Hippocamelus antisensis near Putre.
Andean Deer, Taruka, Huemul, listed by the IUCN as
population in Chile might be around 1,000 individuals, based
on census data from Sielfeld et al. (1988)."
photo copyright B. Knapton
is the best time
to come to Atacama Chile? And what to bring.
time by activity:
taking into account the weather the best months are March, April,
early May, then August through December.
Choose the drier months of mid-March through
depends on the target species or landscapes desired.
By far the most interesting period at this latitude is from March
through May for the desert flora. And then for the altiplano, October through
also interesting, just before the rainy season. See Alpine plants of Lauca
in December, Desert Flora,
and our suggested itineraries for
plant trips. Throughout the year you'll
find one or more species of cacti in bloom, although all species
don't bloom at the same time.
Best time to come by weather:
The rainy season is
usually in January and February. 2011 was quite rainy and
the moisture was perfect for
wildflowers. In Putre the rainy season is characterized by
sunny mornings often with afternoon thunderstorms, rain, fog. In the altiplano the
mornings are normally windless, but by 2 pm the storm clouds blow in from Bolivia and
the afternoons may have bouts of fierce thunderstorms and snow or hail (="Bolivian
winter"). Professional photographers should take heed that they
may lose their afternoon and possibly their morning shots in this
time period. Birding, botanizing, and photography are great
February and early March if you have time to work
around the weather.
What to bring
on your trip to Parque Nacional Lauca:
lotion, sun hat and glasses
ask if your doctor recommends medicine, ie Diamox, and read about Gingko
dust protectors for cameras
batteries if they are part of your gear
altimeter or GPS
wind jacket, fleece jacket, long
underwear in June to August, (silk is good).
For those with a digital camera
charger the electricity is 220. If you are touring with or using
our guide service, bring a couple of blank CDs or a DVD and Barb will back
off your digital photos to free up memory cards.
administration cost" charity:
If you'd like to bring or send a present for village children, we suggest
kids' books. Some rural kids grow up here with very few
books in the house. English, French, or German to Spanish picture
dictionaries are perfect. The next books we receive will go to
Visviri, near the point where the borders of Chile, Bolivia, and
after the rains there is a profusion of flowers,
singing birds, and sunny days. The upper portion of the
Atacama desert is frequently in bloom in February to May.
If you're interested in any certain plant species or communities,
let Barb know so she can help plan the best time for your
trip. For instance the incredible tiny altiplano bog orchid Aa
nervosa is in full bloom in April. From April to December there is
seldom precipitation in Putre, although in August there may be a week or so of snow
in up in the parks, making the side roads muddy and impassable. Mid-May to the end of June usually has the coldest nights in Putre (about -5 C) and in
the altiplano (could get to -20 C). But because we are situated so close to the
equator, the sun's warmth dependably arrives at about 8 am. July through December are the high season months for adventure/trekking tourism,
given the sunny days and lack of rain. Good time for hiking
around Putre to sites of cave art and to neighboring pueblos following ancient
trails that once connected the altiplano of Bolivia with the Arica
valleys. This is a good season for people who like to photograph
altiplano Cumulopuntia cactus flowers, camelids,
and birds. In July-August
one can see very young flamingos and in Putre the Ornate Tinamous and ground doves are
nesting. In October to December you might be lucky enough to see the
male Puna Rheas trailed by 20-30