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Home / Packages & Daytrips / Atacama Desert / Salar de Atacama and Lagunas Altiplanicas

Salar de Atacama and Lagunas Altiplanicas

Travel Type: Nature
Duration: 1 Day

  • Tour Description
  • Notes
The departure to the Salar de Atacama with your tour guide is in the early morning. A salt lake of huge proportions (3000 sq km/1,158 sq mi!), its surface is covered by a thick layer of light-coloured salt crystals, caused by the evaporation of the lake’s water. The world’s largest lithium deposits are found here, but the salt flat is also home to several flamingo species, including the Andean, Chilean and James flamingo, who feed on the micro organisms found in the saline lagoons. These beautiful birds and other species can be observed in their natural habitat at the Salar de Atacama’s Chaxa Lagoon, which is part of the Reserva Nacional de los Flamencos.
The journey continues afterwards, to the tiny village of Socaire, set at 3218m/10,558ft, which is noteworthy for its strange architecture using rough stonework. The few inhabitants here still live by the age-old methods of planting terraced fields with corn, wheat and potatoes. A lunch-break is held here (lunch is not included), before the tour continues for about another 30km/19mi, climbing an additional 1000m/3,281ft in altitude to reach the highland lagoons of Miscanti and Miñiques, with their two – almost 6000m/19,686ft high – volcanoes of the same name in the background. The twin lagoons are a deep blue, each framed by a white salt crust, which creates a memorable contrast to the yellow highland grass all around. It is completely silent here. Even the duck species that breed here, the foxes, and the grazing vicuñas (a type of sheep), respect the majestic silence. During your return journey, you visit the green village square of the small oasis town of Toconao, with its large cacti and a white church with free-standing spire, and interesting constructions using cactus wood.
The drive back to San Pedro is in the late afternoon.
The Salar de Atacama and the village of Toconao can also be visited during a half day excursion.
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