Explora is sharing its passion for the natural wonders of South America with several luxury resorts in Chile, Peru and beyond

“When Pedro Ibáñez decided to build a luxury trekking base in remote Patagonia, everyone said it would never work,” says Michelle de Klerk, UK Sales and Marketing Manager for Explora. “Twenty six years later and now with four luxury bases throughout South America and a fifth on the way, Pedro’s ambition has been vindicated. Many have tried to copy it but none have been able to get close to the Explora experience.”

Pedro had a passion for the Chilean landscape. “He wanted to share this place with outsiders,” says Michelle. “To turn Chile into a traveller’s paradise while also protecting it. Once guests began to connect with the mountains, fauna and history, word spread.” Explora now has three properties in Chile – one in the deep south area of Patagonia, one in the Atacama Desert, and the only five-star hotel on Easter Island. There is also a property in Peru’s Valle Sagrado for those wanting to visit the historic Inca settlement of Machu Picchu. Later in 2020, Explora’s new Argentinian lodge will open on a private nature reserve near El Chaltén. “In each location,” says Michelle, “we built right in the heart of the land. It gives much better access for our guests
to reach places few have been before.”

Each hotel is simply designed with little artwork on the walls. “The picture windows tell their own story,” says Michelle, “be it the shining mountain peaks, lonely stretches of ocean, or the moonlike Atacama Desert. Explora offers its own brand of luxury where everything is included – from transfers to accommodation, expeditions, food and drink, everything. Except for wi-fi in the bedrooms. We want our guests to come into the common areas instead of sitting alone. Relaxing by the fire telling stories and drinking wine is one of life’s joys. Sometimes we forget this.”

Protecting these vulnerable environments is key to the Explora vision. “Each property is designed to have minimum impact: for example the Patagonia hotel is run completely by renewable energy. The love we have for the locations drives us to keep them unspoilt.” For those wishing to go further afield, Explora offers a special trip. “The Travesias are a deep exploration of remote places,” says Michelle. “Travelling by 4×4 to a new destination each day, guests stay at one of our hotels, a camp, or a small finca-style ranch built specially. There are excursions in each place – it is an amazing experience.”

There’s a wealth of choice for anyone wanting to explore. “Guests are likely to have whole landscapes to themselves,” says Michelle. “Explora guides have created several thousand miles of unique routes for all abilities. Our guides receive specialist training at the Explora School, where the six-month training programme is similar to a university course. This is why our guides can safely take travellers on boundary-pushing excursions. The most common feedback we get from guests is that they couldn’t believe how much they achieved. The strength and endurance within is always a surprise.”

The time and effort required to create these properties is staggering. “Explora owned the land in Peru for 15 years before the property was built,” says Michelle. “The building work took nine years to finish – every time digging commenced, Inca ruins and artefacts would be uncovered.” The plans would be altered and the process would repeat. “The garden has hardly been touched,” says Michelle. “It is so rich in Inca treasures that it could not be improved. Explora allows guests to stay in locations otherwise unreachable – this is what makes a trip so special.”