OPTIONAL PRE TOUR
20- 23 February 2016
Like nowhere else on earth, Chile’s Atacama Desert is THE destination for those who want to get off the beaten track, thrive on adventure (soft or not so soft - you choose) and have a passion for photography. Marvel at the incredible landscape of jagged, rust-coloured ravines; vast rocky white salt pans; volcano-topped horizons. From your base in a state-of the-art eco lodge, you can immerse yourself in one of the most remote and spectacular environments on the planet.
Saturday 20 February 2016 - Australia – Santiago de Chile - Calama
Depart Australia, flying via Santiago de Chile and arrive in Calama in the afternoon
Transfer to your hotel, the design of which has been influenced by local indigenous architecture and has been built to blend into the terracotta-coloured ridge that rises behind it. You can enjoy the sweeping views and tranquillity of the hotel’s outdoor spaces. Stroll through the “Andescape” gardens where decorative local flora and materials reflect the native culture.
This evening you may wish to join an astronomer to appreciate the spectacular night sky. The dark and cloudless atmosphere makes the Atacama Desert a hub of astronomical research and home to a clutch of cutting-edge observatories. The pale mist of the Milky Way and many thousands of stars will leave you pondering our place in the universe.
Accommodation: Alto Atacama Desert Lodge and Spa – 3 nights stay
Sunday 21 and Monday 22 February - Atacama Desert
Over the next 2 days choose your own adventures from close to thirty options depending on your fitness, interest or mood on the day.
You may wish to take an early morning trip to El Taito geyser field and watch the sun rise through the billowing smoke of hundreds of craters that pock the barren ground;
Visit the Chaxas lagoon , part of the Atacama salt flats, which beautifully reflects the snow peaked Andes and is home to three species of flamingos and numerous endemic birds;
Explore local villages where car-free dirt streets create a languorous vibe; discover colonial churches and shop in vibrant markets learning how the Indians have survived in this harsh climate.
Travel to the Valley of the Moon and as the sun slips below the horizon watch the transformation as the distant ring of volcanoes, the rippling salt pans and the surreal lunar landscape are suffused with intense purples, pinks and gold.
Explore Rainbow Valley, where mineral deposits have left vibrant red, green yellow, brown and purple colouration in the rocks which have been shaped into spires and canyons by the wind. Discover some petroglyphs carved into rocks and caves by the Atacameno people 10,000 years ago.
Float in the icy waters of Cejar Lagoon which, like the Dead Sea, is so salty all you can do is lie back and take in the views of the Salar de Atacama (salt plains) and the distant Andes. Not for the faint hearted!
Or, just hang around the gorgeous lodge enjoying breathtaking views from the swimming pools or decks or indulge yourself at the hotel Spa.
Tuesday 23 February 2016 - Calama –Santiago – Punta Arenas
Enjoy your final morning in the Atacama desert.
This afternoon fly to southern Chile to join the main conference.
End of arrangements
Please note that this itinerary and costs may be subject to change.