Top Ten Chile Classic Adventures

Climb in Lauca NP

Near the Bolivian and Peruvian borders, east of the city of Arica, Parque Nacional Lauca is a top-of-the-world experience—flamingos fly above cobalt-blue lakes, Aymara shepherds tend flocks of llamas and alpacas some 14,000 feet above sea level, and climbers attempt to summit snow-clad volcanic cones that stretch to 20,000 feet. Like Torres del Paine, Lauca is a Unesco Biosphere Reserve. But make no mistake—this is high-altitude country. Long hikes are tough without acclimatizing at foothill villages like Putre, 11,000 feet above sea level. Even the drive there is spectacular: The paved highway from Arica, up the scenic Rio Lluta canyon, passes several archaeological sites before arriving at the picturesque hamlet of Parinacota and its spectacular colonial church. Once there, besides flamingos and llamas, you'll also find the wild vicuqa, the recovery of which is one of the great conservation successes of contemporary Latin America. Really prepared for a challenge? Well-equipped climbers, in top physical condition, can attempt 20,833-foot Volcan Parinacota.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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