Day 3 Putre to Colchane, Chile via Salar de Surire

September 25, 2015

This is part of a 5 day/4 night private tour with Mayuru Tours from Arica to San Pedro de Atacama through the Chilean Altiplano. For their complete itinerary click here.

Day 3 – Putre to Colchane via Las Vicuñas National Reserve, Salar (salt flat) de Surire and Volcano Isluga National Park.

National Reserve of the Vicunas

Today’s route was mostly on rough dirt roads through the reserve, around the salt flat and on to Colchane. We saw very few other tourists, only a pair of older European women in a Range Rover camper conversion.

National Reserve of the Vicunas

National Reserve of the Vicunas

Vicuñas

Photos can’t begin to capture the beauty and expanse of the ever changing Altiplano, but merely give a sense of the place.

National Reserve of the VicunasNational Reserve of the Vicunas

Francisco gave us the option of bypassing the towns of Ancuta and Guallatire listed on the itinerary and instead visit this canyon which I believe is named Marca de Diablo. He let us off near the top and we walked past the canyon and down a hill to meet him and the truck further down the road.

National Reserve of the Vicunas

This detour also allowed us to avoid traveling behind one of the many big trucks that use the main road between Salar de Surire and the borax plant outside of Arica.

National Reserve of the Vicunas

National Reserve of the Vicunas

Llamas

National Reserve of the Vicunas

Llamas

Salar de Surire

Vicuñas, Borax production in the background

The Salar de Surire was one of the most amazing places we saw on our travels through the Altiplano. Even more amazing was that we saw no other tourists our entire way around the 40 kilometer lake.

Salar de SurireSalar de Surire

A section of the salt flat is reserved for borax production while the rest is a national natural monument.

Salar de Surire

Vicuñas

Salar de Surire

Vicuñas

Salar de Surire

Suri

Salar de Surire

Flamingos

Lots of wildlife can be seen around the lake – flamingos, vicuñas, llamas, alpacas and suri, a large flightless bird.

Salar de Surire

Flamingos

Salar de Surire

Salar de Surire

Thermal baths of Polloquere

On the southwestern edge of the lake are the Polloquere Thermal Baths and picnic area.

Salar de SurireSalar de Surire

The pretty pools look inviting but be aware that you’ll sink into the bottom which is a thick fine mud that is supposed to be good for your skin and whatever ails you.

Salar de SurireSalar de Surire

This particular day was beautiful but windy. We had a quick picnic lunch that Francisco had arranged to have packed for us at Kuchu Marka in Putre consisting of chicken with potatoes and bread and a choice of fruit or jello. He had also picked up some juice boxes and a small bottle of wine.

Salar de Surire

National Park Vulcano Isluga

Yareta

National Park Vulcano Isluga

Past the salt flat we traveled another 90 kilometers on rough roads through Volcano Isluga National Park. The landscape continued to change and impress.

Short stops at:

Suricayo Viewpoint

National Park Vulcano Isluga

 

A bofedal – Atliplano wetlands where llamas and alpacas feed.

National Park Vulcano IslugaNational Park Vulcano Isluga

 

Small churches including the Iglesia de Isluga.

National Park Vulcano Isluga

National Park Vulcano Isluga

Iglesia de Isluga

 

National Park Vulcano Isluga

Llamas returning to the homestead

National Park Vulcano IslugaNational Park Vulcano IslugaNational Park Vulcano IslugaColchane - Hotel Isluga

Spent the night at the Hotel Isluga, the only hotel in Colchane. If it weren’t for the snowcapped volcano in the background you might think you were in West Texas.

Colchane

Colchane

The hotel is an odd structure with high ceilings and crown molding. Our room had windows that opened onto the hall.

Colchane - Hotel Isluga

The room was reasonably clean and comfortable. The hot water, however, ran out in the shower. Electricity is on from 7PM to midnight only. No safe or hair dryer in the room, but there is an electric heater that works fine when the electricity is on.

Dinner was very basic, choice of meat with potatoes and a side of rice or quinoa.

Breakfast consisted of warm bread and scrambled eggs served with the usual cheese, a type of bologna, jam, margarine, coffee, etc.

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3 Responses to Day 3 Putre to Colchane, Chile via Salar de Surire

  1. Pingback: How to Plan Your Time in the Atacama Desert | Cooking in Tongues

  2. Louise says:

    This trip is not for the feint of heart. Bring water, food and a desire to be in the desert. Vicuñas only go so far and so do old churches. Unless you can somehow feel the spirit energy of the past unfortunates who passed this way, it is not much fun.

    • baidanbi says:

      Thank you for sharing. I appreciate your input. Are you commenting on the trip to the Salar de Surire or the whole 5 day road trip? I do agree that the Atacama isn’t for everyone, but for those who love the high altitude desert the Salar de Surire is a special place.

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