This is our
16th year with this popular, comprehensive tour
which includes pre-Hispanic cultural sites, the
precordillera of the Andes with its surprising diversity of
birds and native plants, covering up to 7 nature reserves and
6 historic national monuments. The
route is flexible; there is an optional day in a small fishing village
where fur seals, sea lions, and
near-shore birds feed in the rich upwelling of the Humboldt
This trip includes nearly
3 full days of high elevation, so we encourage a "free
day" in Putre, you
won't have to pay for a tour or a guide
for that day. There are many interesting things to do
around Putre. Also offered are routes that focus more
intensively on Parque Nacional Lauca that do not
include nights in the altiplano, please inquire.
Depending on the season, we can focus on wildflowers and
cacti, but check out our more concentrated wildflower
should refer to our birding page
for more specific birding routes.
are private and reservations
desert history & culture, Altiplano wildlife, Coastal marine
3 nights or 5 days, 4 nights. Start Arica
1 day naturalist guide service, 3-4 days with Chilean
Spanish-speaking guide, or all 4-5 days with naturalist guide
Day 1: Arica: archaeological museum,
mummies, many geoglyphs, hummingbird garden with
possible sighting of the rare and declining Chilean Woodstar.
Later: Reserva Natural Municipal Desembocadura del Río Lluta
to see the array of estuary birds and intact native
vegetation. Afternoon: Atacama Desert and the Monumento Natural Quebrada de Cardones,
candelaris in addition to 6-7 other cacti species at
higher elevations along the way. Monumento
Nacional Pukara de Copaquilla, then probably many
Guanaco. Pueblo of Socoroma and short hike to see some of
the intact paving on the Inca trail that used to connect the
villages. Possible Andean Deer. Overnight Putre.
Insert "free acclimatization day" here
Day 2: UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Parque Nacional Lauca
B. Knapton as your guide. Lago Chungara, Monumento
National Iglesia de Parinacota with the haunting frescoes.
Massive Chucuyo cushion bog, many birds, camelids, bog
wildflowers. Spotting scope provided for the
best wildlife viewing. Optional bath at hot springs.
Overnight in Putre
for an extra night of acclimatization before continuing on
through the parks.
Day 3: Reserva Nacional Las Vicuñas,
Ramsar Site Monumento
Natural Salar de Surire, hotsprings, active volcano, vicuñas,
rheas, flamingos, tinamou, caserios. Parque
Nacional Isluga, Polylepis tarapacana copse, Isluga church. If desired, short
walks can be interspersed throughout the day. Overnight
Day 4: Giant Echinopsis
cactus and other cacti not present in Lauca,
bizarre geological formations, remote pueblos. Descend through
absolute desert, visit enormous geoglyph at Cerro Unita. Reserva
Nacional Pampa del Tamarugal to see the Tamarugo Conebill and
the Prosopis plantations, then down to end tour in
Or add a 5th day of tour.....
Day 4: Same as above......then down to sea
level for the evening in a fishing village.
Day 5: Morning beach walk to most northerly of
Chile's fur seal colonies. Photograph fur seals, sea lions,
boobies, pelicans, endemic Chilean Seaside-cinclodes.
Then an excellent seafood lunch. If heading back north
to Arica, we visit the
famous English cemetery where James Humberstone, one of the
principal nitrate barons, is buried. Continue north
through the ghostly, barren Atacama Desert, stopping for
superb geoglyphs along the way and periodically descending into
the deep quebradas that were carved by massive amounts of
water long ago. Tour ends in Arica or Iquique.
Vicuña population now
>18,000 in the extreme north of Chile
hot mud outdoor spa,
still undeveloped for the time being.....
hike to marine mammal colonies, lots of
plus archaeological sites
Note fellow chasing
errant llama while his dog stands guard; nursing
mother in foreground; and an obviously "male"
camelid, front left.
good views possible,
with no threat to the fur seals which are located on
optional 10 km hike to pinturas "cave paintings" in
every altiplano caserio has its