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Travel advisor Charissa Popp was familiar with South America – having visited Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Uruguay. But she had never been to Chile. Or Tierra hotels (Atacama, Patagonia, Chiloe). She’d heard ‘a lot of good’ about them however, so much so that she not only made a point to visit herself. But brought along her husband and two children.
“I had heard of Tierra Atacama (through Virtuoso and one of Janine’s presentations) but, as a new travel advisor, had not yet had opportunity to plan client travel to Chile,” says Charissa. “So I was not familiar with how exceptional Tierra is or how unique the whole Atacama Desert region is.”
The family based in Chile for a month and Charissa says the country exceeded her expectations. “There is so much to do and see – it reminded me of a less-discovered California (with both South American and European influences). Santiago was our home base and is convenient to a lot – the Andes for hiking in summer or skiing in winter, multiple wine regions are easily accessible, short drives to coastal towns.
“We, of course, hopped on a quick flight and in a few hours found ourselves in the Atacama desert; its beautiful and unique landscapes. Our visit to Atacama was a highlight for our entire family,” Charissa continues. “The landscapes were like nothing we’ve ever seen before – unique and breathtaking. And we love being active and having new things to do when we travel. Atacama is perfect for active adventure travelers. It was so cool to see the lunar-like rock formations of the Valley of the Moon, the giant sand dunes of Death Valley, the Chaxa salt flats, salt water lagoons and to explore salt canyons and caves. My boys (ages 7 and 9) can’t stop talking about our cool Atacama adventures.”
The hotel, too, impressed. “When we entered Tierra Atacama, I knew instantly it was my ‘preferred style” – elegant boutique with a warm vibe,” says Charissa. “I loved the contemporary design that also incorporates rustic and natural elements – giving a real sense of place. The atmosphere was lively, yet felt relaxed, upscale but unpretentious. We appreciated the natural surroundings – the views of Licancabur Volcano from multiple areas around the hotel (even our room) were stunning.
“The staff was warm; everyone was kind and genuine. And very welcoming to our children; made them feel they belongs and were VIP guests as well. Meeting with the excursion guide upon arrival was key – our guide took us through all of the sights and each location on the giant Atacama map on the wall. It was a great education on the area and on everything we could do in Atacama.
“We enjoyed every excursion but if we had to choose our favorite, it would be the bike ride across the dessert to the Cejar Lagoon. I had no idea the salt water content compared to the Dead Sea and floating on top of the water was such a cool experience, even though it was icy cold. We appreciated the guide bringing towels and big bath robes to the lagoon so we could warm up after. We were lucky enough to be the only people in the lagoon at the time making for a very unique, cool experience (and some amazing photos).
“Food and wine was also a wow. We are ‘foodie’ travelers and the food was exceptional; with hearty-side options which we loved after an active day. Meals were always made with fresh, local ingredients and I loved the high-end Chilean wines and fun Pisco cocktails the bartenders created for me.
Only regret: “Be sure to factor in time to relax – poolside and within the hotel’s lovely spa facilities,” says Charissa. “We filled each of our days with a wide variety of amazing excursions. I wish we’d added one more day – simply to relax.”
Luxury Travel Advisor
Infinite Discoveries, an independently owned & operated affiliate of Largay Travel
Travel advisor Instagram: @infinite.discoveries
Popp family’s around-the-world travels: @globepoppin
Office: (732) 473-9982
Fax: (732) 473-9986