Posted by: Stephanie Tuck | October 25, 2010

Chilean Miners strike gold

One of my all-time thrills: galloping across the Atacama Desert.

Like the rest of the world, I was transfixed by the rescue of the miners in the Atacama Desert, Chile.  The fact they all survived is amazing and that none of the 33 men totally lost his mind is, well, mind-boggling.  These people are strong. It’s heartening to see so many generous gifts now coming their way to help them ease back into life on earth. I was tickled to read that among their bounty is an invitation to stay at the nearby luxury  hotel, The Explora,  in the tiny town of San Pedro, Chile. Having been there, all I can say is VAMOS guys. It’s AWESOME – in fact, it may just be my favorite place.

The pool at the Explora Hotel in Atacama, where design meets desert.

The Explora is a small chain of high-end adventure travel hotels in Chile (other locations are Patagonia and Easter Island.) Every night after a lush meal with full red Chilean wines, they bring out a menu of the next day’s athletic adventure options. In Atacama, I galloped on horseback for hours, up and down sand dunes and through walled canyons (I’ve never ridden like this in The States. It was wild.)   I hiked and caved in the desert, one of the driest spots on earth – so dry, in fact, lunar landings have been practiced here.  I mountain biked on cracking vast mud flats past pink flamingos and buoyantly bobbed in a lake as salty as the Dead Sea in Israel. I will forever remember the night in which we climbed a notably tall dune, and lay on blankets under a canopy of what felt like low-hanging stars (in the words of Jimi Hendrix,  “Excuse me while I kiss the sky.”) Magical.

And at the end of each rigorous day, I collapsed onto high thread count sheets and found a piece of chocolate on my pillow. “Roughing it,” this is not. I was there on a press trip – can’t lie, it’s pricey – and I felt like I had pretty much won the lottery every day I was there.

My goofy great leap forward in Chile's Atacama Desert.

Mmmm, parts of The Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon) area of the desert are covered with a layer of pure white salt. I sampled the fare and yes this is the stuff trade routes (and popcorn) were made for!

And so, dear miners, when you’re done doing interviews and fighting each other over who will get George Clooney or Brad Pitt to portray him, I hope you kick back and really dig into the delights of the Explora as much as I did. This place is way cooler than the usual Disney Land offer. And friends who are reading, start saving up now. It is worth every peso. Happy trails! xxooSteph


  1. Very, VERY cool.


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