„Norte Grande“ of Chile - Part 3


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Published: June 30th 2013
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Parque Nacional LaucaParque Nacional LaucaParque Nacional Lauca

4'500 meter above sea level
- Drive from San Pedro de Atacama to Iquique - 490 km

A long drive with straights as long as the horizon and never ending dirt roads due to road constructions, that was the ride in a nutshell to Iquique. The town itself proofed to be nothing exciting and we were happy to move on further north.

On our way to Arica we stopped at Humberstone and Santa Laura, where the wealth of the nitrate boom is still whispering through the deserted ghost towns. We wondered for half a day thru a bygone time and enjoyed the desert heat. Another short stop at “El Gigante” – a geoglyph which dates back to around AD 900 took both our fascination.

- Drive from Iquique to Arica - 310 km

The roads in the north of Chile are generally very good, deserted and straight, unless you have to cross a valley and there are many valleys to cross. We arrived late in Arica due to an unplanned 2 hours stop – about 150km short of our destination a friendly policeman explained us in his best English that the road only re-opens at 1700h, so we chatted with some Aussis
Parque Nacional LaucaParque Nacional LaucaParque Nacional Lauca

With loads of dirt roads
and read in the car until we could commence our journey north. Apart from the best Pisco Sours there is not much we saw of the port town close to the Peruvian and Bolivian borders. Our goal was set to dive high up.

- Drive from Arica to Putre km 150

Putre is a pocket sized village at a dizzy elevation of 3’530 meters and served us as the ideal acclimatization stop en route to the Parque National Lauca on the altiplano. The next day driving all the way up to the Altiplano on 4’500 meter was amazing - I have never been so high. Hiking would be great, but even Adi eschewed the idea of walking far - the air is so thin, every step is a challenge. Nevertheless Lauca has some breath-taking scenery, snow peaked volcanoes, sparkling lakes, pretty highland villages and the nimble-footed Vicunas.

I have to admit, I was glad to be back in Arica on sea level, the thin air was a constant feeling of discomfort – the body did not adapt very well.

Back in Arica a quick visit to the Chinchorro Mummies - the oldest known artificially preserved bodies in the world, proofed a little disappointing. But the real disappointment came later when I had to say goodbye to Adi. Thanks Adi, it was cool :-)


Additional photos below
Photos: 32, Displayed: 23


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AricaArica
Arica

El Morro - a dirt hill
Valley of Rio LlutaValley of Rio Lluta
Valley of Rio Lluta

On the way to Putre along a geoglyph path
Valley of Rio LlutaValley of Rio Lluta
Valley of Rio Lluta

Fertile land a scarce good
The air gets thinnerThe air gets thinner
The air gets thinner

First 2'00 meters altitude behind us
Pueblo TakiPueblo Taki
Pueblo Taki

Wise stop on 3'166 meter
Pueblo TakiPueblo Taki
Pueblo Taki

Self built wind- and solar-powered home
Owner AlexisOwner Alexis
Owner Alexis

He raised and home-schooled his 6 children up here
PutrePutre
Putre

Pocket-sized village at a dizzying elevation of 3'530m
HotelHotel
Hotel

Simple accommodation with heating
Hotel room, car and viewHotel room, car and view
Hotel room, car and view

Simple accommodation with heating
Parque Nacional LaucaParque Nacional Lauca
Parque Nacional Lauca

Unbelievable views - hiking paradise (in theory)
Parque Nacional LaucaParque Nacional Lauca
Parque Nacional Lauca

The road is heavily trafficked by trucks winding their route toward La Paz, Bolivia
Parque Nacional LaucaParque Nacional Lauca
Parque Nacional Lauca

There are about 500 trucks per day


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