DAY 01: IQUIQUE – NITRATE TOWNS - ISLUGA NATIONAL PARK - ENQUELGA: -COLCHANE
An early departure takes us on a journey to the magical beauty of the Atacama, the most arid desert in the world, where we search the routes followed by ancient civilizations that inhabited this vast area of northern Chile. Visit the nitrate ghost towns of Santa Laura and Humberstone. In Santa Laura, the processing plant and smokestacks are still visible and in Humberstone, the town itself is the main attraction. Notable attractions in Humberstone are its theatre and church, both built of Oregon pine, and its hotel, which boasts a full sized swimming pool, built of iron. It takes only a little imagination to see the splendour of this important period in the Chile’s history. Leaving these ghost towns behind us, we continue on through the desert to the tiny desert Huara village, where we take a detour to visit Cerro Unita and the Atacama Giant, an 86mt high geoglyphs, one of the largest figures made in pre-Hispanic times and illustrating the figure of a man with feathered head dress. Continuing our ascent, we found our self with wonderful geologic formation with the most amazing contrasts of colour. Arrive at the border village of Colchane located at 212 km from Iquique at 3.730 m.s.n.m. Dinner and Accommodation on a basic residential.
DAY 02: COCHANE – ISLUGA - ENQUELGA - LAS VICUÑAS N. RESERVE- SALAR DE SURIRE - PUTRE.
On an early departure the first place to visit is Isluga village, close to the foot of the active volcano of the same name. The most notable feature of Isluga is its 17th Century church, considered by many as the most beautiful church on the altiplano. This area of the park is rich on birds and plant species, creating some truly unbeatable landscapes. Visit the village of Enquelga, an ancient and traditional village in which its inhabitants (Aymaras), keep the same lifestyle as they have done for centuries. We continue through the Andean past small queñua forests and some breathtaking scenery to enter Las Vicuñas National Park and arrive at one of the most stunning areas of the altiplano, the Salar de Surire (Surire Salt Lake). The Salar de Surire shows us a unique panorama, with a number of emerald lagoons and dotted liberally with pink (flamingos) and surrounded by snow capped volcanoes. The salar is a nature sanctuary where you find different animals and bird life such as ñandu (lesser rhea), flamingos, and tinamous. Visit the Polloquere hot springs. Box Lunch on route. After lunch we explore the salar and we have time to see its bird life, especially the flamingos, before continuing our journey, passing the Guallatire village, close to the foot of an active volcano of the same name Arrival to Putre, capital of the Province of Parinacota.
Dinner and accommodation at the Hosteria in Putre
DAY 03: PUTRE – LAUCA N. PARK AND LAKE CHUNGARA - ARICA.
After breakfast in the hotel, we head towards Lauca National Park, now declared by UNESCO as a World heritage reserve .Lauca National Park is a nature lover’s paradise with an impressive concentration of wildlife in a relatively small area. The park has something for everyone; animals, birds, ancient Andean cultures, handicrafts and some of the most breathtaking scenery of the north of Chile. On arrival at Lake Chungara, at 4,517m altitude, one of the world’s highest, we find the unique panorama of this emerald colored lake surrounded by snow capped volcanoes reaching easily the 6,000m in height. The area is covered with alpacas, llamas, vicuñas and vizcahas. Settled within this majestic landscape is the tiny Andean village of Parinacota, now declared national monument, still inhabited by its native people (Aymaras) who keep their ancient and traditional ways. We return to Putre for lunch before beginning our descent back to sea level. On the way we visit the Socoroma and Zapahuira villages, El Tambo, The Pukara de Copaquilla, and the Lluta Valley geoglyphs. Lunch on the route. Return to Arica. Transfer to hotel.