Baquedano # 411 Arica - Putre
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This circuit was especially designed for the tourists who arrive from La Paz, Bolivia, and want to enter Chile via the border crossing Chungara.
Day 1. Chungara (Border Control) – National Park Lauca – Putre
We will leave the border crossing Chungara for the fabulous 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 get to Putre, where the first day of our tour ends. Dinner and afterwards accommodation.
Day 2. Putre – Salt Lake Surire – Putre
The tour starts from the beautiful town of Putre, capital of the province of Parinacota in the XV region of Arica and Parinacota. This village, an example of high Andean culture, also is an excellent place to stay before taking any tour, to have a good acclimatization to the altitude and enjoy fascinating tours.
The tour continues to 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 Vicuña, you'll discover majestic sceneries and the towns of Ancuta, consisting of just 5 houses 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 journey 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 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. Finally, when we have gained new strength with a thermal bath, we will return back to Putre, the place that opened us the door to this incredible world in the height.
Day 3. Putre – Andean Villages – Arica
The third day of our tour starts at 08:00 in the morning, when the sun rises over the impressive mountains. We leave Putre and visit the location of Socoroma, outstanding for its architecture and its beautiful green terraces. It’s beautiful church San Francisco is made of out adobe and together with the cultivated terraces it converts this village into a fascinating corner of the Altiplano.
We will continue our tour to the village of Belén, a lovely town located at 3.240m over sea level that is one of the oldest settlements in the Chilean Highlands. Belén is characterized by being the only village founded by the Spanish on the way of the Inca. The beautiful landscapes that surround it are full of pasture land and cultivated fields with the aromatic oregano. Also, Belén has a church constructed years ago in the Andean colonial style, that will certainly impress you.
Movin on, we will visit Lupica and Saxamar, small towns in the pre-cordillera of Arica and Parinacota, located at more than 3.000m over sea level. Here the rain allows the growing of fascinating vegetation that consequently attracts a great variety of altiplanic animals, such as Guanacos and Vicuñas. The church of Saxamar was constructed in 1986 and it contains all the relicts that once were stored in the old temple which was destroyed more than 100 years ago. The history and beauty of this place makes it an attractive place to visit.
Furthermore you will get the opportunity to enjoy the peace and majesty of Ticnamar, a location that once was flooded by the river with the same name but is nowadays is restored. It is full of mystical places that still represent the ancient Aymara-culture. We will finish the last day of our tour and take the Panamericana to Arica, where our circuit ends.
Live an unique experience, visit singular landscapes and get to know the Aymara-culture. Enjoy unforgettable moments while exploring ancient churches or discovering captivating sceneries. Your journey to Chile will be an unforgettable adventure.