Putre and Parque Nacional Lauca

At Lago Chungara, at 15,100 feet.
Parinacota Volcano in background (20, 827 ft.)
Putre is a small village of almost 2000 located in the mountains of Peru.  It is the jumping off spot, and acclamation point, for people wanting to hike or simply drive around to explore the nearby Parque Nacional Lauca.  The park is home to dramatic landscapes, with snow-covered mountains and colorful, painted-desert hills.  Wildlife ranges from the petite vicuna to their relations the alpaca and llama, and then the viscacha, a rabbit-like rodent living among the rocks.  Flamingos, Andean Geese, Giant Coots and Andean Seagulls were seen walking on the icy lakes and streams in the area.  Even though we knew that flamingos make their home in this area, the first time we saw them walking on the edge of a frozen lake, there was a disconnect.  Aren't they suppose to be a tropical bird?  Obviously not.  Actually, flamingos "summer" in this Chilean mountain area by the thousands December through March, but there were
Lagunas Cotacotani
still a few around at Lago Chungara and in other regions in the park.

Visiting during the early winter, our evening temperatures were in the teens at night, and warmed up to the 50's during the day in the valley in Putre.  On departing the valley, temperatures dropped as we climbed in altitude.  Over 3 days, we explored the park and tried to locate as much of the wildlife as possible.  We didn't have any luck with the exotic wildlife like the puma or rheas, but the views in our travels were amazing. 

Parinacota, a tiny village of  18 located inside the park, is home to a white-washed church built in 1789.  During our visit, we didn't see a single person but llamas grazed in the fields on the edge of the village with the volcano in the background, beautiful.

Geoglyphs of the Lluta Valley
On our return to Arica, we made a stopped to see the Chinchorro mummies at the Museo Arqueológico San Miguel de Azapa on the outskirts of the city.  They are the oldest known mummy remains in the world, with dates going back to 7020 BC, thousands of years before the first known Egyptian mummies.  Northeast of the city, we stopped to see the well-preserved geoglyphs of the Lluta Valley, thought to have been created somewhere between 600-1500 AD.

After an overnight stay in Arica, we headed to Antofagasta.
Overview of Putre
Parinacota Volcano in foreground and Pomerape Volcano behind it

At Lago Chungara looking toward the Bolivian border


In village of Parinacota
Church in Parincota
Llama with volcanoes in background
Lower elevation in the park with some unfrozen water for the flamingo
Chilean flamingo
Icy watershed along the roadside

More vicuna, we saw hundreds of these delicate looking animals
Llamas at Lago Chungara
Alan on a short hike.  You can see the frozen stream, but not the 40 mph winds with the 30 degree temperature.  We simply didn't have the proper clothing for this type of weather conditions.
Heading back to Arica

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