Lauca National Park

Overview

Introduction

In the high Andes east of Arica, 1,365 mi/2,200 km north of Santiago, the lakes and steppes of Lauca National Park abound with flamingos, rheas (an ostrichlike bird), vicunas (wild relatives of the domestic llama) and some of Chile's most spectacular scenery. Because of the altitude—more than 14,400 ft/4,400 m above sea level—an overnight at the colonial village of Putre is advisable.

The Pallachatas, a pair of snow-capped volcanoes, rise behind Lake Chungara, one of the world's highest lakes and bursting with waterfowl. Also within the park, the Aymara hamlet of Parinacota is home to a 17th-century adobe church with murals that portray colonial Spaniards as Christ's executioners. Overnight camping is also available there and on the lake, but nights drop well below freezing at this altitude.

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