Tierra Atacama, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
by Tamara Albarran, travel writer and photographer
| @cordealbarran | Visit my blog.
Emerging in the middle of the oasis of San Pedro de Atacama in the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile, the austere shape and earthy colours of Tierra Atacama Hotel reflect its bonds with the surrounding lands and the history of the ancient cultures which lived here long ago. Join our travel writer Tamara Albarran in her journey to this imposing landscape of red earth and starry nights, and enjoy the comfort of Tierra Atacama in the middle of the desert.
This unique hotel merges almost seamlessly into the surroundings, keeping with the stark lines of an arid desert, immersed in earthy, warm, sometimes subtle colour notes.
As a tribute to the old ways of living, the architects preserved the old "Bull Corral" where the old cattle caravans crossing the Andes found water, food and shelter. 150-year old adobe walls stand as silent testimonials to the history of San Pedro de Atacama.
Upon entering reception you feel at home and welcome.
The contrast between this cozy feeling and the seemingly desolate surrounding desert makes for a very unique experience.
It's the beginning of the Tierra experience.
Seems like Tierra Atacama staff purpose of existance would be to make you feel comfortable, sheltered and happy, always a smile, a greeting, or their attention if you need something.
The common areas face Mount Licancabur, sacred volcano of the native people of San Pedro, which in turn looks back to the lounge, with its weavings of mythical figures and a fireplace that greets you every evening back from the excursions while you have a drink or appetizer before dinner.
The bar next to the dining room, lined with railroad sleepers, conjures images of freighters loaded with ore headed for the ports in the Pacific in years gone by.
Wood, stone, textiles, fruits and earthy tones mingle with the unobtrusive turquoise skies, earth and sky, two elements in one desert.
Everything is a subtle celebration of History parading before our eyes, leaving us warmed up and joyful.
Out from reception through the windowpanes, the rooms wait for us distributed in two rows separated by a flower garden with pomegranate trees and bushes.
Every room is an invitation to rest, and details like a little lounge with canvas chairs, a second, open-air shower in the privacy of your own interior patio and terraces made to contemplate the grandeur of the northern Andes, round out the experience of a lodging space conceived with the outdoors in mind.
The upper floor rooms, of a minimalist decoration, have views over both East and West, with the exact same comfort and features as the rest of them.
A particular advantage is the option of taking two familiar duplex flats of an upper matrimonial suite bedroom and two lower double-bed rooms that can be split in two if necessary.
Tierra Atacama is not only kind to their guests, but also on Nature, since solar powering and recycling are at the heart of the Tierra concept.
Be it lunch or suppertime, the dishes are presented accompanied by flavours and aromas from two showcasing chilean vineyards, Lapostolle and Matetic, a key ingredient in this altiplanic flight, together with locally-inspired cocktails in which native herbs like Rika rika play an important part.
If resting and eating properly are crucial, so are the activities to engage dhuring your stay.
Experienced and insightful guides not only provide information but also entertain and keep animated conversation, leaving you wanting to know more and go deeper into subjects as the day ends.
Guides who love and know their job, and always with the guest's well-being in mind.
San Pedro de Atacama offers a wide, if not apparent, array of tours, places, wildlife and different activities, and more new, interesting places are always being discovered so things don't get repeated over time.
The well-planned Hotel Spa, where everything has been thought of and each need is catered to in an elegant and caring way, deserves a special mention.
Deep skin care and hydration to counteract the dry desert air and dust, treatments for tired legs after horseback riding, relaxing massages, all aided by cosmetic products from top of the line makers and done by professional therapists and masseuses.
After a spa session, you feel like a new person again, ready to embark on your next day outdoors adventure.
An open-air hot tub where you can take a bath in either goat milk, chocolate or other special treat around a fireplace completes the scene for a thorough pampering and relaxing.
The Tierra Atacama affair is a complete experience, from the yoga mat to the outdoor armchairs to enjoy the sunset with a glass of wine in your hand, everything is thought of with love and care, always warm and entertaining, travelling on your own or with family, you will enjoy your stay and, of course, you will want to come back.
• Join our comprehensive Atacama Desert Explorer trip, to experience the world's driest desert and its many photography, wildlife and cultural highlights while enjoying the comfort of Tierra Atacama as your base during your stay.
• Visit our photo gallery of the Atacama Desert.
• And see more Tamara's images of Tierra Atacama.
Photographs © Tamara Albarran, Far South Expeditions & Tierra Hotels.