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Discover the magic of the altiplano - the magnificent Highlands in the far north of Chile. At an average altitude of 13 000 ft above sea level you are surrounded by imposing snowcapped Andean volcanoes, standing guard over the starkly beautiful landscape. Despite the arid, inhospitable environment pre-Incan artefacts and well-preserved mummies prove that this region has been inhabited since about 5000 BC. Pre-Columbian fortresses, ancient settlements and petroglyphs are silent monuments of a bygone age when caravans of Incan traders used this route to carry goods from the coast up into the highlands.
The incomparable beauty of Lauca National Park forms the setting for this land lost in time with its magnificent scenery of exotic flora and wildlife - vicuñas, alpacas and Andean flamingos, among other species - it is a fascinating travel destination and a birdwatcher's paradise. Clear blue and emerald lakes, extensive plains, immense sparkling white salt deposits, hidden hot springs and amazing geysers compose this surreal landscape. Scattered across the altiplano are tiny rustic villages with picturesque colonial churches where indigenous Aymara shepherds graze their animals and grow their crops.
Then there is Chungara, the highest lake in the world. Despite its beauty the land is desolate and arid - harsh living conditions to which both humans and animals had to adapt in order to survive.
The "Far North" of Chile offers an unforgettable experience: enjoy the awesome landscapes of the Andes, the rich local history and culture of its people.
This journey starts in Arica, about 3½h flight time from Santiago.
Upon arrival at the airport you will be transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon we will have time to explore Arica and some of its more notable buildings such as the San Marcos Church or the former Customs Building - now a House of Art - designed by the famous French architect Eiffel who also gave Paris its unique landmark tower. Strolling across Colon Plaza and the surrounding shopping streets lets you absorb the ambiance and gives you a taste of modern life in this relaxed city by the sea. We will also have time to visit sites of historical interest such as the historic Morro headland, scene of one of the greatest victories of the Chilean Army during the Pacific War, and Azapa Valley, where we will visit the "Miguel de Azapa Archaeological Museum.". The museum collection houses sand-preserved mummies and pre-Incan relics dating back to 10.000 BC. We'll return to Arica where we will spend the night.
Today we will set off on the road to the highland village of Putre. On our way we will pass through the Lluta Valley where you will see many geoglyphs marking the old Inca Trail leading from the coast to the highlands. During a stop in Rosario we will take the time to see a wall of petroglyphs and later we will stop in Poconchile to visit the Church of San Gerónimo built in 1580 with its immense cemetery. As we get close to the Cardones Canyon we will have a chance to take a look at the gigantic Candelabras cacti scattered all over the terrain. Next, we will reach Fort Pukara de Copaquilla where we will have time to explore the grounds. We will take a short walk to the Aymara native village of Socoroma.
Continuing along the main
road we will reach Putre,
located 3.500 m / 11.483 ft
above sea level. Allow your body to adjust
to the altitude while
visiting the village - capital of the
Parinacota Province, which dates back
to pre-Hispanic times. You will
have time to see the traditional
colonial style houses, most of
them built with carved stone portals
and window frames dating back to
the 17th century. A few kilometers
beyond the village we can enjoy a
breathtaking view of the wide valley
of Putre beneath the massive,
snow-capped Putre Peaks. Picnic lunch
will be provided along the
way. For dinner, we will sample the local cuisine at a
nearby local restaurant. Overnight
(B, BL, D)
In the morning we will head for Lauca National Park to explore the spectacular scenery, exotic plants and wildlife. Despite the stark and arid environment, this National Park hoasts a suprisingly rich variety of species that are unique to the altiplano: Vicuñas, alpacas, rheas and Andean flamingos, and many more take refuge in this remote wilderness. In fact, this National Park is a well known birding paradise.
Later, we will
visit Parinacota village (4.392
m / 14.409 ft. above sea level)
with its beautiful church dating
back to the XVII century, and from there we will continue to Chungará Lake, the highest
lake in the world.
Here we will have time for a
walk before enjoying our packed
lunch on the shore of the lake.
We return to Arica in the afternoon.
Arrival at hotel and overnight.
Transfer to the airport to board
your connecting flight.
This program can be easily be extended to a 5 days / 4 nights itinerary with a full day visit to the Surire Salt Lake and National Park Las Vicuñas (Inti Wasi package).
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Rates may vary due to currency exchange rate fluctuations
For further information and booking inquiries please send us and e-mail.
Hotel Arica is the best in town; modern in style with spacious rooms. It is located right on the Pacific Coast, at the base of El Morro, the most famous hill in Arica, at 20 km / 12 mi from the airport. Hotel Arica has 114 rooms divided into suite, junior suite, superior, standard and cabins, most with ocean view. The rooms are equipped with cable TV, telephone, mini bar, music, safe deposit box. Additional services are: two swimming pools, tennis court, mini golf, restaurant and bar; easy access to the beach, room service.
This new and comfortable hotel was built in local Andean style, mostly using stones from the region. It is located on a plain just outside of Putre, offering great views across the Andes mountain range. It features 10 comfortable guest rooms with private bathroom. Hotel facilities also include cable TV, telephone and Internet access and parking.