“The main reason guests travel to the Atacama is for the incredible outdoor experiences that come with spectacular views” writes Sherrie Nachman in Forbes Magazine.

Fortunately, she came to the right place.

“Awasi is unusual in that each group or family is assigned their own guide [and vehicle]. This means you can tailor your adventures to meet your individual needs. Some terrific options include a hike to the hot springs, a visit to the salt flats with their resident flamingos, a serious hike on one of the areas volcanoes, or a more leisurely hike to a cactus-filled gorge or boulders with petroglyphs.”

The Atacama Desert has captured visitors’ imaginations for centuries, with its dramatic landscapes and other-worldly features, including sand dunes, hot springs, salt flats, and the aptly-named ‘moon valley’.

As Sherrie, an experienced travel journalist and contributor whose work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times Magazine and Travel & Leisure, explains, “Awasi, a Relais & Chateaux property, has created the ultimate luxury oasis for those who want to explore this adventure destination with a more bespoke approach.”

Awasi Atamaca is situated in the heart of San Pedro de Atacama, a town on the high plateau of arid Northern Chile, built centuries ago around, fittingly, an oasis. 

The 12 spacious suites are built from adobe, stone and other natural materials, taking their inspiration from pre-Incan ruins found in the region.

Local artisans made the adobe bricks by hand, slowly baking in the desert sun using techniques that have changed little for millennia.

“You can expect a spacious suite that incorporates numerous indulgent touches, including heated floors, incredibly comfortable beds, a private outdoor patio and shower and a very well-stocked mini bar” notes Sherrie in her piece.

The Atacama is particularly well known for its star-gazing, with the altitude, dry conditions and remoteness, far as it is from any large conurbations, conspiring to create exceptionally clear nightscapes and breath-taking views of the stars above.

“Everyone’s favourite night-time activity is stargazing; a short drive will take you to the property’s telescope, where you will be amazed by the night sky” explains Sherrie.

After a day exploring the Atacama Desert, guests tend to work up an appetite.

Fortunately, “food is one of the highlights of Awasi. The quality of the local ingredients and the creativity of chef Juan Pablo Mardones are truly outstanding. A typical dinner might include a starter of palm heart salad, green chili soup with walnut cream or smoked trout crudo. Main courses could feature homemade pasta with mussels, lamb with cauliflower and almonds or some of the best steak I have ever eaten”.

This is no hyperbole – the culinary offerings at this Relais & Chateaux property are extraordinary, using locally sourced, seasonal produce that speak to indigenous cultures and culinary traditions. It is no surprise that Sherrie notes that “many guests choose to forego a full day activity just so they can be back for the Awasi lunch!”

Our resident sommelier, Alvaro Alarcon Aliaga, is on hand to pair courses with the finest wines, with a large selection originating from Chile itself. For those heading to the bar, our “on-staff mixologist…creates a new, terrific cocktail every evening”.

Ultimately, whilst the excursions, the suites, the pool, the food and the drink all combine to make for an unforgettable trip, there is one extra factor that, for Sherrie, really makes Awasi Atacama stand out.

“The other exceptional feature of Awasi is the staff”, she writes. 

“There are only 12 suites and every member of the Awasi team will know your name and make you feel extremely welcome and well-taken care of. They send you off every morning with a cooler full of snacks and warm wishes, and welcome you back with a greeting by the front door.”

Sherrie Nachman’s article was published in Forbes Magazine in September 2023.