.
Trekking in Kamur
Half day walking tour towards the Valle de la Luna.
Santiago, Torres del Paine National Park, Lake District and the Atacama Desert
from £4400 pp inc flights & transfers for 13 nights
- This exciting itinerary offers outdoor activities galore and will open your eyes to Chile's extraordinarily varying landscapes and phenomenal natural wonders.
- From the soaring mountains and remote wilderness in Patagonia to the dazzling salt-flats and coloured lagoons in the Atacama Desert, there is a wealth of jaw-dropping scenery to explore.
- Experience an array of contrasts and meet like-minded travellers, whilst staying in some of the country’s more unique and comfortable properties.
Atacama, Santiago, Lake District, Torres del Paine and Winelands
from £9900 pp inc flights & transfers for 13 nights
- An outdoors enthusiast's paradise, with excellent hiking and horse riding available throughout
- Contrast the arid Atacama desert with the lakes and mountains of the Torres del Paine
- Mix in some time soaking up the culture and colonial architecture in Santiago and the verdant landscapes of the wine country
Location & directions
San Pedro de Atacama, Northern Chile
Explora Atacama is on the outskirts of San Pedro de Atacama in northern Chile, 1-hour drive from Calama.
How to get there
14-hour flight from London to Santiago, followed by a 2-hour domestic flight to Calama and 1-hour car transfer to San Pedro de Atacama.
- 100% financial protection
- 24/7 emergency assistance
- Firsthand knowledge
- Renowned service
- Award-winning tour operator