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.
DAY 01 – ARICA
Reception at the airport in Arica and transfer to your hotel. Free afternoon.
DAY 02 – ARICA – SOCOROMA – CHUNGARA LAKE – PUTRE
Today, we will raise and shine to raise in altitude as we visit 4 ecological levels: valleys, desert, mountains and altiplano. We will marvel at the Geoglyphs, the storage units of the Incas, the Petroglyphs of Rosario, the Poconchile Church, the Cardones Gorge with its candlestick cacti, and Pukara de Copaquilla. We will continue upwards and onwards along the Inca pathways towards the mountains. From there, we will marvel at Socoroma in the bottom of a gorge. Our destination for today is the Chungara Lake, a small pool at the foot of the volcano Payachatas, located in the extensive area called the Lauca National Park. Here, we will find some of the most unique wildlife like Vicugnas, hawks and more that are native to the wetlands. It is an amazing opportunity for photos. We will visit the ceremonial village of Parinacota and get to know its 17th century church, made from stone and in an adobe style with a straw roof. We will descend to 3,500 meters above sea level to Putre. It is the largest town in the state but there are few people even here. It was an extremely important stop during the time of the Caravans that went between Potosí and Arica, the legendary route of Silver. Now it is the best place to adjust to the altitude. Boxed Lunch on route.
DAY 03 – PUTRE GALLATIRI, SALT FLAT OF SURIRE, 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 that are dedicated to breeding llamas and alpacas. 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 04 – COLCHANE, IQUIQUE
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 along with exploring their part in the Chilean flight for social justice. After our long journey, we will arrive in the city of Iquique and stay at a comfortable hotel. Boxed Lunch included.
DÍA 05 – IQUIQUE
At the time of your choice, transfer to the airport of Iquique to return to your destination.