The stark beauty of Chile's Atacama Desert

Over the next three days, the Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa, outside San Pedro de Atacama, provides a luxurious home base for my forays, mostly on guided tours, into the wild.

I am only steps outside the airport in Calama, Chile, when an awesome sight halts me in my tracks, said Chris Leadbeater at National Geographic Traveler. A perfect volcano, rising 4,330 feet to a pursed mouth circled by snow, looms ahead in the middle distance, "a geographical god among mortals."

“Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets...” ― Napoléon Bonaparte