"ARICA : PARQUE NACIONAL LAUCA" Chile Things to Do Tip by swesn
Chile Things to Do: 347 reviews and 637 photos
Parque Nacional Lauca is one of the most spectacular and dramatic national parks in Chile.
A visit from Arica basically takes one from sea-level to 4500+m in one day. All tour vans were required to carry oxygen masks to resuscitate any dying tourists. But don't worry, as on the way up, they make many photo stops and one mate stop (where you stock up on mate de coca) to help you acclimatise.
The park changes from dry desolate landscape to green flatlands with grassy moulds and finally to snowy volcanoes, some over 6000m and lakes, Cotacotani and Chungara. Lake Chungara is the highest lake in the world. It passes a few bleak altiplano towns like Putre.
The park contains many species of bird, including the flamingoes, the vizcacha (a kind of animal that looks like a rabbit with long tail), herds of the rare and very graceful vicunas, which are of the cameloid family and pumas.
There are great views everywhere.
Be aware that you will be at very high altitude when you reach Parque Nacional Lauca and so you should bring warm clothes - coat / jacket, hats, gloves - even though you may set off from clammy Arica, a seaside town.
Some tourists arrange to stay over at Parinocato (4300+m) and Putre (3500+m) overnight. If you would like to do this, you may arrange with your tour company and see if they can pick you up on the return trip the next day (when they come with another group of tourists). But do be very, very prepared with good sleeping bag and warm clothes. The locals here drink 96% alcohol to keep warm for a reason.
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