The latest James Bond 007 movie may give a huge boost to northern Chile as an unusual luxury destination . Its happened before that the movie has made the country, just ask the Kiwis what the Lord of the Rings trilogy did for New Zealand tourism.
The latest 007 James Bond features locations from Italy to Panama, but some of the more interesting landscapes came from the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile. In 007′s Quantum of Solace, northern Chile stands in for the action taking place in the water-starved Bolivian landscape. Cast and crew stayed at the small town of Antofagasta and travelled for up to two hours to reach the filming locations. Scenes set at Perla de las Dunas in Bolivia were shot at the La Silla Observatory which is located at 1800m to take advantage of the crystal clear atmosphere that the Atacama desert is renowned for.
Why do I call the Atacama desert a luxury destination? You can see from the images that the movie-makers didn’t need to digitally enhance the barrenness of the scenery. Well if you haven’t make it to Antarctica yet: then the high antiplano of the Atacama are the next best thing. Its no accident that the some of the world’s best astronomical observatories are in the Atacama: the desert is high, has very few thermals and no pollution. And if you think you have seen stars in the northern hemisphere, come to Chile and understand exactly what the “Milky Way” means – you can walk the desert by star light alone in the Atacama, the stars are that bright.
So is there anything for you here if you are not a student of the desolate landscape or astronomy? Well Travel+Leisure have named the Tierra Atacama Hotel and Spa on their list of best hotels for 2008. The describe the Tierra Atacama Hotels as:
“this 32-room adventure hotel in the Atacama Desert is one of the most ambitious new design statements in South America. The owners, along with a team of architects, photographers, and a landscape painter, were inspired by the surrounding landscape. But rather than building in the traditional manner, they used unorthodox materials (plates of oxidized iron, sandblasted glass) alongside adobe, rammed earth, and shale for a fresh take on desert style….
So the hotel is interesting, but the most important feature is that the Tierra Atacama employs a staff of expert guides who will guide you high up remote volcanoes and show you some of the most stunning lagoons and geysers and landscapes in the world: and for this post the pictures are worth more than my words – enjoy!