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“Hard to beat as an adventure lodge” 5 of 5 stars
Review of explora Atacama

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explora Atacama
4.5 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Domingo Atienza s/n | Ayllu de Larache, San Pedro de Atacama 7580150, Chile   |  
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London
Top Contributor
112 reviews 112 reviews
76 hotel reviews
Reviews in 60 cities Reviews in 60 cities
96 helpful votes 96 helpful votes
“Hard to beat as an adventure lodge”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 4, 2012

The Atacama desert has some of the most spectacular scenery and hiking mountains in the world - and hence one expects the highest quality of guides and trips.

Explora Atacama delivers on this front brilliantly, with a full roster of guides who have extensive experience with guiding (more than 5+ years in most cases) and a brilliant range of hiking trips as well as other activities ranging from an on-site observatory to large stables/corral to biking to van trips for those who want lesser activities. Add to this four beautiful swimming pools, excellent service, good food and rooms and friendly people and you have an almost perfect place to stay.

I stayed at Explora Atacama four years ago for six nights and just recently for six nights; four years ago I thought it was excellent and was surprised to find it was even better this time around. Things could of course change -- it could experience the massive exodus of guides and deep declines in quality of explorations that I witnessed at Explora Patagonia. But right now this is the place to go -- it has the best guiding team one can possibly hope for - anywhere.

There are 50 rooms and a capacity for up to 100 people but the hotel property is so spread out the lodge does not feel nearly that big. The lodge and dining area is very well designed and spacious.

There are a couple of points that are important to keep in mind in terms of what this sort of hotel is for and what it is not for. Atacama is an adventure destination and if you are in your 30s or 40s and in really good shape and like hiking or mountain biking and have some experience with it, this is going to be a lot of fun. For those who are overweight or in not so good shape or older or less experienced with hiking, you need to manage expectations. The guides are young and strong and experienced -- they do things in their free time like mountain bike down volcanoes. While they do their best with less active or experienced guests, they can have difficulty fully appreciating the viewpoints of those who are less active (and keep in mind that in some place like Atacama less active may mean quite active elsewhere). Still, the staff and guides try really hard. So, while on some of the more dangerous hikes the guides are very careful people bring the right things (and will often bring two guides instead of one), the information on van trips and other trips aimed at the less active is less complete. The information on the Explora website is also sketchy on what to bring for what -- there is an assumption that people who go to these lodges do know what they are doing to a degree. You don't need to be in a great shape or to be very experienced to visit Atacama but the more you have done, the more you will enjoy and appreciate Atacama. And if you are in bad shape or completely unexperienced, there is a risk you will be disappointed.

On my recent trip on Atacama I was lucky enough to climb up Licancabur from the Bolivian side, the volcano Toco and do a number of excellent other trips. Because I wanted to climb Licancabur in a week, the hotel -- and in particular my fantastic guide Gustavo - did an excellent job putting together an acclimatisation program. It is not easy to get someone coming from sea level ready in just one week to climb 1300m starting from 4600m but Explora did this - with flying colours as I was able to reach the summit of Licancabur just
about the time of sunrise.

The other thing I'd note as an important factor is altitude - an issue magnified by the fact that Atacama is very, very dry.. While this lodge is in town at a reasonable 2500m, many of the most interesting trips are at 4000m or above. This means it is not a great idea to just come to Atacama for four days as you will not have time to acclimatise and see the really interesting things. Also the area around Atacama is vast. I'd regard a week as an absolute minimum and if you really are a serious hiker or want to really see the high altitude area and climb a number of the volcanoes, stay for 10 days or more. Some of the higher volcanoes have dangerous or difficult descents and this factor also needs to be kept in mind.

Every hotel has its time of glory - for Explora Atacama it is now. Go there.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
exploraSA, CEO / Gerente General at explora Atacama, responded to this review, February 23, 2012
Dear traveler,

We are very grateful for your detailed review and expertise. You’ve stayed with us before, which makes you a particularly experienced explora traveler and I am delighted to hear that in your eyes we’ve been able to improve the explora experience in Atacama.

Allow me to point out that you seem to be a very active traveler, which we encourage and thoroughly enjoy, but explora is just as much designed for a moderate to less active traveler who does not aspire to climb several volcanoes in a few days. Out of our roughly 50 explorations in the Atacama region 13 explorations are classified as “ very easy” or “easy”, which we hope gives all travelers ample choice of activities.

You might also be interested to know that we have added 11 new explorations in Patagonia starting today February 23, the day the lodge reopened after the wild fires.

Again, many thanks for your detailed feedback.

With kindest regards,

Jesús Parrilla
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199 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
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Toronto
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 8, 2011

On reflection I think this place was worth the money. The location is one of the most interesting, unique places in the world and the quality and range of excursions was truly exceptional. Our room was quite luxurious (if a bit spartan) but the common areas are quite lovely and harmonize with the surroundings. The pool is truly stunning--has to be seen to be belived and the staff are all lovely--well informed and charming young people who can't do enough to make your experience special. The only wrong note was the food. Our first night there it was exceptional and we thought we were in for quite a treat but I think they must have shifted to the "B" team for our second and third nights. While the selection and presentation was great the preparation was off--a lovely piece of sea bass overcooked and some otherwise very nice ravioli was undercooked. Nonetheless, I still highly recommend the Explora Atacama. One caution--we were a bit unprepared for the altitude. With only 2 full days to see the sights we probably pushed ourselves a bit too hard and got a big queasy. The Explora is sensitive to this and pretty good about exposing you to the altitude gradually with increasingly "higher trips" but be aware that some of them go up very high.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
exploraSA, CEO / Gerente General at explora Atacama, responded to this review, February 23, 2012
Dear traveler,

Thank you very much for your reviewing your explora travel experience.

Thank you for your overall very kind feedback. I am very sorry to hear about your mixed restaurant experience, which we have addressed in our team meetings, with our COO and Corporate Executive Chef.

As you’ve pointed out very accurately, our rooms are comfortable and offer all necessary luxuries - we call it the luxury of the essentials - but most importantly travelers are encouraged to join the plethora of daily explorations. San Pedro de Atacama is located at 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) above sea level. Explorations are grouped by elevation and activity in order to safely acclimatize the body to the altitude accordingly. Our guides help all travelers with understanding and prioritizing the exact explorations being offered. They range from very easy to difficult. Some of the explorations may take you to over 4,300 meters (14,180 feet) for a short while. If you participate in High Mountain Climbing, you will find yourself between 5,500 and 6,100 meters (18,000 and 20,000 feet). But generally there is no need to worry, all explorations have special acclimatization requirements in order to help you comfortably adjust to the altitude.

Lastly, remember that after visiting one explora lodge, you are entitled to the benefits of our CESA - Club Exploradores del Sur de América - a recognition program with benefits including rate discounts and room upgrades for repeat guests.


With kindest regards,

Jesús Parrilla
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Houston, Texas
Top Contributor
83 reviews 83 reviews
34 hotel reviews
Reviews in 43 cities Reviews in 43 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 1, 2011

Explora Patagonia was perfect and we expected Atacama property to match it. Alas the service was not at par. Our wake up call was missed, the guides gave different times to meet in the lobby , the guides were switched and it was utter confusion.

The rooms and the food was nice. I wish the chefs offer something creative for vegetarians.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
exploraSA, CEO / Gerente General at explora Atacama, responded to this review, February 23, 2012
Dear traveler,

We are grateful for the time you spent on reviewing your explora experience. I am particularly grateful for ending your review on a positive note, alas your negative feedback gives understandable reason for disappointment. explora takes your feedback very seriously and reviews each comment in team meetings in order to improve and avoid miscommunication in the future.

Thank you for your valuable feedback and look forward to seeing you in Rapa Nui or any of our Travesías/Nomadic Journeys.

With kindest regards,

Jesús Parrilla
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Paris, France
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 19, 2011

Explora Atacama is a unique experience.

Until you have tried it, you might be puzzled by the price.... Is it really worth it ? Once you have tried it, you have no doubts...The answer is YES, it is a worth every penny...

Explora is not about tourism, Explora is about travel and discovery. It may seems alike, but there is a huge difference.

Everything is perfectly organized so that you can free your mind and be open to the wonders of Atacama.

The hotel is astonishing; both elegant and functional. Rooms are simple but you will find absolutely everything you need with a touch of luxury.

Food is amazing; you would not imagine to find such delicious food and wine in a desert. It is served in a beautiful dining room and you have the feeling to be in a gourmet restaurant.

All the staff are friendly, caring and professional. You feel like a guest and a friend, not like a customer.

I am very reluctant to group travel; at Explora Atacama visits are organized with very small groups (usually 4 to 6 persons) and I did not feel at all the pressure of the group travel.

I you have a chance to set on a Travesia, a deeper and more intense experience awaits you.

It's just one step away from perfection. For a totally unexplainable reason, once a week, the gourmet diner is replaced by an collective open air barbecue with music and songs. It belongs to the world of low quality mass tourism and has nothing to do with the explora experience. Once this will be corrected (and I hope they will do it fast... it was already there at my previous visit), Explora will reach perfection !

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
exploraSA, CEO / Gerente General at explora Atacama, responded to this review, November 17, 2011
Dear traveler,

We are very grateful for the time you spent on reviewing your explora experience. I am particularly grateful for your mention of the explora Travesia, our nomadic journeys, which we consider to be at the heart of the explora travel philosophy. From our perspective, the nomadic journeys embody the idea of a “journeys for the sake of the journey” no matter which one you choose: traveling through El Chaltén in Patagonia, the Calchaquí Valley in northern Argentina, or the Uyuni Salt Flat in the Bolivian Altiplano.

I am also very interested in your take on our BBQ set up, locally referred to as quincho. I am very sorry that the meal and event did not meet your expectations. Support for locals musicians and traditions are a part of our commitment to biocultural conservation and while we do receive a lot very favorable comments about the quincho´s overall experience, we do take your feedback very seriously and will continue to thrive for perfection.

Thank you and look forward to seeing you in the near future!

With kindest regards,

Jesús Parrilla
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Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 12, 2011

This hotel is a little bit expensive, but it worths every penny.
Good service, wonderful food, fantastic guides!!!

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
exploraSA, CEO / Gerente General at explora Atacama, responded to this review, November 17, 2011
Dear Traveler,

Thank you for your reviewing your explora travel experience.

Your words are music to our ears! Thank you for your very kind feedback.

Please remember that after visiting one explora lodge, you are entitled to the benefits of our CESA - Club Exploradores del Sur de América - a recognition program with benefits including rate discounts and room upgrades for repeat guests. You can find more details in our website.

With kindest regards,

Jesús Parrilla
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santiago, Chile
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 31, 2011

We are serious travelers. We have been in the most fascinating, luxurious and unique hotels around the world so we had reasonably high expectations. Explora was beyond all. Is not just the Hotel or the location, the design, the rooms, the showers and bathrooms or the cuisine is also about the experience. Explora is the base camp for the best expedition experiences. You can be Edmund Hillary with a taylor made expedition guided by a great staff of well trained guides or just stay on the comfortable bar having a flawless drink. The service is always personalized, with great attention to detail. Oh Explora ! if i can award you 10 stars I would.
You are gorgeous. Can´t wait for our next Explora Patagonia Experience !
ps: the massage is hands down the best I've had.

Room Tip: Try the new Suites ! Horse riding to Quebrada del Diablo is a must !
See more room tips
  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
exploraSA, CEO / Gerente General at explora Atacama, responded to this review, November 17, 2011
Dear Traveler,

Thank you for your reviewing your explora travel experience.

Your review makes a wonderful point and that is that explora is a “travel experience” not solely a hotel group. In our humble opinion, it is the experience is what distinguishes explora from other travel companies and you’ve put into very kind words what an explora adventure means for travelers interested in experiencing South America.

Very recently we’ve set out to better define this experience on our home page, which you can review at any point.

While we still strongly suggest to live the explora experience, we tried to explain it and hope that you approve.

Thank you.

With kindest regards,

Jesús Parrilla
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
28 hotel reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 10, 2011

This place costs the earth, but worth every penny - not just because it came at the end of a month´s fairlly hard travelling acorss Peru and Bolivia but the standard of excellent (but unobtrusive) service is simply the best. Despite being in the middle of one of the worls´s more extreme deserts the restaurant has top notch food and excllent Chilean wines on a tasting menu ' all included in the price )although you can go off menu for extra). If you don´t fancy regular mealtimes they do plenty of mouth watering food between whiles all included. The views are simply stunning of the volcanoes along the Chile Bolivia border and towards Argentina and th ehotel caters for all manner of outdoor activity. We maxed out on the horse riding in the desert. They have excellent Americam Quarter horses of good temperement (fine for the kids) with a choice of European or Chilean saddles. Mountain biking and hiking are both on offer (we did some hiking too) and they have a good thermal spring up in the hills with a luxury picnic on tap. Other key activity is tar gazing on their massive mirror telescope - the Atacama desert is one of the world´s best stargazing venues because of the dry clear atmosphere. Collection at Bolivia border and drop-off at Calama airport faultless. My favorite hotel in the world.

  • Stayed September 2010, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
exploraSA, CEO / Gerente General at explora Atacama, responded to this review, August 25, 2011
Dear traveler,

Thank you so very much for your kind words about explora.

I am delighted to hear that you traveled as a family to explora Atacama and that all members of your family found or tried activities that you enjoyed. While every excursion can be undertaken as a family, it’s also very simple to split up in different activities throughout the day, depending on age and interest of each family member. The explora Atacama program offersover 50 explorations, which are all part of our all-inclusive travel philosophy. We gently encourage travelers to try what seems most interesting or intriguing to them. For us, luxury is in the simple details, which are never superfluous.

Please remember that after visiting one explora lodge, you are entitled to the benefits of our CESA - Club Exploradores del Sur de América - a recognition program with benefits including rate discounts and room upgrades for repeat guests.

We very much appreciate your feedback. Thank you.

With kind regards,

Jesús Parrilla
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about explora Atacama

Address: Domingo Atienza s/n | Ayllu de Larache, San Pedro de Atacama 7580150, Chile
Location: Chile > Antofagasta Region > San Pedro de Atacama
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Romantic Hotel in San Pedro de Atacama
#2 Luxury Hotel in San Pedro de Atacama
#4 Business Hotel in San Pedro de Atacama
#5 Family Hotel in San Pedro de Atacama
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — explora Atacama 4.5*
Number of rooms: 50
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Our lodge is located on a plain known as the Ayllu de Larache, once inhabited by an ancient Atacameno community. We have respected the original layout of the land and restored and maintained some of the buildings.Opened in 1998, our lodge is situated on 17 hectares (42 acres) of grounds just a few minutes' walk from the town of San Pedro de Atacama. In the area surrounding the lodge, we have maintained the ancient pathways and buildings which form a labyrinth that invites exploration.There are 50 rooms housed in three long buildings, positioned to form a central square planted with large trees for ample shade. On the fourth side of the square is the building which houses the lodge's public spaces. The views from the lodge's broad terraces enable you to enjoy Atacama's vast chain of volcanic mountains.In 2008, we set ourselves the challenge of intensifying your explora Atacama experience, remodeling the furnishings and the indoor and outdoor spaces. Now that the work is complete, we are pleased to be able to offer you new facilities and services. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
De Larache Hotel
Resort All Inclusive De Larache
Explora Atacama San Pedro De Atacama, Chile

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