Access & Resources
Three-, four-, and seven-day all-inclusive packages, priced from $1,296 to $2,441 per person, include meals, drinks, gear, activities, and airport transfers. 011-56-2-395-2533, www.explora.com
San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Explora in AtacamaHotel de Larache
Wealthy South American businessman Pedro Ibañez built this lodge in 1998, offering guests refined luxury in the middle of the rugged-adventure land the Inca once called home. Set in a 700-mile-long desert amid six soaring volcanoes, the mile-and-a-half-high town of San Pedro de Atacama is close to the driest place on earthin some parts of the Atacama Desert, it hasn't rained in more than a century. But there are oases: Guests can take guided excursions to hot springs and boiling geysers, or to the buoyant turquoise waters found at the nearby salt flats.
ROOM & BOARD: The sleek white lines of the hotel blend well with the local adobe architecture. The 50 guest rooms are brightly decorated with yellow, blue, and green wicker furniture, alpaca blankets, and fine linens imported from Spain. Four lap pools and four saunas await you, as does a new relaxation center, Casa del Agua, offering herbal oil massage and herbal baths. In the minimalist dining room, sample French chef Lorenzo Pascualetto's fire-roasted Patagonian lamb and to-die-for Chilean wines.
OUT THE BACK DOOR: Explora's bilingual guides offer guests five to seven excursion options per day, including hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and visits to archaeological sites. To watch the world's best sunset, catch a 15-minute ride to Valle de la Luna, then hike an hour and a half through miniature sand mountains. Or if you really want to earn your pisco sour (a favorite Chilean cocktail), top 19,455-foot Volcán Licancábur. Rumor has it, there's a magical surprise in the crater lake at the summit.