A couple of buddies who go way back got some love on Global Basecamps' instagram feed this week. Surely, conversation topics must run thin among such seasoned compatriots.
Chile’s Atacama Desert is home to salt flats, snowy peaks, unique desert culture, hot springs, and even a few luxury resorts, but if you didn’t stay at this particular luxury resort during your last visit here, you didn’t do it right. This week we’d like to feature one of our favorite hotel properties in the world, Awasi. Hidden away in one of the most secluded corners on the planet, you wouldn’t expect to find world-class gourmet food, perfectly personalized service, and jaw dropping accommodations, but lo and behold, it’s all there.
We won’t act like the main attraction to Awasi isn’t the Atacama Desert itself, because it is. One cannot deny the awesomeness of the mountains surrounding it, nor the vastness of the empty, arid desert. This geological nook is home to much of Chile’s ancestral heritage, thanks to the water springs that dot the landscape, and any trip to South America should include this place whether you are backpacking or going Awasi-style. Like any other desert, temperatures here fluctuate between night and day, but daytime temperatures are nearly always perfect (72°-82° year round). Named a desert thanks to its low rainfall, water still makes an impactful presence here, as thermal pools, geysers and marshes burst their way through the dry ground, giving life to Atacama’s strangely varied flora and fauna.
As you may have heard, Chile recently experienced devastating forest fires, damaging parts of the beautiful Torres del Paine National Park in Southern Patagonia. The wildfires began December 27th and quickly spread as the result of drought conditions and strong winds. The fires lasted 10 days, damaging about 7% of the park. The fires were brought under control in early January and the majority of the park reopened on January 4th, 2012.
The park is now operating normally, with hotels and other services open to receive tourists. Chile’s National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) has begun developing a restoration plan to reforest sections damaged by the fire. The plan will be implemented in Spring, with April being an important month for reforestation.
Mainland Ecuador is often just a stopping point before travelers embark on a Galápagos cruise. However, mainland Ecuador travel, with the colonial capital of Quito, lush cloud forest of Mindo, and tropical rain forests in the East should not be overlooked. October and November is typically the off season in Ecuador, meaning travelers can avoid the crowds and take advantage of reduced rates. Further, travelers can avoid the rainy season, which begins in December in most regions of the country.