Critical reception for The Atacama Experience was generally favorable. Michael G. Nastos states in his Allmusic review, "Considering Ponty's most recent work...this recording is not only a welcome change of pace, but a return to the great music that made Ponty an important figure in contemporary music. This one is recommended with no hesitation, and is the brilliant violinist's best effort in nearly 30 years." In his All About Jazz review, John Kelman called it "...a welcome return to form. Thoroughly engaging, it possesses the enduring compositional depth and unmistakable solo acumen that's kept Ponty's name alive, even during years when he's been away from the public eye."