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“From Arica to Lake Chungara, Chile” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Parque Nacional Lauca

Parque Nacional Lauca
Arica, Chile
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Ranked #1 of 19 Attractions in Arica
Type: National Parks, Outdoors
Activities: Mountaineering
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Attraction details
Owner description: This national park is home to vicuna, alpaca, wild chinchilla and many other indigenous Chilean animal species.
San Jose, Costa Rica
14 reviews 14 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
“From Arica to Lake Chungara, Chile”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 17, 2014

Highway 11, the road to Lauca National Park, is also the major road used by Bolivian truck drivers (24 hours) and tourists should avoid using the road at night. From Arica one travels through fertile Lluta valley which is surrounded by the Atacama desert, known as the driest desert in the world, as well as one of the oldest deserts in the world. NASA has tested instruments in this desert for missions to the planet Mars. After leaving the green valley, large areas of the desert completely barren. When the road enters the "altiplano" or "high plateau" lands, the climate changes. This region is still semi-arid, but has sufficient rainfall for sparse vegetation and a large variety of animals can survive there. Camelids, like Alpacas, Vicunas and Llamas are easily spotted and often right at the edge of the road. Especially around Lake Chungara there are plenty of animals, including flamingos, ibis, ducks, teals, condors and geese. Two species of fish inhabit the lake. The lake is surrounded by several snow and ice topped volcanoes and since the air is always clean and clear, the scenery is spectacular.
Elevation of the lake is 4.500m, so some people experience hypoxia. It is important for tourists to make sure that tour companies carry oxygen equipment. People should also bring their own food because there are very few to no restaurants or stores along the road and in the park. Most of the road is in very good condition, but repair crews are always working on some rougher sections. Watch out for inconsiderate, pushy truckers, especially on the downhill direction back to Arica. (we were happy to have a very cautious driver)
Local people proudly point out that Chungara is the highest salty lake in the world, but...it does belong to the thirty highest lakes in the world.

Visited December 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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115 reviews from our community

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San Francisco
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
18 attraction reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
“Great for wild life”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 13, 2014

I went from Putre to Lauca and thought it was an excellent trip in regards to scenery and wild life.

Visited December 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brigham City, UT
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Beautiful, Majestic, Unique; High Elevation Desert, Lakes, Volcanos”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 15, 2013

If you're in Northern Chile, you need to go see this Park and all it's beauty. It is a uniquely beautiful landscape and an experience you won't forget. Very photogenic lakes, desert, dormant volcanoes. You can also see Flamingos (yes flamingos), Llamas, Vicuna, and other wild life. If you have a good driver, on the ride up, you'll also see huge geoglyphs of animals. So much to see!

Visited December 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bainbridge Island, Washington
Top Contributor
286 reviews 286 reviews
53 attraction reviews
Reviews in 90 cities Reviews in 90 cities
334 helpful votes 334 helpful votes
“Lifetime Wow”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 30, 2013 via mobile

We took a harrowing 5 hour bus ride up a scary winding mountain road and arrived at 15,500 foot elevation. The scenery was breathless and so were we. Despite the harrowing mountain road and lack of oxygen we saw amazing sights. Wild alpacas, llamas and other mammals not seen elsewhere. Flamingoes, vultures and many other birds abound. Fabulous views of snow capped volcanoes are a large part of the spectacular scenery.
Our white knuckled bus ride down from the mountains was only 3 hours.
I would not recommend driving a rental car on this trip, roads are terrible and buses and trucks aggressive.

Visited October 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane, Australia
Top Contributor
64 reviews 64 reviews
27 attraction reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
50 helpful votes 50 helpful votes
“Artistic Landscape”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 22, 2013

If god created the world in 7 days, he would have spent at 3-4 days creating Lauca. The magic on the way there and once you get to the lake is majestic.

We booked the 1 day tour from Arica and paid 20,000 Pesos. We picked the right agency too because the bus had a toilet and it paid off as our altitude-affected friends had the opportunity to go there once the altitude overwhelmed them.

One of the first stops we made was near a historical church in Poconchile. There, you will find vendors selling their crafts. Go straight up to them and slide 500 pesos in their shorts and walk away with the famous coca leaf. When you get on the bus, chew on it to release the juices which will aid you on the 4500 meter above sea level journey.

If you've had altitude sickness like myself and want to avoid it at all costs. Try to avoid - cheese, yogurt, milk, coffee, a big breakfast & alcohol.

Most of the people suffered at least a headache so take precautions as we start driving off from 500m to 4500m until we get to the lake.

The wildlife is amazing... We also went past hieroglyphs, the magnetic field road, the one baby a year rabbit, alpacas, vicunas, condor, the national deer etc.

Highly Recommended!

Visited July 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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