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For travellers who love adventure or want to immerse themselves in nature while vacationing, exploring the contrasting landscape of Chile is a must.
As someone who certainly fits the bill for an active traveller, Sydney-based travel advisor Kate Scott was thrilled to recently have the opportunity to explore Chile with Tierra Hotels. With twelve nights to explore, she and her husband roamed from the barren (yet beautiful!) Atacama Desert in the North to the expanses of Patagonia and the glaciers of Torres del Paine National Park in the South. They were sure to make the most of their time, seeing and experiencing everything they possibly could throughout their packed itinerary.
Duration: 14 nights, 15 days
We Love it For: From couples to families with older children, this itinerary is for anyone with a passion for the mountains and the outdoors
Trip Style: Luxury adventure, cultural immersion and active experiences
Agent Notes: There is just something special about getting out into nature that is both humbling and rejuvenating. The perfect way to disconnect and reconnect at the same time.
Where to Stay:
Tierra Hotels runs lodges in three of Chile’s key regions: the Atacama Desert, Chiloe and Patagonia. The properties are boutique, family-run lodges that feel truly inspired by nature. Each of the three lodges offers travelers a truly luxurious stay combined with rare experiences, presenting guests with intimate encounters with parts of the world they may not otherwise get to know. Most importantly, Tierra Hotels allow guests to slow down and truly discover Chile. From the food and beverages to daily activities, the lodges are all-inclusive. No matter which one you find yourself enjoying, you’ll be given the freedom to relax as the friendly staff take care of your every need.
The Atacama Desert is a big draw for adventure-seeking travellers who are looking to explore the lunar landscapes, volcanoes, salt flats and flamingo-filled lakes. Tierra Atacama sits amidst it all and caters to the ‘luxventure’ traveller who is looking to combine activities with a hot shower, lavish meal, comfortable bed and the perfectly mixed pisco sour. The lodge itself is a serene desert oasis, and while it is certainly elegant and charming, it’s still incredibly inviting and eco-friendly with a relaxed vibe. | Book Now
Chiloé is an archipelago towards the south of Chile, making it the perfect resting point between Atacama and Patagonia. With minimalist, contemporary interiors and a sustainable geometric design, Tierra Chiloé is sleek with a modern edge. The lodge is decorated with local handmade textile and wood carvings, making it easy to cozy up if you don’t feel like venturing out. It even comes complete with its own boat, the “Williche,” for navigating the inland waters.
Tierra Patagonia sits nestled into the hillside at the edge of Lake Sarmiento. With award-winning contemporary design that perfectly blends in with the local surroundings, the lodge is almost invisible until you arrive at its front entrance. Once here, you’ll be greeted by Chile’s spectacular Torres Del Paine National Park — truly one of the most spectacular landscapes that you could ever rest your eyes upon — to find a laid-back luxury setting. The entire property is architecturally stunning; the interior is light and airy with large floor-to-ceiling windows across the welcoming communal areas. This main space combines a lounge with a fireplace alongside couches that you can sink into and mingle with like-minded guests. | Book Now
Hiking through the giant cactus in the Atacama Desert as a part of the trek through the Guatin Gatchi Valley (the Valley of the Cactus)
Floating in the salty lagoons, looking out to the volcanoes that are visible on the horizon of the Atacama
Taking on the intense 7-hour trek through Patagonia which leads to the base of the Three Towers in Torres del Pain National Park
Enjoying your morning coffee from your lodge balcony, while taking in the views as the sun rises, colouring the Torres del Pain mountain range the perfect shade of pink
Day One: Arrival + Excursion Planning
Upon arrival at each Tierra hotel, one of their expert guides will sit down with you to get to know your personal interests and activity level to create an excursion plan customized just for you.
After landing at Calama airport, you’ll be met by the Tierra Atacama team and transferred to the lodge (approximately an hour and a half away). The route is sure to reveal the rocky moon-like landscape of the region, complete with volcanoes towering on the horizon. Upon arrival, settle in and get cozy in your inviting suite. When you’re ready to chat about activities offered, you’ll be able to meet with the excursions team.
Tierra Hotels’ mission is to help you get under the skin of Chile with activities led by the most knowledgeable guides. Upon arrival at each Tierra property throughout the itinerary, one of their expert guides will sit down with you to get to know your personal interests and desired activity level to create an excursion plan customized to your liking. From horseback riding, volcano climbing, and hiking to stargazing tours, their extensive menu of activities is one of the things which sets them apart. Cap the night with a Pisco Sour as you watch the sunset over the Licancabur Volcano.
Day Two: Easing into Things…with Two Excursions
After an early morning start (thanks, jetlag!), enjoy your morning coffee and mouth-watering included breakfast. Get ready for the day’s activities! With so many excursions to choose from ranging from hikes to bike rides, consider opting for two half day tours. Exploring Valle de la Luna is a great way to start the trip, as you get the chance to hike through the rugged moon-like landscape through diverse peaks, canyons and rock formations. Return to the lodge to fuel up with a 3-course lunch.
If you want to lounge by the pool for the rest of the day, Tierra Atacama will be your oasis for R&R. Or, head off for more exploration like we did! Our afternoon excursion was all about checking out the Salar de Atacama. Here, you’ll be treated to stunning views that stretch across Chaxa Lagoon, home to a myriad of birdlife including flamingos and Andean gulls. Savor the final moments of daylight with a sundowner and picnic spread across the desert. Take in the changing colours of the landscape as the sun sets and moon rises.
Day Three: Relax
Day Four: Another Jam-Packed Day
The morning hike through Valle de Guatin turned out to be a highlight of the entire trip! Expect to be completely immersed in the landscape as you hike past the flowing river passing giant cactai that are hundreds of years old.
One of the most intense excursions that Tierra Atacama offers is a full-day hike to Lascar Volcano. Due to the altitude of the hike, the excursions team is quite strict about the timing of the hike during your trip as your safety is their number one priority. That being said, to complete this hike, a five-day stay is recommended so that you can properly acclimatize. Alas, we were only there for four days, so we had to skip this one (this time!) and choose an alternative tour.
So, for our third full day in Atacama, we once again chose two half day tours. The morning hike through Valle de Guatin (The Valley of the Cactus) turned out to be a highlight of the entire trip! Expect to be completely immersed in the landscape as you hike past the flowing river passing giant cactai that are hundreds of years old. In the afternoon, you can bike from Tierra Atacama to Cejar Lagoon. The salt concentration is so incredibly high here that you can actually float in the lagoon! It’s a surreal experience as you float effortlessly glancing out to the volcanoes scattered along the horizon.
While we could have easily called it a day there and simply enjoyed the outdoor fire pits and another signature cocktail at the lodge, cwe really wanted to keep the momentum going! We enjoyed a 3-course meal before enjoying an evening excursion at a local observatory for some star gazing. As the Atacama Desert boasts clear, unpolluted skies, you’ll be amazed at this unforgettable stargazing.
Day Five: Off to Chiloé
Separated by water from the stark Atacama in the north and desolate Patagonia in the south, the 12-hour journey from Tierra Atacama is well worth it. Upon arrival, you’re likely just going to want to hit the spa to relax. Then, be sure to meet with the excursions team to set up an excursion plan for your stay. While you could take a slower approach here involving gentle boat rides and slow-paced cultural experiences, there are also no shortage of active excursions to partake in during your stay.
Day Six: Running, Kayaking, Biking, Oh My!
Chiloé is known for its UNESCO churches as well as its myths, legends, unique folklore and culinary traditions
While Chiloé is known for its UNESCO churches as well as its myths, legends, unique folklore and culinary traditions, we were keen to take a more active approach to our exploration of the island. However, if you’re more interested in excursions that will allow you to immerse yourself in the cultural aspects of the archipelago, Tierra can facilitate that too!
Consider starting off the day with a run before breakfast through the green pastures surrounding the hotel. Then, fuel up before your excursion. Kayaking with a local guide is a great way to see some of the local mussel farms, birdlife and the occasional Chilean sea lion. Wrap up your full first day in Chiloé with a self-guided bike ride to some of the nearby villages if you still have a bit more energy to burn through.
Day Seven: Relax
Day Eight: Hike from Duhato
Today is your final full day in this region, so what better way to see it than with a hike? You’ll begin along the coastal cliffs, wade through deep mud, take on some steeper climbs and eventually be surrounded by stunning natural rainforest during this full day trek. Eventually, your hike will culminate on the islet of Aulen where you can take a slower stroll along the beach before boarding a local fishing boat back to the car. Of course, you’ll have to enjoy a local brew a as a reward for your efforts!
You can arrange to say goodbye to this portion of your trip with an evening dinner on the lodge’s boat, “Williche.” The 3-course meal served on the water is a truly unique way to experience the local flavors. All in all, expect to leave Chiloé seeing it as a watery wonderland; a destination that’s a world away from the rest of mainland Chile.
Day Nine: Off to Patagonia!
Today is a travel day. You’ll be best positioned to connect to “the end of the earth” with an overnight in Punta Arenas. But fear not, the stop along the way is well worth it. Bordered by the spectacular Andes Mountains, the Chilean side of Patagonia is a mass of fjords, glaciers and peaks which converge most powerfully in the Torres Del Paine National Park. After having explored the dry and stark Atacama in the north and the lush wetlands of Chiloé in the south, this region’s contrast will be your ideal playground.
Day Ten: Welcome to the End of the Earth
There are half-day escorted treks, horseback rides across the Patagonia steppe and exhilarating full-day mountain hikes for you to choose from during your time here.
Tierra Patagonia lodge sits nestled into the hillside at the edge of Lake Sarmiento. With award-winning contemporary design which blends so flawlessly with the local surroundings, it’s almost invisible until you arrive. But, as soon as you do, expect to be overlooking Chile’s spectacular Torres Del Paine National Park in awe. After you’ve settled in, it’s time for your final excursion consultation with the knowledgeable team on site.
There are half-day escorted treks, horseback rides across the Patagonia steppe and exhilarating full-day mountain hikes for you to choose from during your time here. You are taken to all corners of the National Park as well as less traveled areas nearby the lodge. You can also opt to be guided to the four glaciers in Torres Del Paine as well as meet locals who live and work in this unique corner of the world. So, whether your’e super active or looking for a more mellow way to spend the final portion of your itinerary.
Day Eleven: Hiking in Search of Birdlife
Kick off your Patagonia leg with a half day hike, “Cornices: To the Cliff Edge in Search of Birdlife” which is an off-the-beaten track walk along the edge of an escarpment. Here you’ll have sweeping views of Torres Del Paine where you can stand in awe watching condors take flight and soar overhead. While the hike is fairly gentle, it’s the perfect introduction to the region. As with all Tierra excursions, enjoy passing the day with a lovely group of like-minded travelers. Take the opportunity to share stories from home and your travels.
Day Twelve: Relax
Day Thirteen: Experience Lago del Toro
Today, head off on a lesser known trail, “Paso de Agostini,” for a stunning full day hike where you’ll traverse through the Lenga Forest. Reach a series of lookout points with panoramic views of the lakes and mountains. The final pièce de résistance of the day is a short climb to the largest lake in the area, Lago del Toro, before a sharp descent to the van. Here, a cold Austral Cerveza (the local beer) will be waiting.
Day Fourteen: Take It all In at The Towers
The remoteness and sheer scale help you realize what a humbling experience travel can be.
An iconic route amongst the hiking community, the Base of Three Towers is not well suited for the inexperienced hiker. This eye-opening experience is likely to exceed expectations! While the hike is not technically challenging, a solid level of fitness is required. It’ll be a bit of a long day as there are steep uphill sections to overcome.
As you navigate the ever-changing terrain, from the gentle pace of meandering along the river banks to the steep rocky climb, snow-capped mountains eventually come into sight. Your efforts will be rewarded as you take in the iconic magnificence of the towers from above. Take a moment to sit there and reflect on what you are blessed to be experiencing. The remoteness and sheer scale help you realize what a humbling experience travel can be. There is something about the mountains that offers a clear sense of perspective that allow many of your worries to disappear.
Backtrack your way down the mountain with the group and return to a spread of bites and beer. The Tierra team of guides and drivers are sure to reward you for your efforts! Return to the lodge and pamper yourself at Uma Spa for some final moments of zen.
Day Fifteen: Back Home!
Your memorable trip is finally coming to an end. Board your flight knowing you experienced the true essence of Chile. The only question now is when will you return?