Baquedano # 411 Arica - Putre
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Deserts, oases, warm beaches, mountain peaks covered with snow. The landscapes of this area have one thing in common – their overwhelming beauty. The Great North reaches from Arica in the north to the region of Antofagasta, its limit in the south.
The most arid zone of the country
The Great North includes the region of Arica and Parinacota, the region of Tarapacá and the region of Antofagasta. It is the driest area in Chile and the place, where the Atacama-desert is located. Nevertheless, there are also valleys, oases (like the valley of Azapaod the Oasis Pica), canyons and salt lakes to find in this district. The mining industry plays a big role in the north, especially the extraction of copper.
The north has an enormous biodiversity, which representative species are protected in parks and national reserves such as Lauca, Isluga and Salt Lake Surire.
Its most famous cities, Arica, Iquique and Antofagasta, are located on the coast and offer harbors and beautiful beaches. The climate conditions in the Great North allow the development of marvelous landscapes, such as the surroundings of San Pedro de Atacama where we can find the Moon Valley with its incredible formations of rocks and sand, the salt lake of the Atacama with a surface of 300.000 hectare, the geysers del Tatio and numerous thermal baths like Mamiña or Puritama.
Also, the north is full of archaeological sites. The geoglyphs of the mountain Pintado, Azapa or Lluta, petroglyphs, wall paintings and the forts of Quitor and Lasana represent the development of the pre-hispanic cultures in this area.
Other treasures of the country are the old nitrate mines of Santa Laura and Humberstone in the region of Tarapacá and the nitrate mines of María Elena and Baquedano in the region of Antofagasta. These settlements have an impressive history marked by the extraction of nitrates in the end of the 19th century and the beginnings of the 20th century.
Calama also has a great importance in the mining industry. The biggest active copper mine Chuquicamata is located in the surroundings of the city.
- In the Region of Arica and Parinacota there are three protected areas, preserved by the organization Conaf: the National Park Lauca, the National Reserve Las Vicuñas and the National Monument Salt Lake Surire.
- In the Region of Tarapacá there are two protected areas: the National Park Volcano Isluga and the National Reserve Pampa of Tamarugal.
- In the Region of Antofagasta there are two national parks: Pan de Azúcar (sugar loaf) and Llullaillaco. Furthermore there are three national reserves: La Chimba, Alto Loa and Los Flamencos; and the National Monument La Portada.
National Monument Salt Lake Surire.
The salt lake was declared national monument in 1983. It is located in the commune of Putre at an altitude of 4.200 m over the sea level. The salt lake is the geographic highlight in this area, however the mountain Oquealla (4.322 m.o.s.l), the rivers Surire and Blanco and its lagoons also strike the eye. The vegetation is invaded by cactuses and bofedales (wetlands), and the fauna counts of many flamingos, lamas, vicuñas and a great variety of birds.