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Explora: So Much More Than Just a Place to Stay

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By Heidi Creed

A journey to the end of the earth is epic in any event, but when you punctuate it by staying with Explora, one of South America’s premier destination experience companies, it is sure to be the experience of a lifetime.  Note that I say “destination experience” because Explora is so much more than accommodations or tours.

Patagonia in particular has been at the top of my bucket list since as long as I can remember, and experiencing it through Explora did not disappoint.  I added the Atacama Desert to my program and the diversity made it extra sweet.  Explora just has a special way of stealing a little of your heart and stoking your adventurous fire.

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Four nights were spent at each Explora Atacama and Explora Patagonia, but we easily could have used at least one more night at each property.  It was barely long enough to see the highlights, and didn’t leave much room for downtime to soak in the unique properties – or recover from the day’s adventures.  Admittedly, I’m an adventure junkie so I could  have managed my time differently if that was a priority for me.

A stay with Explora is a fully immersive experience:

  • It is a deep dive into the surrounding terrain, guided by experts who are trained in wilderness survival and (safely) navigating on and off the beaten path in 7 of the most desirable, yet remote, places in South America.  By foot, bike or horseback, guests choose from dozens of different exploration options that range from beginner to expert.
  • It is a culinary adventure, with every meal offering something healthy, tasty and different – all beautifully presented.
  • It is a stay at a place where the properties reflect the local beauty and are well-integrated with the local communities.

 

Is Explora for you?

  • If you are an active adventure enthusiast who loves the outdoors and likes to scramble by day, but return for a great meal and well-appointed room in a stunning setting by night.
  • If you like to have options in terms of how (ie foot, bike, horse, van) and where  (ie canyons, glaciers, volcanoes, mountains, lagoons etc) you explore
  • If you are (or aspire to be or wish you were) a landscape photographer
  • If you want your experience to be fully immersive, and more than just a place to sleep

This short video will give you an idea of the Explora experience, and in particular where Explora Patagonia is situated in Torres del Paine National Park. A picture alone doesn’t say it.

I chose to travel to the Atacama Desert and Patagonia during the shoulder season, and particularly in April, for considerably less crowds and shoulder season pricing, and for the vibrant fall colors that happen in Patagonia during that month.  Less and lighter wind is also a huge bonus.  The tradeoff was a little more rain, but as long as you’re prepared it’s nothing that can’t be weathered (pun intended).  We enjoyed ALL four seasons during our visit.

 

As for the Atacama Desert, if you are a star gazer consider going during a no moon lunar cycle and take advantage of Explora’s sophisticated telescope and astronomy guide.

Explora Atacama's Telescope

The fall season in Atacama brings comfortable temperatures in the mid-70’s F during the day, and a little cooler at night, which is ideal for the extraordinary diversity of the desert explorations:

  • We rode bikes over a river and through a canyon
  • We walked through the stark landscape of Valle de Luna
  • We hiked through a gorge along a thermal spring to Puritama hot springs, where Explora guests enjoy prime and exclusive access to the largest pool
  • We trekked 7 miles at more than 14,000ft through a colorful portion of the Altiplano region of the Andes, that led us down to the geysers of Rio Blanco.
  • We visited the Salt Flats and the flamingos

 

Here is a little video to help fill the gap for the otherwordly landscape…

 

As for Patagonia, the more familiar destination in the trip, it’s hard to believe that for many Patagonia is little more than an outdoor recreational clothing company. Even google indexes it so high you have to dig for information on the spectacular region at the near end of the earth that is shared by both Chile and Argentina.  The truth is, I’m quite content with that.  The less people to visit its pristine splendor the better!

Glaciers, horses, towers, lagoons and stunning colors were the highlights:

 

For the parting shot I give you these completely unedited images of how you may start and finish your day at Explora Patagonia: meals and cocktails with sweeping views.

It’s very tempting to want to sit in the lobby or down at the spa and simply watch the sun and clouds work together to dramatically change the landscape over the seasons in a day.  It’s impossible to believe it gets better the more you explore. Nature is amazing. And Explora celebrates it in a way that ensures maximum enjoyment for each and all of their intrepid guests.

For more information on this trip or others, I invite you to call Town & Country Travel at 805-495-9888, or send me a message at heidi@countrytravel.com.

One comment on “Explora: So Much More Than Just a Place to Stay

  1. DIANE Theis
    May 6, 2018

    EXCELLENT article, Heidi! Your adventure to Patagonia was far superior to ours!!

    Like

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