Luxury and adventure at the foot of the Andes

A trip to South America’s Andes is undoubtedly a challenging adventure. This mountain range that crosses the continent is the longest on Earth, with its vastness matched only by the enigmatic and imposing beauty of its landscapes. Its crystal-clear lakes, snow-capped peaks, endless deserts, lush forests, breathtaking highlands, awe-inspiring glaciers, small indigenous communities and colorful markets… all of these form the perfect setting for adventure lovers to discover this new and fascinating world.

In this unique natural environment, a first-class tourist infrastructure has been developed to accommodate all tastes and budgets. Therefore, if you’re seeking accommodations where you can fully enjoy the Andean world without sacrificing comfort and convenience, here we present five of the best lodges and luxury hotels for experiencing Andean adventure, excitement and pure pleasure.

Hotel Llao Llao: The Patagonia (Argentina)

With a privileged location in the most southern region of South America — Patagonia — Hotel Llao Llao is situated on the edge of a crystal-clear lake and amidst bright snowy mountains, where this five-star lodge is categorized as a luxury Andean accommodation possessing exceptional services.

Fusing the classic and the contemporary to create a dreamlike image, Llao Llao was built in perfect harmony with its rustic surroundings, but with modern facilities and first-class services.

The hotel has 162 rooms spread over two wings, where both the luxury suites and standard rooms are inspired by the warm landscape surrounding the hotel. The hotel’s design emphasizes the intense light of Patagonia, which turns the hotel’s rooms into elegant, bright and welcoming spaces. All of the guest quarters have beautiful views of either Lake Nahuel Huapi or Cerro Tronador Mountain. For families and small groups of friends, there are rooms that are connected or contiguous.

In the lodge’s spa, you can pamper yourself with an anti-stress massage or a treatment with herbal wraps, while the outdoor activities offered to guests range from swimming in a large heated pool, to playing golf on an 18-hole course, mountain biking, birdwatching, rappelling, skiing, sports fishing, tango lessons, yoga, windsurfing and other options. Added to this are the hotel’s exquisite dining (their specialty is meat dishes), accompanied by the best wines of Argentine and other regions.

Cavas Wine Lodge: Mendoza (Argentina)

This lodge, with personalized services and only 18 rooms, possesses a very special feature: it was the first created in Mendoza (Argentina) with a spa featuring wine-based therapies, while its rooms are charmingly situated between vineyards.

Nestled in a region known as Alto Agrelo de Luján, this luxurious hotel is accessed down cobblestone roads that wind through centuries-old vineyards. Cavas Wine Lodge’s facilities and services earn it the distinction of a luxury inn, ideal for those who enjoy pleasures such as gourmet food and an excellent selection of wines. All of this can be found in a magical natural environment surrounded by 35 spectacular wine cellars, which can be reached by bicycle, car, on horseback or as part of the “Wine Safari” organized by the hotel.

Visits to the wineries are fascinating and informative, ideal for those who wish to discover the secrets of fine wines and enjoy sampling them. In addition, there are the “stars” of the lodge: the spa’s scientifically-based anti-aging wine treatments.

Finally, there’s the food. As no trip is memorable without a good meal, the dishes served in the lodge’s charming restaurant are prepared with the best local organic vegetables and fruits. In addition, meats, homemade pastas, and the best fish are combined in a varied menu that changes daily. Breakfasts come with homemade yogurt, different egg dishes, freshly squeezed juices and more – a great way to start the day at Cavas Wine Lodge. And vegetarians have nothing to worry about, since the options for them are just as good and varied. Food tasting and cooking classes with products from the garden complete the culinary experience at the hotel.

The terrace overlooking the vineyards, with mountains in the background, is one of the favorite places for guests at this hotel, located just one hour from the city of Mendoza.

Salkantay Lodge & Adventure Resort (Peru)

Have you always dreamed of hiking the Inca Trail …but with the comforts of cozy and comfortable lodging?

This possibility exists at the first-class Salkantay Lodge & Adventure Resort. The lodge provides a series of itineraries of varying durations, though each allows travelers to experience the enriching experience of traveling this ancestral route while spending the night in a luxury lodge.

The resort offers luxurious mountain huts that while built in a contemporary style use ancestral techniques that coexist in perfect harmony with the environment. In addition, these guest quarters are equipped with all the services and facilities required to ensure a comfortable and pleasant stay.

Explora Atacama Lodge (Atacama, Chile)

Located in the stunning Atacama Desert (Chile), between the Pacific Ocean and the snow-capped mountains of the Andes, the Explora Atacama Lodge is situated on the outskirts of the oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama.

This luxurious hotel, also built in perfect harmony with its surroundings, is the perfect “center of operations” for those who want to experience and explore the driest desert in the world while enjoying a comfortable stay with first-class service.

The Atacama Lodge has 50 rooms (33 square meters each), all with spectacular views of the desert, snowy mountains and/or surrounding volcanoes. In addition to a Jacuzzi, a living room and designer furniture, the floors of each room are tiled and the bedding is of the highest quality.

The hotel’s exclusive restaurant serves up sophisticated international dishes as well as plates with special local touches. The bar and lounge are the perfect spaces to relax, socialize and meet other travelers while sharing the impressions of the day. Atacama Lodge also offers a variety of excursions with expert private guides. These daily outings include mountain biking, horseback riding over sand dunes, desert stargazing, volcano climbing, cultural outings, Moon Valley sunset watching, and visits to the lodge’s private hot springs, which are just some of what you can experience in this famous Chilean desert.

In short, Explora Atacama Lodge is the ideal destination for those seeking the perfect combination of adventure, natural landscapes and luxury accommodations, which makes it the perfect place to rest and relax after intense days of desert exploration.

Hacienda Zuleta (Ecuador)

The US tourism magazine Outside has rated Hacienda Zuleta as one of its “ten best finds.” Located in the Andean mountain range at 2,800 meters above sea level, Zuleta is the perfect fusion of comfort, nature and history.

The lodge was built at the end of the 16th century and, though situated only two hours from the Ecuadorian capital city of Quito, it exists in its own particular universe. It is a place where the traveler can disconnect from the noise, stress and hectic routines of the city.

Owned for more than 100 years by the family of former Ecuadorian president Galo Plaza Lasso, the estate covers over 4,000 acres (2,000 hectares). The imposing hacienda’s main house consists of 14 spacious rooms, all decorated in a classic style and each possessing its own fireplace.

The dining room, one of the most beautiful spaces of the hacienda, offers meals with a homemade touch with products from the region and the hacienda itself …including Zuleta dairy products, trout fishing and organic vegetables.

The common environments such as living rooms, gardens and reading rooms, complement the serene surroundings of this historic building, perfectly adapted for providing comfortable, hospitable and warm services that focus on great attention to detail. And though these detailed services may be simple gestures, they can make all the difference in your stay (imagine the staff preparing your room for the evening while you dine, placing hot water bags in your bed and lighting the fireplace).

However, staying in Zuleta is more than sitting by the fireplace, savoring a steaming coffee or strolling through the meadows. The hacienda offers a variety of activities that range from horseback riding through the Andean highlands to mountain biking, walks, cow milking and the enriching experience of sharing life in the local community.

The surroundings of the hacienda, framed by pine trees and eucalyptus forests, make the Zuleta Valley a paradise for outdoor activities and an ideal place to be at peace with yourself and nature.

Alfonso Tandazo is President and CEO at Surtrek Tour Operator.

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