We’re gearing up for the next Atelier Doré x Mr & Mrs Smith retreat – this time to Chile’s Atacama Desert. The trip, called The Art of Self Discovery, is a weeklong experience filled with yoga, meditation and star gazing, with luxury lodge Alto Atacama serving as homebase. But while the retreat doesn’t happen till November, we’re already pondering the packing list.
To get a feel for everything we should stuff, er, rather, mindfully place into our luggage, we picked the brains of the trip’s holistically honed-in hosts, including the fabulous Garance Doré (photographer, illustrator, author and one of our favourite travel companions), Tashi Dos Santos (astrologer and tarot card decoder) and Susan Piver (meditation master and bestselling author). Here’s what we’d bring on this South American adventure…
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
Chill out on the flight with a Chilean novel. Isabel Allende’s first book, The House of the Spirits nabbed Best Novel of the Year in Chile in 1982, so it’s a local classic.
‘I want to actually explore the desert, which means I need sturdy footwear (not sandals!). I’d like to bring a pair of boots with good grip that are ankle-high, so as not to get sand in my shoes.’ – Garance Doré
Gucci Flashtrek high-top sneaker
Do you need to wear Gucci in the desert? Probably not. Are these the chicest hiking boots we’ve seen? Absolutely. Our advice: invest in footwear you’ll actually wear again.
Clare V Netty mesh bag
A packable pouch like this one is ideal for carrying a book to the pool or your water bottle and room key to yoga class.
‘Hydration is key in the desert, and I’m going with a bright yellow water bottle to make a statement about travelling consciously.’ – Tashi Dos Santos
Bkr Gigi 1L water bottle in opaque lime yellow
A bright bottle will remind you to keep sipping that H20, which is your best bet at battling the Atacama’s heat and altitude.
Here’s a multi-purpose accessory: use a bandana to tie up your hair, or wrap it around your neck to shield your skin from sand.
‘My favourite maxi dress will be key on this trip. That way I’ll look elegant while sitting on the floor in meditation.’ – Susan Piver
Love Binetti maxi dress
You’ll get a lot of mileage out of a kaftan or maxi dress – it works as a pool cover-up, a comfy garb for meditation (as Susan says!), plus you can dress it up with strappy sandals and jewellery for dinner.
Adidas by Stella McCartney Train high-neck fleece jacket
Even the desert gets cool at night, so layers are key. A fleece folds up easily and will come in handy for late-night stargazing.
‘I’m packing a long-sleeve knit. The Atacama is known for beautiful clear skies at night, but when the sun goes down the temperature drops drastically.’ – Garance
Everlane soft cotton boatneck top
If you’re headed to the Valley of the Moon to watch the sunset, you’ll appreciate the extra warmth from this cosy cotton top.
Haight Waist-Tie swimsuit
Match the region’s terracotta-coloured Salt Mountains with swimwear in an earthy tone. Plus, Haight is a Brazilian label, so you’ll arrive with some South American flair.
‘A jet crystal will naturally help me deal with the higher altitude.’ – Tashi
Take a cue from Tashi and rock these rocks in your carry-on for protection from altitude sickness. Jet stones are also said to deflect negative energy – bonus.
‘I’ve gotta bring Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chogyam Trungpa. It’s the book I go to for inspiration whenever I teach.’ – Susan
Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chogyam Trungpa
In his tome, Trungpa tackles courage, self knowledge and human goodness. And let’s be honest, if there’s any chance of reading a book and transforming into a ‘sacred warrior’, we’re game.
‘I plan to bring a stylish, yet practical hat to shield my face from the sun during the day, and to warm my head come night.’ – Garance
Sensi Studio jacquard-trimmed two-tone Panama hat
Technically, the colourful jacquard trim on this topper is from Ecuador, but we think it’ll still fly in Chile.
‘I’m bringing a bodhi tree leaf from Bodh Gaya, India to offer to the land in the Atacama.’ – Tashi
Dr Roebuck’s Noosa Nourishing Crème Cleanser
Even if you don’t have a sacred tree leaf, you can still make an offering… to your skin, that is. This hydrating cleanser is packed with calendula and oat leaf to give your complexion sweet relief from the Atacama’s dry climate.
Clarins Sun Care Oil Spray SPF 30
And speaking of hydration, an oil sunscreen protects from the sun while also nourishing skin. Plus, you can spritz this spray into your hair to also shield your follicles from UV rays.
‘I’m packing my tarot cards, but that goes without saying.’ – Tashi
Atelier Doré Carnet de Dessin notebook
The desert is a place of self discovery – just don’t forget all that newfound wisdom after the flight home. Bring a journal to keep track of every moment of inspiration, each constellation you spotted in the sky, and the name of every last Chilean wine you guzzled throughout the trip.