Sacred Earth Travel - Sustainable Nature and Adventure Travel

Magic of the Altiplano, Chile adventure travel


Magic Highlands of Chile - Volcanoes, Deserts, National Parks

Northern Chile MapDiscover 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.

Arica, Azapa Valley and Miguel de Azapa Archeological Museum, Geoglyphs, Church of San Geronimo in Poconchile, Fort Pukara, Lauca National Park, Chungara Lake

This itinerary can be operated all year round, however, there may be heavy rains between January and April, which can significantly affect road conditions, forcing us to alter the itinerary if necessary.

Weather conditions vary widely between Arica and the Altiplano. On the coast temperatures are moderated by the sea, but in the sierra temperatures fluctuate between 30°C during the day and 0° at night. In the ALtiplano it is generally much cooler with temperatures between 10°C and 5° at night. Rainy season ('Bolivian winter') is between Jan. to Apr. and rains can be heavy, making roads impassable at times.

Easy - There is nothing particularly demanding or difficult about this itinerary, except that some places are at high altitude making it generally harder to move around. Not recommended for people with respiratory conditions or heart disease.
Magic of the Altiplano itinerary - 4days/3nights

Day 1: Arica & Azapa Valley

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.

Day 2: Arica - Putre

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 in Putre.
(B, BL, D)

Volcanoes, saltflats and high altitude lagoons - stark beauty of the northern Chilean highlands

Day 3: Putre - Lauca National Park - Arica

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.
(B, BL)

Day 4: Arica

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).

Rates valid to Apr 30th, 2017 per person

pool service private service
Single US$1798 US$1980
Double US$950 US$1365
Single Supplement US$185 US$215
2 overnights with breakfast in Arica (first/last night), 1 overnight with breakfast and dinner in Putre, transfers and excursions with driver and bilingual guide, entrance fees, lunch box included in full day excursions.
Not Included:
International or domestic air fares, meals not specified in the itinerary, personal expenses, tips or gratuities, travel insurance of any kind
Both light and warm clothes; trekking shoes; sun hat, woolly hat, windbreak, lip balm, strong sun-block; sun glasses; swimsuit

Rates may vary due to currency exchange rate fluctuations

For further information and booking inquiries please send us and e-mail.


Hotel Arica

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.

Hotel Qantati, Putre, Chile

Hotel Qantati**

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.