Atacama Desert

by Alan Riedel, May 2017

In May, I was lucky to join a small group to experience some of Chile’s most amazing eco resorts and natural scenery in the Atacama Desert. As Santiago is the main gateway to Chile and South America for most Australians, we had a few nights of luxury at the Singular Hotel Santiago while we visited the local sites and wineries. It’s a great city to spend a few days, especially for a first time traveller to South America. There are many wonderful neighbourhoods to explore with great cafes and restaurants. But even better is getting out and doing some wine tasting at one the many wineries with in an easy drive from the city. You can also combine a winery with a trip out to the port city of Valparaiso to see some of the famous street art and colourful buildings.

Atacama is a destination that often gets overlooked on most people’s South American itineraries. But this was the highlight of our trip, and now one of my favourite places I’ve visited in South America. Even though we were at the tail end of some unseasonal rain (and snow in the mountains) which closed some of the main attractions of the area. We still had plenty to see and do for the 4 days we were there. Moon Valley, Rainbow Valley and the salt flats with its resident flamingos were some of the most spectacular desert landscape I have ever seen.

And the accommodation was just as impressive. Both the Alto Atacama and Tierra Atacama were faultless. From the staff and guides to the facilities, I would have no trouble recommending both these resorts. They both offer fully inclusive packages with accommodation, meals, drinks and daily excursions. There is no better way to see the sites of the region. The daily excursions can be anything from sightseeing in a van and stopping to take a few photos, to full day hikes, biking or horse riding. Something for everyone.

I am looking forward to visiting the Atacama Desert again, and catching up on everything I was unable to see this time round. A big thank you to Contours who provided the accommodation and services for this trip. It was an unforgettable experience and I’d be more than happy to share my experiences with any interested travellers.