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DESTINATION FEATURE it up Day 6-7 : After acclimatizing for several days it's time to push yourself a little, and trek your way to the top of El Toco, an extinct volcano. The hotel van will get you up the first 16,500 feet, the next 2,145 feet are up to you. The view is worth it: You'll spot the Bolivian Altiplano and the Atacama Salt Flat to the west. Afterward, relax in either the outdoor pool or heated indoor pool while sipping rica rica herbal tea. Take a book to the dining area and relax on the low slung sofas covered with alpaca blankets. When you have no energy left, belly up to the bar made of re¬ cycled railroad ties, and sip on Chile's signature drink, pisco sour. And, may I suggest an order of Chilean sea bass? (Breakfast, lunch and dinner is included every day in the restaurant.) Afterward, grab a lounge chair and gaze at the star-strewn sky in what is known as the clearest sky in the hemisphere. With the high altitude, nearly non-existent cloud cover, dry air and lack of light pollution, it's pretty spectacular. Fly back home over the Andes knowing that the Atacama Desert is, hands-down, one of the most stunning places in the world. And, at Tierra Atacama, it's all just outside your private terrace door. As many Chileans would say, "It's delicious." Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa Camino Sequitor S/N, Ayllu de Yaye San Pedro de Atacama, Chile 800-829-5325 (from the U.S.) tierraatacama.com info@tierraatacama.com **Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa (tierrapatagonia.com; @TierraPa- tagonia) is scheduled to open December 20. It's set on the edge of Torres del Paine National Park. Enough said. **Keep in mind: It is prohibited to import any animal or vegetable goods into Chile, including such things as cheeses, fruit, cured meats etc. Fines are heavy, so eat it or dump it before you get there. **Due to the altitude of this area (8,045 feet), eat light foods and avoid alcohol on the first day. Drink lots of water, too. Photos Courtesy of Tierra Atcama Hotel & Spa and Sarah Sekula S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2012 85


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