Baquedano # 411 Arica - Putre
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Day 1. Arica – 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 – Thermal Baths of Jurasi – 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 – Salt Lake Surire – Isluga 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 – Border Pisiga – Tahua/Jirira
Transfer to the border station Pisiga in the morning, and after the formalities we will continue our tour through the deserts and the salt lakes in the south east of Bolivia. On this rout we will discover the Salt Lake Coipasa, one of the most important salt lakes of the country. Furthermore we will visit the Salinas of Garci Mendoza and finally we will get to the foot of the volcano Thunupa, tutelary god of the indigenous people in the region. Night in Tahua or Jirira.
Day 5. Salt Lake Uyuni – San Juan
Get to know the famous salt lake Uyuni, the biggest salt deposit in the world with an extension of more than 12.000 Km². This salt lake is of an enormous mineralogical richness, for example it contains 50% of the world reserve of lithium, a high valued metal. Also we will be visiting the Island Incahuasi and Lomo de Pescado that are full of giant cactuses which exist for more than thousand years. Here we are going to realize some small hikes where you get the possibility to reach the highes point of the islands to enjoy a great and fascinating view over the idyllic landscape of the salt lake and the surrounding mountains. Finally we will cross the desert Los Lipez. We will spend the night in the village San Juan.
Day 6. Desert Los Lipez – Lagoons and Flamingos
On the sixth day of our tour we continue our expedition to the south. On the way we will pass the region of the lagoons where we will stop at the lagoons Cañapa, Hedionda and Charkota. Here we can observe the abundant fauna that is full of Andean duck, geese, seagulls and over all three different species of flamingos (James, Chilean and Andean). In the afternoon we move on to the desert Siloli where we will arrive in the late afternoon. Night in the desert.
Day 7. Colored Lagoon – Geysers – Green Lagoon – Border Station Hito Cajon – San Pedro de Atacama
We start our tour in the morning to get to know the Colored Lagoon, containing the most important colony of Andean Flamingos of the National Reserve. Then we will get to the geysers Sol de Mañana (Sun of the Morning), a place where you can observe impressive geothermic activities. Moving on south you will get to know the Salted Lagoon where, depending on the time, you can take a bath in its thermal waters (38⁰C). Finally we will visit the White and Green Lagoons that are located on the foot of the volcano Lincancabur in the south-east of Bolivia. We are going to realize the transfer at the border station Hito Cajon and bring you to San Pedro de Atacama.
Day 8. San Pedro de Atacama – Geysers del Tatio – Moon and Death Valley – San Pedro de Atacama
The eighth 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.
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 9. San Pedro de Atacama – Salt Lake Atacama – Altiplanic Lagoons – San Pedro de Atacama
We leave San Pedro at 8:00am to start the second 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 10. San Pedro de Atacama – Airport Calama
We will finish the last day of our tour realizing the transfer to the airport in Calama according to the requested time. Here our circuit ends.
Live this marvelous experience full of history, culture and nature with indescribable landscapes like the salt lakes, colorful lagoons and impressive geysers in the highland of Chile and Bolivia.