Baquedano # 411 Arica - Putre
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Day 1. Arica – Village of Socoroma – Putre
We leave the hotel and start our tour to the Terminal Agroprecuario Asoagro (Market) of Arica, but first of all we surprise you with a small trip through the fascinating city of Arica, known for its enjoyable warm climate. Get to know the undeniable beauty of its beaches and bays, reaching up to the Caves of Anzota, where men and women of the Chinchorro culture have lived for thousands of years. Finally you can enjoy a panoramic view over the city from the impressive Morro of Arica.
We continue our tour to the Terminal Asoagro. This typical market of Arica, located in the coastal desert, was created 19 years ago by its merchants and producers. On a walk through the alleys you can get to know the different kinds of fruits and vegetables that grow in the fertile valleys of the region (like the black olive of Azapa) and also the products that are imported from the neighboring countries. Afterwards, we continue to the prodigious Azapa Valley, which is popular for its enormous archaeological development with more than 10.000 years of history. Here you can find surprising geoglyphs like on the Cerro Sombrero (Hut Mountain) or the Geoglyphos de la Tropilla.
The following stop will be the Cerro Sagrado (Holy Mountain), a hill that also presents geoglyphs of mythological figures. The viewing point Las Llosyas is the best place to observe these beautiful geoglyphs. We are going to visit the Archaeological Museum of San Miguel of Azapa which contains some of the most relevant patrimonial relicts of the archaeology in Chile: The most ancient mummies in the world that belong to the Chinchorro culture and are more than 10.000 years old.
We will cross the Lluta Valley, natural exit of the highlands to the ocean. Here you will get to know the very first settlement of the valley, Poconchile. This valley is surrounded by fields of alfalfa and well known for its church, Iglesia de San Gerónimo, which was declared national monument, due to its impressive beauty preserved since the 17th century. Our way leads us to a canyon named after its vegetation, the candelabra cactuses that are typical for the desert. The branches are usually to find on the upper part of the plant, therefor the name.
Also, you will get to know one of the most important archaeological complexes in the area, the fort Pukara de Copaquilla, declared national monument and surrounded by an impressive canyon of about 150m of depth.
We will stop at the Tambo Sapahuira to have lunch, are you will get the possibility to try the typical food of the Chilean highlands. Our excursion through the north then continues to the village of Socoroma, outstanding for its architecture and its beautiful green terraces. The first day of the tour finishes with the arrival in Putre. Dinner and accommodation.
Day 2. Putre – National Park Lauca – Lake Chungara – Putre
We leave Putre in the morning. Our destination is the National Park Lauca with an expanse of 137.883 hectare, a biosphere reserve that covers the foothills and the highlands in the northeast of the region of Arica and Parinacota. To get to this wonderful world in the height, we start with a hike through the sector of the caves. In this district you can get to know the paradisiacal landscapes of the highlands, 4.300m over sea level, and you can observe the so called Vizcachas that come out at dusk and dawn. What makes this hike special is the mystical ambience that surrounds the region. It’s said that there are men living in this area that are over 9000 years old, and sometimes they are still seen, walking the ways of the highlands. They are said to be the very first visitors who appreciated the beauty of the landscapes.
Our journey continues to the viewing point of Chucuyo, which is located in the center of the National Park Lauca that contains a unique ecosystem and an extraordinary flora and fauna. Also, we will stop at the viewing point lagoon Cotacotani. This lagoon consists of different lakes and vulcano islands that are evidence of the high volcanic activity of this zone. The viewing point is placed in the middle of the wetlands and is perfect to observe the great variety of plants and animals, such as the parinas, ducks, vicuñas, vizcachas and taguas.
We will be moving on to one of the most beautiful attractions of the National Park Lauca, the lake Chungara, which is located over 4.500 meters over sea level and is one of the highest lakes in the world. It’s magical beauty and the marvelous reflection of the volcano Parinacota amaze thousands of tourists every year. On the other side of the lake you can see the famous volcanoes Payachata (twins), about which many legends are told due to their mystical appearance. For example people say, that they house an old treasure of the Inca, and others say that they are a couple in love.
Furthermore we will visit the village of Parinacota, which was declared national monument. Here you can discover the ancient architecture of the highlands. The old houses are all made of adobe and have a great historical value, for they contain relicts of the time of colonialism and are symbols of the Aymara-culture. At the end of our excursion we enjoy a bath in the thermal springs of Jurasi, located in the middle of a small canyon. They are well known for it’s medicinal purposes, for example they are recommended in case of rheumatism.
After enjoying all these different landscapes and regaining our strength with a warm thermal bath, we will return to Putre, where the second day of our tour ends. Dinner and afterwards accommodation.
Day 3. Putre – National Reserve of the Vicuñas – Salt Lake Surire – National Park Vulcano Isluga – Andean Villages – Colchane
The third day of the tour again starts in Putre, leaving for the National Reserve of the Vicuñas which as its name implies, was created to preserve the vicuña. The flora and fauna of this place are very attractive as they offer a great variety species, besides being surrounded by beautiful scenery of the Chilean Altiplano. Furthermore, in the National Reserve of the Vicuñas, you'll discover majestic sceneries and the towns of Ancuta and Guallatire located at 83 km of Putre at the foot of the volcano Guallatiri. Here you can enjoy the beautiful view of its peak white of snow.
The trip continues, reaching the most captivating destination of this tour, the salt lake Surire. It is located at 4,200 m above sea level. Surire was declared national monument and is characterized by its enormous majesty. The presence of salt deposits of intense white color contrast with the pure blue of the water of the lagoons, without doubt a delight to your eyes. The salt lake of Surire also preserves the existence of valuable species such as the ostrich (ñandu), flamingo, vicuña, alpaca and the llama, among others. The preciousness of this natural attraction is increased by the presence of different species of flamingos (3 of 6 species that exist) that may live here according to the extraordinary ecosystem. Around noon, after enjoying this wonderful ambience, we will have a delicious picnic at the thermal baths of Polloquere. Here you may enjoy a relaxing bath.
We will continue the tour to the Nationl Park Vulcano Isluga, located more than 4.000m over sea level, crossing the paths of the highlands, the desert and the pampa. The diversity of ecology is impressive and allows you to appreciate different landscapes within the park, such as the lagoon Arabilla, surrounded by small bofedales (wetlands) and forests of Queñua (typical tree of the highlands).
Furthermore we will be visiting the altiplanic communes of Enquelga and Isluga that are located in the middle of a bofedal where Llamas and Alpacas feed themselves. Also, the churches made out of adobe are very beautiful to see. Finally we will get to our destination Colchane, village at the border to Bolivia at an altitude of 3.750m that represents the Aymara-culture.
Day 4. Colchane – Desert – Pica
Breakfast at 08:00 am, then leaving Colchane in the morning. Close to the border on the flanks of the mountains you will discover the giant cactuses that reach about 10 meters and can only be found in this area at an altitude of more than 3.700m. We will get to the town of Cariquima, a different model of the ancient Aymara life where the central meeting point of the indigenous cultures is located. It is famous for many centuries for its handcrafts. Also we are going to visit Chusmiza, a paradise at 3.200m over sea level surrounded by marvelous nature.
Afterwards, you will get to know the biggest representation of a human being in the world: The Giant of the Atacama, located at the flanks of the Cerro Unita (Unita Mountain) some kilometers of the village Huara. This geoglyph attracts thousands of tourists every year and is considered one of the most impressive geoglyphs in the north of Chile. Appreciate this figure that measures 86 meters, representing a pre-inca human. There are many interpretations due to the mystic of this place, for example people say that the geoglyph represents a god of an ancient culture that habited the area around 1.000 and 1.400 a.C.
We will stop in the village of Huara, a place with excellent climatic and geographic conditions that convert it to a paradise for adventure- and eco-tourism. Here we will have lunch.
Continuing our trip we will arrive at the most impressive nitrate mines of Chile. The offices of Santiago Humberstone and Santa Laura were constructed in the middle of the driest desert in the world and were declared World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO in 2005. Theses ghost towns have been converted to a tourist attraction visited by hundreds of people every year. Rust and ruins symbolize the beauty, remoteness and silence of these ex-nitrate-mines.
We will finish the fourth day of our tour with the arrival around 19:00 at one of the most beautiful areas in the north of Chile, Pica. This oasis in the middle of the desert results very attractive for its unique ecosystem, containing different landscapes like the pampa, the highlands and the desert. Accommodation in the hotel.
Day 5. Pica – San Pedro de Atacama
We will leave Pica to visit one of the most important archaeological heritages, the geoglyphs pintados. These unique relicts of undeniable beauty contain more than 400 figures in 66 panels representing humans, animals, birds and abstract paintings. Without doubt, this representation of ancient culture will impress and fascinate you.
After appreciating this oasis full of contrasts, we are going to cross an impressive forest in the Atacama Desert, the National Reserve of the Pampa Tamarugal that has the privilege to be surrounded by precious salt lakes. This reserve includes more than 24 thousand hectare of artificial plantations of Tamarugo, and if you are lucky you can observe some reptiles that adapted to the climate and are able to survive the dryness and the heat of the desert.
Later we will pass the village of Quillagua, a small oasis located at the shore of the river Loa. Here you will find a church, a train station and the old customs building. According to the National Geographic, Quillagua is the most arid place in the world.
Finally, after enjoying all these marvelous landscapes with a high cultural interest, we will cross the desert to get to San Pedro de Atacama, where the fifth day of our tour ends.
Day 6. San Pedro de Atacama – Salt Lake of the Atacama – Altiplanic Lagoons – San Pedro de Atacama
We leave San Pedro at 8:00am to start the sixth day of our tour. Our destination are the altiplanic lagoons Miñiques and Miscanti, natural sceneries of an intense blue color. To get there, we will take the route to Toconao, a colonial village with an unique architecture. All its buildings are made out of stone from volcanoes, so called Liparitas, including its old colonial church with its impressive bell tower.
Moving on, we will get to see the great peaks of the cordillera of the Andes at 4.300m over sea level on our way to the lagoons Miscanti and Miñiques, which approximately were formed a million years ago due to the eruption of the volcano Meñiques. This area is part of the National Reserve of the Flamingos, surrounded by impressive mountains and volcanoes that create an incomparable landscape.
You will have the privilege to enjoy the most beautiful panoramic view over the Jere Valley, located in the surroundings of the village Toconao. The sweet water that flows through this valley helps to establish an extraordinary flora, and also you will have a great view on the Andes on the horizon, marked by the silhouette of the volcano Lincancabur, the symbol of San Pedro de Atacama.
The trip goes on to the biggest treasure of the driest desert in the world, the impressive Salt Lake of the Atacama. Without doubt, this enormous lake with tons of salt implies an incredible majesty and a unique natural ambience. The intense color contrast and the numerous small canyons in this area will help to convert your trip into a lifetime experience. The salt lake of the Atacama is one of the biggest in Chile and also includes the main flamingo reserve of the country, the National Reserve of the Flamingos.
We will visit the pre-cordilleran village Socaire, where you can enjoy a great view over the white sea of the salt lake. Also, this town is known for its hadcrafts mainly made out of cow or llama wool. Here you will have the possibility to taste the typical food of the region. Surprise yourself with the fantastic lagoon Chaxa, a place where ducks, alpacas, vicuñas, foxes and ostriches live. And of course, there are pink flamingos at the shore and flying at the sky of the highland over the salt lake of the Atacama.
Finally we will reach our destination, the fabulous lagoons of Miscanti and Miñiques that present a great variety of different colors. After experiencing this incredible places and enjoying a magic trip we will return to San Pedro de Atacama, one of the main tourist attractions in the world.
Day 7. San Pedro de Atacama – Geysers del Tatio – Moon Valley – Death Valley – San Pedro de Atacama
The seventh day of our tour starts at 4:00am from the hotel. We will enter the cordillera to live one of the most fascinating experiences on this tour. One of the most impressive spectacles that offers the Atacama Desert, the Geysers del Tatio. This geothermic field is from volcanic origin and located at more than 4.000m over sea level. Here water and steam shoot high in the air and reach a temperature of about 85 ºC in the morning hours between 6:00 and 7:00am. The field includes more than 40 active geysers that actually represent 8% of all the active geysers in the world. Also you will find some thermal baths and a natural pool. Breakfast at the geysers included.
During this day of the tour you will get to see enormous columns of steam, craters and fabulous thermal baths, a great diversity of colors and contrast that are only to find at the geysers del Tatio.
Afterwards we are going to visit the small village of Machuca, located at 80km of San Pedro de Atacama where you can observe the impressive flora and fauna under the pure blue sky. This village consists of about 20 houses and has only very few people living there who dedicated themselves to agriculture and cheese production. Later, when we have enjoyed the beauty of this small place, we will return to San Pedro de Atacama around 12:00 o’clock.
In the afternoon:
San Pedro de Atacama – Moon Valley – Death Valley – San Pedro de Atacama
In the afternoon our tour will continue at 16:00 o’clock towards the cordillera of the salt. This mountain range was formed millions of years ago and always has been exposed to the rain, the wind and the sun. It’s a geological phenomenon full of impressive forms made out of salt, plaster and adobe. From a viewing point you will get to appreciate these natural figures covered by a layer of salt.
We will move on to one of the most beautiful natural monuments in the world, the Moon Valley, located close to the cordillera of the salt, 4km west of San Pedro de Atacama. While visiting this mystic valley you will get to see its enormous and impressive sand dunes. The beauty of this place is undeniable, surrounded by small mountains and geological forms that have been created by the wind. Without doubt, you will be surprised by this beautiful paradise that was declared natural monument.
After appreciating this incredible place with its forms and figures of salt we will visit the Death Valley, where we will discover incomparable and majestic landscapes. This valley is another attraction of the driest desert in the world and its mystical ambience is just indescribable. Come and live the magic of this place yourself, it will be an unforgettable experience in your life.
Continuing the tour we will get to the surprising salt statues, known as “Las tres Marias” (“The three Maries”). They are formed out of adobe and salt and are one of the most valued corners of the planet. It results incredible believing that this marvelous landscape was only created by the impact of the time and the wind. Here we are going to realize a hike of about 30 minutes to the fabulous salt caves, enormous natural statues out of salt crystals that also have been formed by the time due to the high pressure and the lack of humidity in this desert.
One more time you will have the opportunity to enjoy the mystical desert while watching the sunset from the Great Dune in the Moon Valley. The beauty of the surprising geological figures, the majesty of the colors, the sound of the wind and the sun setting on the horizon will certainly touch you. After this probably most remarkable experience of the tour we will return to San Pedro de Atacama at around 20:30 o’clock.
Day 8. San Pedro de Atacama – Airport Calama
We will finish the last day of our excursión “Tour through the North of Chile and the Chilean Highlands” with the transfer to the airport of Calama at the requested time. Here our tour ends.