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Chile Tour: Explora Atacama Travesia Los Andes

Explora operate a travesía program between explora Atacama and Cachi, near Salta in Argentina. This is an 8 night/9 day trip operated on set dates – contact us for more details. It follows a route that crosses the impressive Andes mountain range, over the course of which you will explore in depth the ancient culture and surprising geography of the Calchaquí valleys. On the Argentine side, the travesía will be based mainly in Cachi, the area where the first inhabitants in this vast region came to live thousands of years ago.

On Day 4, following 3 nights in at explora Atacama, you will start out early in the morning, crossing the Andes mountain range towards Argentina. You will travel southeast, passing by the agricultural towns of Toconao and Socaire. Start out on a three-hour trek in the altiplano at 4,000 meters (13,125 feet) above sea level, following a series of salt flats, mountains and volcanoes, ending at the Salar de Aguas Calientes. Later you will pass by the Tuyajto lagoon and eventually reach your shelter at El Laco just before dusk. El Laco is located at 4,200 meters (13,780 feet) above sea level, very close to the border between Chile and Argentina. Situated at the foot of the Laco peak and with a view of the salt flat of the same name, this is one of the highest-altitude and most isolated sites. Your stay there will give you an idea of what it means to live at such altitudes and you will be able to understand what it must have been like for the pioneers who crossed these lonely stretches on foot or on mules.

On Day 5 continue your journey towards Argentina. You will reach the Sico border pass, at 4,115 meters (13,500 feet) above sea level. From there, turn towards the Calchaquí valleys, passing by the village of San Antonio de los Cobres at 3,900 meters (12,795 feet) above sea level. Later you will travel the Abra del Acay road, whose highest point is at 4,900 meters (16,075 feet) above sea level, where you will be able to see the source of the Calchaquí river. Here, you will tour around the mountains surrounding the valleys. At dusk, arrive at your shelter at La Quesera, located at 3,500 meters (11,485 feet) above sea level. This dairy farm gets its name from the traditional goat cheese that is produced in the area.

In the morning of Day 6 you will tour the area around La Quesera and later descend into the valley towards La Poma, a mountain town dedicated to goat and sheep farming, located at 3,000 meters (9,845 feet) above sea level. Trek to the crater of one of the Gemelos volcanoes, eventually reaching Cachi at dusk. Cachi, whose name means "salt" in Quechua, the language of the Incas, is one of the most important towns in the Calchaquí valleys. Eight kilometres (4.9 miles) from Cachi is the Finca Rancagua ranch with an impressive view of the valley and the mountains, where you will stay for the next three nights.

Days 7 and 8 will be dedicated to exploration. Trek through the intricate Calchaquí valleys and through the Finca Rancagua, a terrain measuring over 5,000 hectares (12,355 acres). The landscape is mountainous and semi-arid. There are countless rock formations sculpted by the wind, as well as fresh water currents which gush down from the mountains and mix with the salt water of the Calchaquí river, creating good conditions for agricultural settlements and many different types of crops. You will come upon ruins, archaeological remains and cave paintings by the Calchaquí people, who developed a culture based on agriculture and ceramics many centuries ago. On this trek, you will approach the snow-capped Cachi Mountain which, at over 6,380 meters (20,930 feet) above sea level, is the highest summit in the region.

On Day 9 you will descend the Cuesta del Obispo and crossing along a landscape of hills eroded by wind and water, and head in the direction of Salta, one of the oldest colonial cities in Argentina. Around noon you will arrive in the city which is situated at an altitude of 1,200 meters (3,940 feet) and has a very pleasant climate. Depending on the time of your flight, you can eat lunch or head straight to the airport. If you would like to stay and explore Salta, you can be dropped off at the hotel of your choice.

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2013 Rates

rate in Canadian Dollars rate in Canadian Dollars rate in US Dollars rate in US Dollars
Category Single Double Single Double
3nts explora Atacama (Tulor room) + 1 night Laco + 1 night Tambo La Quesera + 3 nights Finca Rancagua 8,607 6,148 8,120 5,800
3nts explora Atacama (Yali room) + 1 night Laco + 1 night Tambo La Quesera + 3 nights Finca Rancagua 8,813 6,355 8,315 5,995
3nts explora Atacama (Catur Suite) + 1 night Laco + 1 night Tambo La Quesera + 3 nights Finca Rancagua 10,070 7,420 9,500 7,000

* Prices are subject to change until time of booking. Please inquire about 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8 night stays at explora Atacama.


The lodge has 50 rooms, each with a small living area and hydromassage bath.

(16) Tulor Rooms - measuring approx. 355 sq. ft. (33 sq. m.), these rooms have a view to Cordillera de la Sal.

(34) Yali Rooms - measuring approx. 355 sq. ft. (33 sq. m.), these rooms have a view of the countryside.

(4) Catur Suites - measuring approx. 538 sq. ft. (50 sq. m.), these rooms have balconies and views of the countryside.

What’s Included During this Travesia:

Transfers Calama Airport - Explora - Calama Airport. • Accommodations • Full board. 3 Meals per day and open bar • Daily explorations with bilingual guides and equipment; boats, horses and vehicles (max group size: 8 travelers per guide) • Entrance fees to National Reserves.

What’s Not Included During this Travesia:

Gratuities • Airfare to Calama / from Salta • International Airfare

* Rates are per person, in US$ and CA$ * The Canadian dollar rates shown above have been calculated at an exchange rate of 1.06 and are subject to change until time of payment.

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