Lauca Travel Guide

  • Lago Chungara, with Parinacota Volcano
    Lago Chungara, with Parinacota Volcano
    by SanguiniA
  • Vicunas
    Vicunas
    by SanguiniA
  • The Nevados above Putre
    The Nevados above Putre
    by SanguiniA

Lauca Things to Do

  • Salar de Surire

    These are other interesting places to visit in the Lauca surroundings. The roads to these parks are notoriously bad, so do yourself a favour and consult the ranger's office before you go (if you are driving a rental car and are not with a tour) - the Ranger station at las Cuevas is on the way. Flooding of roads and snowstorms are not uncommon - in...

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  • Vicuna

    This park is one of the best places to see Vicunas, the more dainty relatives of the domestic llamas and alpacas. Vicunas live in the central Andes, and are prized for their wool. Nowadays they are protected. These are quite shy camelids, but the ones in this park seem to tolerate human presence better than those in other parts where they are...

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  • Viscacha

    The viscacha is a weird and cute animal that specializes in living at very high altitude in the Andes. It resembles a rabbit with a tail, but in fact it is a rodent, and is more closely related to a chinchilla (which is also a South American native). Ideal habitat to find Viscachas are rocky terrains with boulders.Las Cuevas is an ideal place to...

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  • Bofedal

    Around las Cuevas, especially on the road towards Parinacota and Lago Chungara, one can notice a special type of habitat known as Bofedal, which is basically high altitude bogs. Well worth closer observation for wildlife, especially Andean bird specialties.

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  • Cotacotani Lakes

    Another impressive sight with the Parinacota & Pomerape Volcanos on one side and the lava flows filled with water on the other, forming a photogenic lake with tiny islands sprinkled in it. This is located on the way from Parinacota village to Lago Chungara, and you can either hike there on foot from the village or else stop with the car along the...

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  • Lago Chungara

    This must be one of the most famous sights in Chile, used in books, adverts and postcards. The snow capped and perfectly conical Parinacota volcano towering above the altiplanic lake of Chungara is a sight not easily forgotten. The Parinacota vocano stands at a staggering elevation of 6350m and Chungara lake itself is at 4500m. The lake is quite...

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  • Parinacota Village

    This tiny Aymara village with it's whitewashed colonial-style church is one of the highlights of the area. The jewel is undoubtedly the church, that apart from being gorgeous with it's white walls contrasting beautifully against the blue sky, is quite quirky. Inside they keep skulls of past priests, but unbelievable this is not the weirdest thing....

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  • Las Cuevas

    This is one of the entrances to the park, and it already offers some stunning scenery. There is a ranger station, and it is important to consult it if you are travelling by yourself with a car as the road conditions to some parts of the park are not very reliable.There is a walking trail around Las Cuevas which is highly recommended to take, not...

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  • Putre

    Putre is a small, attractive Aymara village at about 3500m of altitude, and is a great base for exploring the Parque Nacional Lauca. The Taapaca twin volcanos, usually covered in snow, serve as a pictoresque backdrop for the village. Putre is really relaxed, and is not as touristy as San Pedro de Atacama, though there are a few tour agencies,...

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Lauca Restaurants

  • The best for Alpaca Steak

    This is our restaurant of choice, their food was really nice, and they served the best alpaca. Their Chilean Salmon was also really nice. The ambience is a bit lacking when compared to Kuchu Marka though, the service was a bit sloppy and the constant Bolivian music videos a bit tiring after an hour or so.

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  • Andean Food Specialities

    This is the big brother of the cafeteria, the restaurant proper serving traditional altiplano specialities such as alpaca steaks. The ambience is good, service is great and it is definitely very popular with travellers. Food is quite nice though not the best in town for the alpaca steak ...

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  • Decadent cakes alert!

    There is only one word adequately describing this place: sinful!! If you are in Putre you just have to go here and try out their mouthwatering, decadent cakes! Apart from the delicious cake, there is a certain ambience about the place. Inside it is rustic and cosy and the spacious terrace is exotic and stylish. I will be dreaming about their...

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Lauca Transportation

  • SanguiniA's Profile Photo

    by SanguiniA Written Jan 25, 2010

    We opted for a rental car here, rented from Arica. a 4WD is a must in all seasons, even if you are told otherwise. In the best season to visit we found a snowstorm so you never know, it is the unpredictable Andes after all! Fill up with gas in Arica, and even though guidebooks might say otherwise, gas is available in Putre, though not through official stations. Just ask around.

    We found the roads mostly tolerable, but the snowstorm stopped us from going further afield so I cannot comment beyond Parinacota and Chungara. The road from Arica to Putre, while in good condition is very dangerous due to the huge amount of Bolivian truck drivers recklessly driving on the narrow roads with no consideration for their lives or the lives of us mere mortals in normal vehicles. We saw wreckages of trucks and there was a death on the road on one of the days that we drove it. So be mentally prepared to drive extremely defensively :) Going with a tour or a bus I guess the danger is all the same and is a matter of luck (or being unlucky!)

    A small 4WD is enough for the dry season

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