People often ask when is the best time to travel to Chile’s Atacama Desert. The simple answer is that Awasi Atacama, our 12-room Relais & Chateaux desert lodge, is open year round for good reason.

The lowest occupancy falls in Chilean Winter (you may have seen our piece on travel between May and October), and this can be because people want to visit both Atacama and Patagonia in one trip, and Awasi Patagonia closes between May and September.

There is a beauty to all seasons in the Atacama. The photograph above shows the winter months when some of the trees don’t have leaves, but the temperature remains warm during the day (20-25 °C / 68-77 °F) so you can still sit by the swimming pool.

Year round but for how long?

The other question that is frequently asked is how long should travellers give to each destination. How long do you need to be able to experience the Atacama Desert and not feel rushed?

At Awasi Atacama we have a minimum 3-night stay, so that gives you an indication of what we feel is the shortest recommended time. When planning your trip to Atacama, it is important to take altitude seriously into account. San Pedro de Atacama lays at about 2,500 metres above sea level (just over 8,000 feet), and many of the must-see attractions are located even higher. The geysers, the Altiplano and the volcanoes are located above 4,000 and even 5,000 metres. This altitude can take its toll: some might feel a bit more tired than usual, lose their breath faster and even experience headaches. For this reason, we usually recommend taking at least 4 to 5 days to experience this destination comfortably.

Each room has a private sun terrace at Awasi Atacama – be sure to leave time to enjoy the lodge

Of course, it comes down to how much you would like to see. To help decide, we created an Interactive Guide to Excursions at Awasi Atacama.

The idea here is that you can select the type of activity (hike, water-based, or horseback for example) and the length and then see how many options appeal to you.

The wonderfully named Dinosaur Valley might attract your attention. This valley owes its name not to fossils, but rather to the peculiar shapes that make up its topography. Alligned for several kilometres, the hills have taken on shapes that are reminiscent of the spikes on a dinosaur’s back. This unique landscape allows for fantastic photo opportunities and the chance to for some slightly challenging horseback riding.

Among the classic highlights are the geysers, as photographed above.

The El Tatio (from the kunza “Tata-iu”, which means “the grandfather who cries”) geysers are one of the most popular attractions in the country. It is the largest geothermal field in the southern hemisphere, complete with small fumaroles, bubbling springs and beautiful fountains of water. However, what truly sets it apart is a different statistic: at around 4.300 meters above sea level (14.170 feet) the highest one in the world.

Awasi Atacama guests enjoy a picnic lunch

The food at Awasi is a highlight in itself. All three Awasi hotels (Atacama, Patagonia and Iguazu) are part of Relais & Chateaux, an association that prizes gastronomy as highly as the level of accommodation. 

Not only is the food in the hotel delicious, seasonal and locally-inspired, but our chefs take picnics to another level. The combination of a breathtaking spot (like above) along with world-class food and wine, is something guests want to stay as long as possible to enjoy.

At Awasi Atacama, the majority of our communal areas are open to the sky and stars overhead

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to our reservations team who will be happy to discuss any subject from length of stay to anything else! Please email us at