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Tours in Atacama: Altiplanic Lagoons

When I researched the Atacama Desert, I saw that the tip was to start with tours that didn’t go up too fast in altitude. That’s why Flávia, owner of the Ayllu Hostelthat I stayed in, said that the ideal would be to start with the Altiplanic Lagoons and that’s what i did.

I closed the four main tours (Altiplanic Lagoons, Valley of the Moon/ Valley of the Death, Cejar Lagoon and Geysers Del Tatio) by the hostel itself and I paid for them 60 thousand Chilean pesos (about 120 dollars).

TOURS IN ATACAMA: ALTIPLANIC LAGONS

After a full day of travel (I left Sao Paulo at 7 am and I arrived in San Pedro de Atacama at 18:00) and one night in search of the tours, I needed to sleep early. And it was after a good night’s sleep that I woke up at 6:30 am to wait for the first tour van, which would arrive at the hostel at 7 am.

Very cold, even with thermal clothes, hat and gloves, I was received by the friendly guide. On this first tour we were only 6 people, I was the only Brazilian. It is on this tour that we enter the Salar do Atacama. The first stop takes 45 minutes and the guide, who always speaks in English and Spanish, says several times that it is important to drink plenty of water, as we will gradually climb 2,000 meters. Please note that tour prices do not include tickets. At each stop, it is necessary to pay for the entrance, which usually costs from R$10 to R$20.

Tour in the Atacama: Altiplanic Lagoons (Photo: This World is Ours)

Tours in Atacama: Altiplanic Lagoons

LAGONA CHAXA

The first stop is Chaxa Lagoon, one of the most famous images of the Atacama. That’s where we saw the flamingos and the reflecting pools. This was the first moment I really lost my breath. It’s a lot of beauty for one place. And it was just getting started.

Tours in Atacama: Altiplanic Lagoons

Tours in Atacama: Altiplanic Lagoons

Before we go in (there’s the Flamingos National Reserve), we had breakfast made by the guide with bread, butter, cheese, ham, coffee and hot chocolate. Afterwards, we need to buy the entrance to the park (2500 pesos/ 5 dollars), students pay half and they accept cards from other countries. I don’t know why, but no entrance is included in the packages we closed for the tours.

Tours in Atacama: Altiplanic Lagoons

They say that the best time to take this tour is in the late afternoon, as the sunset is beautiful and it is also the time when the flamingos are fed, but I did it in the morning and I thought it was worth it. A curiosity is that it is there that the highest concentration of lithium in the world is.

After spending about 20 minutes observing the place, which was pretty empty, we left for the next destination.

Tours in Atacama: Altiplanic Lagoons

Tours in Atacama: Altiplanic Lagoons

Tours in Atacama: Altiplanic Lagoons

Tours in Atacama: Altiplanic Lagoons

SOCAIRE

At 10:20 am, that is, 3 hours after we left, we stopped at Socaire, a community that is located at an altitude of 3200 meters. It was once one of the most important places in the region and it was from there that all the agricultural products came to squid and San Pedro. What stands out the most is the old church, but we can only see the village from afar and for about 5 minutes.

Tours in Atacama: Altiplanic Lagoons

LAGUNA MISCANTI AND MIÑIQUE

After we left Socaire, I couldn’t stop looking at the beauty of what I saw through the window. In the distance, you can see mountains full of snow. I wanted to take pictures, but the reflection in the window wouldn’t allow it. I couldn’t have imagined that our next stop would be right in those mountains.

THE Miscanti Lagoon is at 4200 meters altitude. Therefore, the recommendation is to walk very slowly and drink lots of water. I didn’t feel anything at all, but an Indian couple, who must have been over 70 years old, suffered a bit from shortness of breath.

Tours in Atacama: Altiplanic Lagoons

Tours in Atacama: Altiplanic Lagoons

Before entering, we need to buy the ticket (5 thousand pesos / 10 dollars). Laguna Miscanti has an area of ​​15 km² formed by ice and, without any exaggeration, it is the real landscape of what we have always seen in pictures and Windows wallpapers. Is very beautiful! It was the second (third, fourth, fifth…) time I lost my breath (and it wasn’t because of the altitude)! It’s very beautiful!

Then it was time to meet the Lagoon Miñique, which is much smaller than Micanti and was once part of it. Dying from the cold (imagine the wind around the ponds), the guide released us to walk around them. As some of them ran to the van, I overcame the cold and went for a walk. By the way, an important tip (in addition to water, warm clothes, sunscreen and lip balm) is to bring your sunglasses. The guide even lent one to a girl who had forgotten hers.

Tours in Atacama: Altiplanic Lagoons

TOCONAO

The last stop on the tour was at play. The town has less than 1000 inhabitants and is 40km from San Pedro do Atacama. The city is literally deserted. Few people on the street, a few shops, a square and a church. A charming and unique place.

Tours in Atacama: Altiplanic Lagoons

After that it was time to go back to San Pedro, have lunch and get ready for the second tour of the day, which is for a later post.

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Adolfo Nomelini

Journalist graduated from PUC-SP and post-graduated in Communication in Digital Media, he is passionate about music, coxinha, television, his glasses and the internet. He has been working with online content for more than 13 years and spends much of his time “throwing his body out into the world, walking around and, by the natural law of encounters, leaving and receiving a little”.

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