Romantic desert oasis, Wara Lodge, has been finely tuned to low-key luxury perfection. A stay at Wara is all about exploring the desert wilderness; sand dune safaris, campfire dinners under the clearest skies, adrenaline-charged mornings of sandboarding and dune-buggying, complemented by post-adventure downtime, gazing up at the contours and colours of the mountains from a pool-side lounger, watching the reflections of cacti and Algarrobo trees in the trickling garden fountain, or relaxing in the wellness-spa.
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Enter through a wide gate, following pampa grass lines towards the lodge, where large cacti and clay urns surround a hand-carved wooden front door. The lodge is designed with smooth adobe walls topped with thatched roofs, perfectly located on the edge of an oasis, with stunning views across the desert and mountains. Seven spacious villas, each individual in style, lead out to private terraces with hot tubs. Each space is decorated with hand-woven local textiles, piles of soft throws and bright cushions, adding warmth and colour to the natural earth tones of the lodge and surroundings. Each bedroom connects through to a large ensuite bathroom, kitted out with luxury amenities and a stand-alone tub, positioned to enjoy gorgeous landscape views.
Peaceful evenings are spent curled up by a slow-burning log fire in the softly-lit sitting room, or out in the desert contemplating the constellations. Wrap up in a blanket by a firepit and take in the skies, immersed in the piercing silence of the desert. The high altitude and dryness create a privileged setting to see the constellations, stars, planets and galaxies. Some of the biggest astronomical projects worldwide are being developed in this region.
Wara’s privileged location just outside Copiapo and 25 minutes from the Desierto del Atacama airport gives real variety to the experiences on offer. Explore breathtaking national parks, Nevado Tres Cruces and Pan de Azucar, Laguna Verde and Ojos del Salado, hike the highest active volcano in the world, stroll white sand Pacific coast beaches in search of colonies of Humboldt penguins in their natural habitat, and hike across seas of colourful desert hills, carving your own path.
Food is mostly homegrown from Wara’s organic garden; plenty of colourful fruits and vegetables and lots of fresh fish from the coast – ceviche is a local favourite. Meals are paired with local Andean wines and guests can dine by the fire, al fresco under the stars, privately in the garden by the pool, or take a desert hike with a beautifully-prepared picnic lunch to refuel along the way.
Wara is a truly special place. The smallest details have been paid great attention by Susana (owner-designer-manager-extraordinaire) who has personally created one of the most restful, rustic-chic retreats in Chile, wonderfully in keeping with the simplicity of its natural surroundings.
A little trivia… Wara Lodge was inaugurated by the actors and directors of ‘The 33’, including Antonio Banderas and Juliette Binoche, who all stayed there for 3 months during filming. ‘The 33’, based on the true story of 33 Chilean miners who were trapped underground for 69 days in 2010.