National Parks and Reserves
The Altiplano is a large plain between two mountain ranges that runs through four countries: Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Argentina. The materials expelled by these volcanoes filled the surface of the mountain range, forming the plains that have given this sector the name of altiplano.
Discover National Parks and Reserves
7 DAYS / 6 NIGHTS
Itinerary at a Glance
Day 1, Arica: Transfer from Arica Airport to Hotel in Arica
Day 2, Arica, Socoroma and Putre: We will begin our journey in Arica, one of the direst cities in the world. Here, we will visit the buildings designed by Gustave Eiffel, the beach, fishing dock, and gain a magnificent view from the “Morro”, or Mountain, of Arica. We will continue towards the Azapa Valley, a long and wide oasis where we will marvel at the cultural, historical, natural and archaeological richness. We will visit the museum that houses a vast variety of Pre-Colombian artwork and the Mummies of Chinchorro – the oldest in the world! Afterward, we will travel to higher heights. We will climb from valleys to deserts to mountain ranges to the altiplano. On route, we will see Geoglyphs, storage unties of the Incas, the Petroglyphs of Rosario, the Church of Poconchile, the Cardones Gorge with its candlestick cacti, and Pukara de Copaquilla. We will continue raising in altitude towards the mountains and along the Inca paths that will take us to Socorma. Our destination today is Putre, at 3,500 meters above sea, it is the largest town in the vast state but there are still very few people living here. It was an extremely important stop in the last century as the caravans made their way between Potosí and Arica, the legendary route of Silver. Now, it is known as the best stop to adjust to the altitude. Boxed Lunch on Route.
Day 3, Putre, Lauca and Parinacota: We will head towards the Lauca National Park, an extensive protected area where llamas, alpacas, vicugna, and a wide variety of Andean birds thrive. This is a dream location for any bird watcher or wildlife fanatic.
We will get to know this beautiful natural landscape through our walk in the altiplano. We will walk through Cotacotani and marvel at its beauty as we stroll beside wetlands while enjoying the sun and the light, fresh breeze that ruffles the short grass. We will breathe some of the freshest air as we travel along the “roof of the world”. Later on, we will visit the Aymara ceremonial town of Parinacota and visit its 17th century church. It was built of stone in an adobe style with a straw roof. To top off our trip, we will head to the Chungara Lake, 4,517 meters above the sea, its crystal blue and freezing water reflect the massive volcanos of Payachatas, Finally, we will return to Putre, visiting the Jurasi Thermal to relax in the its toasty waters before we get back to town.
Day 4, Putre, Suriri and Colchane: The altiplano and the mountain range of the Andes await us. The sun will accompany us from the early morning, when we will leave Putre. We will then make our way towards the Salt Flat of Suriri, land of the Vicugnas, alpacas, short grass and pumas. The few people the inhabit this area live in small towns and work as llama and alpaca breeders. To see this in action, we will visit Ancuta, Viluvio, and Guallatiri, with its recently restored church. These small towns are surrounded by and interminable prairie land that stretches out in all directions, only interrupted by the Andes Mountain where we will see the, still active, Volcano of Guallatiri puffing its typical smoke. In the waters of the salt flat of Suriri, we will find hundreds of Andean flamingos raising their young, the flight of these birds creates a stunning detail to the already beautiful landscape. To the South of the lake are the lagoon Aravilla and Enquelga. From here, we will start to see the giant Volcano Isluga. Despite the wide reach of Catholicism in the altiplano, the Aymaras, the native people of the area, have not forgotten their traditions. We will visit the small town of Isluga, one of the best-preserved examples. We will arrive in Colchane, bordering with Bolivia, where we will relax in our hotel and wait for a tasty supper.
Day 5, Colchane, Unita, Humberstone and Pica: Leaving behind the altiplano, we will head from Colochane towards the low-lands where the desert sun will give us new energy. We will pass Chuzmiza and its small but attention-grabbing terraces for agriculture. Our next stop will be to see the Giant of Atacama, an 86-meter-tall figure drawn on the Unita Hill by the native people of the area. It is the largest Geoglyph in the North of Chile and represents a chef or god of the Tiwanaku culture. He holds a large cane and decorates his knees with feathers, both of which serve to inform us of his status.
Later on, we will learn that, at the start of the 20th century, there was an abundance of salt residue (salitre) that enriched the coastal towns of the desert as the world market demanded the natural resource. However, with the invention of synthetic salt residue, the mines for the mineral were abandoned and dozens of towns were abandoned. Two of these such towns were Humberstone and Santa Laura. We will explore their streets, theatre, market and church. These towns had a profound impact on the cultural history and the socio-political dynamic for social justice in Chile.
Finally, we will arrive at the Oasis of Pica, the largest and most fertile in the Atacama Desert. Here, caravans of llamas and chasquis, Inca messengers, converged from the four cardinal points to exchange of products from the land and the sea. Boxed lunch on route.
Day 6, Pica, Pintados and Iquique: We will start our morning off by exploring Pica, a paradise in one of the driest areas in the world. We will see Geoglyphs, drawings, that adorn the sides of the Northern hills o Chile from Arica to Loa. You we be able to easily see them by foot as we walked along the ancient routes of the desert. Some of the drawing were used to signal the presence of water close-by. They say that the birds, lizards, monkeys and snakes are aligned with water gods. Back on the road we will go to Pintados, where we will have a stop to see the hills with 60 panels of 390 figures of humans and animals and geometric shapes made on the ancient trails of the area. Iquique awaits us in the afternoon. We will explore the city that is a mix of salty seas and dry desert before we rest at our hotel for one final night. Boxed lunch included.
Day 7, Iquique: Transfer from Hotel to Airport at Convenient Time.