Atacama Desert & Altiplano

Trekking Adventure in the Andes of Northern Chile

Duration

13 days from Arica / to Calama

Activity
  • 5 days trekking
  • 2 x 5000 climbs
Lodging
  • 3 nights refugios
  • 9 nights hotel
Meals
  • 12x breakfast
  • 4x lunch box
  • 3x dinner
Price

from 3.290 USD

Thank you for this outstanding adventure trip through the extreme north of Chile. Hard to say what we liked more. All in all, it was the diversity of the landscape, the culinary experience and the wonderful hiking tours and off-the-beaten-path treks in the Altiplano highlands & Atacama Desert that made this journey unique

Astrid & Thomas, Germany - April 2018

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Admire the world´s highest volcano lake, the Lago Chungará (4.570m /15,000 ft) in the Lauca National Park
  2. Climb the volcanoes Cerro Guane Guane (5.097m/16,720 ft) and Cerro Toco (5.604m/ 18,385 ft)
  3. Discover the Altiplano highlands and relax in the natural Polloquere hot springs on 4.200 m
  4. Visit the former saltpeter mine Humberstone
  5. Geyser El Tatio in the Atacama Desert
  6. Valle de la Luna, Valle de la Muerte & Cordillera del Sal

BEST SEASON

Aug

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TRIP DESCRIPTION

The Altiplano highlands and the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile rank among the most adventurous trekking destinations for hiking fans on the South American continent. Impressive volcanoes - most of them 6,000 m (19,685 ft) high, glistening salt lakes, colorful lagoons, steaming geysers and the driest desert on this planet define the Altiplano highlands and make them unique.

Join us on this unforgettable trekking trip and experience the most interesting contrasts between the barren and dry Atacama desert & the lush green Azapa- and Lluta-Valleys. Immerse into the world of the Aymara-Indians and follow the historical Ruta de La Plata (silver route). From a technical point of view, climbing the 5,000 m (16,400 ft) selected summits does not really create difficulties.

DIFFICULTY

Day tours that will challenge you moderately. Differences in elevation but also in temperature will be the most challenging part. This hiking trip brings you into regions without a developed infrastructure and you spend days without any contact with civilization. Therefore, good physical fitness and team spirit are necessary requirements for this tour. Higher elevations should not create problems for you.

ITINERARY

Day 1-3: Seaport Arica – 7,000 years old Chinchorro mummies – Andes Village Putre

Day 1
After having arrived at the airport of Arica we will pick you up and bring you directly to your hotel where you have some time to refresh and relax. Later on you will meet with the group for a first briefing with your local team. Overnight: Hotel in Arica in double room with private bathroom. (-/-/-)

Day 2
In the morning your guide will walk with you up to “El Morro” lookout and to the “San Marcos Cathedral”, designed in France by Gustave Eiffel. In the afternoon you can go for an optional boat ride along the Pacific coast, where you will be able to observe a variety of marine fauna such as pelicans, sea gulls or even sea lions and dolphins. Overnight: Hotel in Arica in double room with private bathroom.  (B/-/-)

Day 3
Today, you will travel through the Azapa-Valley to visit the Azapa Museum in San Miguel. Here you can admire mummies and relics of the Chinchorro culture that are more than 7,000 years old. Later, you will head for the idyllically situated Andes-village Putre at an elevation of 3,500 m (11,480 ft). On your way to Putre you will stop at the viewpoint "Pucara de Copaquilla". Overnight: Hotel in Putre in double room with private bathroom at an elevation of 3,500 m (11,480 ft). (B/-/-)

Day 4-5: Trekking the Andes Highlands on old smuggler trails

Day 4
Your hike today will show you Putre’s surrounding area: the breathtaking landscape and Vilacaurani’s “Pinturas Rupestres” (rock paintings). You will see alpacas and lamas and local flora of this region. In the evening you can taste alpaca meat and quinoa at a typical local restaurant. Appr. walking time: 5-6 hours, elevation gain of approx. 400 m (1,310 ft) ascent and descent. Overnight: Hotel in Putre in double room with private bathroom. (B/-/-)

Day 5
After breakfast, a short transfer will bring you close to the Nevados de Putre mountains, on an elevation of 4,200 m (13,780 ft). You will hike back to Putre on a very old path which was used in the past by smugglers. After this trek through the breathtaking Altiplano scenery you deserve some time to relax. Appr. walking time: 4 hours, elevation gain of approx. 700 m (2,300 ft) descent. Overnight: Hotel in Putre in double room with private bathroom. (B/-/-)

Day 6-7: Suri Plaza & Mars Valley – Lago Chungará - Summit Cerro Guane Guane (5,097 m / 16,720 ft)

Day 6
Today after breakfast you head up to one of the Altiplano´s best kept secret, to Suri Plaza. After one and a half hour you arrive at the “Mars valley” - so called because of the deep reddish and orange sand and mountains around there. On this trekking tour you will hike up to an amazing viewpoint on the Cosapilla mountain ridge (5,100 m / 16,730 ft). From there you will gain an unforgettable view over the vast Suri Plaza mountains and from a distance you can also see the “Payachatas”, the Twin-Volcanos. A very emotional moment which leaves you speechless! After this hike you will drive to the picturesque village Parinacota at an elevation of 4,390 m (14,400 ft), well known for the little church. Appr. walking time: 2-3 hours, elevation gain of approx. 250 m (820 ft) ascent and descent.
In the afternoon you will drive through the Lauca National Park, UNESCO biosphere preserve that was founded in 1970. Passing the highest volcano-lake on earth – Lago Chungará (4,570 m / 15,000 ft), reflecting the two twin-volcanoes Parinacota (6,342 m / 20,810 ft) and Pomperape (6,282 m / 20,610 ft) magically on its water’s surface. A delicious pasta dinner will strengthen you for tomorrows’ climb. Overnight: in the Refugio Parinacota in shared bedrooms and shared bathrooms at an elevation of 4,390 m (14,400 ft). (B/-/D)

Day 7
Get up early in the morning and start your trekking trip to the top of Cerro Guane Guane (5,097 m / 16,720 ft). The incredible view from the summit onto the vast Altiplano with its olive-colored peatlands (Bofedales) and salty-white rimmed lagoons will reward you with colorful sights along the long way up. In good weather, you can even see Bolivia’s highest peak - the Sajama (6,520 m / 21,390 ft). You can find archaeological remains of the Aymara culture around the summit, proof of religious ceremonies dating back hundreds of years. Appr. walking time: 4 hours ascent and 2 hours descent, elevation gain of approx. 700 m (2,300 ft) ascent and descent.
Drive to the picturesque village Guallatiri at an elevation of 4.280 m. Overnight: in the Refugio Guallatiri in shared bedrooms and shared bathrooms at an elevation of 4,280 m / 14,040 ft. (B/BL/D)

Day 8-9: Salar de Surire - Oasis Pica - former saltpeter mine Humberstone – San Pedro de Atacama

Day 8 
Today you drive to the Salar de Surire. The Salar (salt lake) is part of the Nature Preserve Las Vicunas. Las Vicunas is not just superbly located – it presents an absolutely rich wildlife: Vicunas, lamas, alpacas, ñandus and flamingos call this paradise home. The thermal springs of Polloquere (elevation 4,200 m / 13,780 ft) will invite you for a relaxing bath. In the afternoon you leave the Chilean Andes Highlands. The road trip takes you through the highly diversified landscape with its unique fauna and the drive will offer you an unforgettable natural spectacle. You will then reach the oasis Pica, famous for its rich limes. This cozy little village offers the ideal spots to relax from the long transfer: The soothing natural springs called “cochas” will invite you. Overnight: Hotel in Pica in double room with private bathroom at an elevation of 1,100 m (3,600 ft). (B/BL/-)

Day 9 
In the morning you visit the former saltpeter mine Humberstone. Afterwards you drive through the amazing Pampa del Tamarugal, passing former saltpeter mines and salt pans. In the late afternoon you will reach San Pedro de Atacama. On an elevation of 2,400 m (7,870 ft), the little town that has never lost a certain hippie-flair welcomes you with a variety of restaurants and bars. Relaxing from the long transfer day, enjoy the sunset in Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley). The sunsets play of colors is absolutely breathtaking. Overnight: Guesthouse in San Pedro de Atacama in double room with private bathroom. (B/-/-)

Day 10-13: Valle de la Muerte & de la Luna – Salar de Atacama - Ascent of Cerro Toco (5,604 m / 18,390 ft)

Day 10
Today, hike through the sparkling and twinkling Cordillera del Sal (Salt Cordillera) to the Valle de la Muerte (Death Valley) and the Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley, elevation 2,600 m / 8,530 ft). After a lunch break in San Pedro de Atacama you spend the afternoon at the Chaxa Lagoon, an extraordinary pool of water in the middle of the salt desert, and observe the many different flamingo species that call this desert zone home. The sunset will give the scene surrounded by volcanoes a purple glow when you head back to San Pedro de Atacama. Walking time: approx. 3 hours. Overnight: Guesthouse in San Pedro de Atacama. (B/-/-)

Day 11
Today, climb the extinct Volcano Cerro Toco (5,604 m / 18,390 ft). From its top, you have a stunning panoramic view on the bizarre desert world surrounding the summit. Elevation gain of approx. 400m ascent/descent; walking time approx. 4 hours. Overnight: Guesthouse in San Pedro de Atacama. (B/-/-)

Day 12
Early in the morning, you visit the Geyser “El Tatio”, at an elevation of 4,330 m (14,200 ft). To experience the sunrise there is simply fantastic: the scenery with its hissing geysers dipped in all shades of red will leave you speechless. Afterwards a short hike will lead you through the Guatin-Canyon (Quebrada de Guatin) where you get to know the typical flora of the usually absolutely dry Atacama Desert. You will find all kinds of cactuses, among them the flamboyant Cola de Zorro. Overnight: Guesthouse in San Pedro de Atacama. (B/-/-)

Day 13
Private Transfer to the Airport of Calama. (B/-/-)

WHAT’S INCLUDED

  • Accommodation: 10 nights in hotel or guesthouse in double room with private bathroom and 2 nights in Refugio in shared bedrooms and shared bathrooms
  • Meals: 12 x breakfast, 2 x box lunch, 2 x dinner
  • Local English/Spanish speaking certified trekking guide (WFR)
  • Transport: all private transfers as per the detailed itinerary
  • Emergency equipment: including a first-aid kit and VHF-equipment / satellite phone
  • Permit for the ascents of 5,000 m / 16,400 ft mountains
  • All entry fees as per the detailed itinerary

WHAT’S EXCLUDED

  • Single supplement: extra charge p.p. $250 USD 
  • Not appointed meals and beverages on the itinerary
  • Optional trips, e.g. boat ride on day 2
  • Tips/gratuity
  • Local payments
  • International and domestic airfare and airport charges
  • Travel insurance is not included in this tour. Travel insurance is mandatory and must be purchased prior to the start of the trip.

DEPARTURE DATES & PRICES

23.03.2020 - 04.04.2020
available
from 3.290 USD
28.09.2020 - 10.10.2020
available
from 3.290 USD
29.03.2021 - 10.04.2021
available
from 3.290 USD
27.09.2021 - 09.10.2021
available
from 3.290 USD

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