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Provincia de El Loa

Here you’ll find travel reports about Provincia de El Loa. Discover travel destinations in Chile of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

Most traveled places in Provincia de El Loa:

  • On my 2nd day I got up at 4am to go to Geysers del Tatio, a nature spectacel that is unique in Chile and Bolivia. Underground water get in touch with hot vulcano stone that makes the water boil and explode. Freezing cold but a great experience. After a nice breakfast during the sunrise we were able to go for dip in the hotsprings.

  • Tu, 07.03. Piedras rojas
    That day I had my second tour, a full day trip to the 'Piedras rojas' (Red stones).
    Mauricio was again our guide and did another great job. The region is surrounded by the Coast and Andes Mountain Range and forms the driest desert in the world. It is equally the widest part of Chile with volcanoes of an altitude up to 6.000m. But with Chachacoma and Ojas de Mata I was well prepared against the altitude sickness ;)
    The salt here cannot be used to be eaten as it contains minerals. However, lithium and 25% of the world's copper needs are extracted here. As everywhere in SPA and its surroundings there are no sealed roads so it was again a pretty bumpy rollercoaster ride including a free massage :P
    Our first stop was 'Laguna Chaxa', a beautiful lagoon where you could see many flamencos. They can usually reach 70y but some here had even 90y of age. They breed only 2eggs once per year and with the heavy rains this year a lot of eggs were flooded away so that there were only 20-40 i/o 200 left. Btw, flamingos are born with a white colour and only turn pink after 6 months due to the betacaroteen which can be found in the shrimps they are eating 14-16h a day.
    Unfortunately, our bus had a tyre issue so that we lost an hour waiting for a new bus to arrive. But that didn't bother us that much, gave us more time to watch the flamingos and again, better be safe than sorry :)
    With the new bus we then drove through 'Salar Atacama', now already at an altitude of 3.000m and which was part of the Inka Trail that actually goes all the way from Ecuador to Argentina. We also saw a lot of agricultural terraces cultivating quinoa, sweetcorn and green beans before enjoying a tasty breakfast including scrambled eggs and mata tea in Socaire.
    Socaire is a town with one of the most earthquakes in Chile. It also has the 2nd oldest church rebuilt of red stone cold lava and a cacteen roof in 2010. The Cardon cacteen grows only 1cm per year and the one we saw was about 300y old which also explains why they are nowadays heavily protected.
    We also saw a lot of wildlife such as lamas, alpavas, lamb and goats and after passing the small town Toconao and its canyon also many trees including even Eucalyptus ones.
    The 'Piedras rojas' were the highest point at about 4.500m. It is an open field with a lot of winds but spectacular scenery that I found really hard to describe - my absolute highlight in Chile so far, just look at the pictures :) At this point our chips bags and some fizzy drink bottles inflated which is the same effect happening to our heart, lung and brain. I was fine but some people could feel the pressure with headaches (better with chachacoma) or had oxygen problems (better with mata tea).
    We then went to the 'Lagunas Altiplanicas Miñiques and Miscanti' at 3.000m with Miscanti being 10x bigger and both surrounded by 5.900m high volcanoes. There were again many flamencos, birds, alpavas in a really nice scenery.
    For lunch we then enjoyed a really yummy veg soup and then a Peruan chicken dish with salad, rice and quinoa omelette before our driver showed us how the bus can drive automatically in neutral gear based on the magnetic points and volcanic activities.
    The last stop was then at the Tropic of Carnicorn which I also crossed in Africa 4 months ago. It is one of the earth's 5 horizontal lines (aquator, arctic, antarctic, cancer and tropical) and which is also part of the Inka Trail. Here we could equally feel the real heat of the desert and got some last views of Volcanoe Laska and Atacama salt flat before heading back to SPA.

    We, 08.03.2016 Geysirs & Valle de la Luna
    That day I had two more tours; usually I don't book that many touristy tours as they are quite expensive - but with Woofing and Couchsurfing I saved some money the last days and could also get some tours at a more favourable price.
    With quite an early start at 4am and again a good sky full of stars we first went to the geysers, especially the famous 'Gyser El Tatio'. Typical for these regions, the temperature was only about 1* so definitively pretty chilly. It is the highest termal field in the world and the erupting water is about 86-96*. There was also the common smell of rotten eggs. Geysers work 24h but can best be seen in the cold mornings, similar to our breathing. They can erupt any time and the different colours come from the minerals with sulphur being yellow, thermal bacteria being orange and salt being black.
    As we were again quite high with 4.300m altitude for 5h everything and also our 30min hike along the Geysers was done in slow motion; no running, jumping or too much exercise. Alcohol and partying the day before is also not the best idea to avoid altitude sickness. There was also the possibility to bath in a 30* thermal pool but with an outside temperature of only 1* that wasn't appealing enough for me :O
    On our way we passed the active volcanoe Putanoe before we saw an incredibly beautiful and green wetland with a lot of animals such as vicunas, flamencos and lamas. That being said we visited Machuca, a 150 people village with currently only 8 habitants mainly living there to prepare empanadas and lama meat for the tourists. I also tried it and was positively surprised, it tasted quite nice but was with 3.000p quite expensive. Btw, when a lama female dies the man immediately stops eating and dies out of sorrow; vice versa when the male dies the female instantly finds a new male :P
    Fyi, the Atacama salt flat is the 3rd biggest in the world - with the 2nd biggest being in Argentina and the largest for sure the Uyuni salt flat in Bolivia which I will see in a couple of days ;)

    In the evening around 4pm I went to 'Valle de la Luna', after Piedras rojas my 2nd favourite place. The scenery is insane, you really get the feeling of being on another planet and some parts reminded me of sweet baked cupcakes - but just look at the pictures, it is again hard to describe :)
    This desert only has a humidity of 18% (in comparison, the Sahara desert has about 25%) so without water you would die even faster, after roughly 18h. On our drive through the valley we visited the 3 Marys and the Amphitheatre - great rock formations that can only be found here. We then had a long hike to the 'Great View' which was actually more than great but breathtaking: salt capped mountain ranges, volcanoes, sand dunes, Amphitheatre from the distance - just unbelievable ;)
    The last highlight was 'Mirador Coyote' where we went to see a spectacular sunset - again, pics say more than thousand words and not even with the best cameras these feelings can be captured; you just need to enjoy it :)))

    Th, 09.03. San Pedro de Atacama
    After 3 days touri program I enjoyed a really relaxed nice last day in SPA.
    That meant sleeping longer (until 8 or 9), doing some washing (which thanks to desert temperatures was already dry after 2h) and organising, i.e. booking my 3d/2n trip to the Salt Flats in Uyuni, Bolivia (the tours are generally cheaper if directly booked in Uyuni; however the bus ride from SPA to Uyuni is already about 25€, you need a hostel of min 15€ plus the tour itself from Uyuni is 90€ and as I got the SPA tour again cheaper the first mentioned option would have even been dearer for me; thanks a lot to Mauricio here, you are really amazing :)).
    For lunch and to thank Mauricio for his great hospitality and help, we both enjoyed a pretty yummy chicken in a nice small restaurant with backyard garden and a cool place to relax and digest the food.
    Afterwards I went to the 'Feria artesanal', the local craft market to buy oja de mata and chachacoma as my further travel will be in even higher altitude. I also bought 6l of water and 2 toilet rolls which is always needed to use the toilets (for which you also have to pay up to 1-6 Bolivianos, around 14-86cts).

    All in all I really loved Chile - it is a super narrow but incredibly diverse country and I have only seen the north so far.
    The only disadvantage is that it is a relatively expensive country comparable to Central European states such as Germany and France and that you have to pay for toilets and WiFi. That is also the reason why I decided to travel south in a couple of years when I have more money and to then combine it with the even more expensive southern Argentina and the super expensive Antarctica - places I can only enjoy with more money :)
    Moreover, I really met super nice people here, the country is relatively safe - a lot of reasons to come back ;)

    Concerning finances, I did quite well thanks to Nadi's contacts, my contacts, Couchsurfing and Woofing
    - in total, I only paid for and spent 3 nights in a hostel right at the beginning in Santiago and had my main expenses in transport and the 4 tours in SPA.
    I thus indeed only spent 221€, i.e. 8,80€/d in 3,5w/24d in Chile below my budget of 33€/d - saved money that I could then spent for the expensive tour to Uyuni (145€ for 3d = 48,30€/d and 15€ above budget plus 15€ shopping for hat, gloves and sweater to survive in the incredible cold) :P

    Fr, 10.03. - Su, 12.03. San Pedro de Atacama, Chile - Uyuni, Bolivia
    Pls see next footprint ;)
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  • Heute haben wir uns das Mondtal der Atacama Wüste angeschaut. Dieses ist eines der trockensten Gebiete der Welt. Hier gibt es kein Leben außer einer einzigen Bakterie. Die Landschaft ist geprägt durch Stein, Lehm und Salz. Letzteres sieht teilweise aus wie Schnee oder auch glasklar, wir haben vorsichtshalber probiert, um auch ganz sicher zu gehen. Der Anblick dieser Natur ist wirklich einzigartig. Das von den Anden kommende Gewitter hat zum Höhepunkt den Himmel dunkel gefärbt, während der Sonnenuntergang Farbe ins Spiel gebracht hat. Einfach geil.Read more

  • J'écrirai cet article plus tard car il y a trop de choses à dire et je n'ai pas encore pris le temps de le faire. Les photos témoignent de cette incroyable journée durant laquelle j'ai pleuré de joie, trop plein d'émotion dans mon coeur face à cette splendeur de la nature et à la grâce des animaux sauvages (autruches, vicuñas, ânes, flamands rose)...

  • Heute Abend um 18:45 Uhr ging es per Bus nach Calama. Nach 1,5 Stunden schon da. Ganz nach Julias Geschmack. Mussten nur einmal kurz für ein paar Alpacas, Ziegen und einen Esel anhalten. Sind ziemlich überrascht von der schönen Stadt, man sieht, dass hier Geld drin steckt. Gute Straßen und ganz nette Häuser. Unser Hostel ist auch top. Eben noch kurz im Supermarkt gewesen und paar Nüsse, Äpfel und ein Kanister Wasser geholt. Julia wollte gerne Mandeln; 200 g haben jedoch leider 6,20 Euro gekostet. Also leider nein, leider gar nicht. Dafür gab es dann Butterkekse mit dunkler (!) Schokolade. Das ist der Hammer, denn die gibt es hier echt selten. Julia also glücklich.
    Julia und David glücklich, denn morgen gehts nach Bolivien. Das Beste daran: Der Mann (Lukas) wartet schon auf uns.
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  • De busrit zit er bijna op en naarmate we dichter bij San Pedro komen, rijden we ook de regen in. Even voor de duidelijkheid, San Pedro de Atacama ligt in de Atacama woestijn. Waar het dus normaal droog is, en alleen 50 dagen per jaar bewolkt is. De rest van het jaar is het strakblauw en zonnig. Nu niet dus.

    De dag erna gebruiken we om eerst het één en ander te regelen voor Bolivia evenals onze 'stem' alvast uit te brengen voor de Tweede Kamerverkiezingen. Want dat hoort er natuurlijk ook bij!
    We sluiten aan bij een tour door het mini stadje en eindelijk zien we ook de bergen en vulkanen die rondom het stadje liggen zonder de bewolking. We besluiten daarna een tour te boeken voor in de middag om naar de lagunes op de nabije zoutvlaktes te gaan. Hier kan je, net zoals in de dode zee, drijven op het water door het hoge zoutniveau.

    Eenmaal onderweg zien we letterlijk de onweersbui hangen met de daarbij behorende flitsen en regen.. We rijden deze bui vol in en na een paar minuten begint het water ook langs de weg te spoelen.. En dan over de weg heen en al snel verdwijnt de weg al een stukje.. (Dit is geen asfalt weg maar een welbekende 'dirtroad' van zand en grind). De gids en chauffeur besluiten om om te keren, want je weet al helemaal niet hoe de weg er uit zal gaan zien op de terugweg. Zeker toen de gids de waterstromen die vanuit de bergen naar beneden kwamen aanwees, begreep iedereen deze beslissing volledig. Helaas voor ons hebben we dus weinig van de omgeving hier gezien máár.. Regen in de woestijn zie je ook niet alle dagen.

    Tussen de buien door zien we gelukkig nog wel de carnavalsparade van San Pedro. Welgeteld 8 'vrolijke' dames in flitsende pakjes en de lokale drumband...Hopelijk is het weer aan de andere kant van de Andes iets beter, want morgen vertrekken we naar land nummer 6: Bolivia!
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  • Nach 22 Stunden Bus gut angekommen!

    Hier ist es wieder richtig warm bei ca. 27-30 Grad, teilweise ohne Wind nachmittags. Wir haben ein schönes Hostel und fühlen uns hier wohl. Die neue Höhe von 2400 Metern hat uns zu Beginn schon etwas geschafft. Man bekommt hier bei der Eingewöhnung gefühlt nicht so viel Luft und ist schneller aus der Puste. Aber das ist normal und gut zur Eingewöhnung für Uyuni.Read more

  • Ich liege in meinem Bett, in einem sehr netten Hostal in San Pedro. Den Schlafraum teile ich mir mit einem Chilenen und einem Südkoreaner, die anderen beiden Betten sind noch nicht besetzt.

    San Pedro liegt auf 2450 Metern Höhe, ich habe es ein wenig gemerkt, als ich mit meinem 6 Liter Wasserkanister auf dem Rücken durch die Straßen ging. Man ist schneller außer Puste und das Atmen fällt einem etwas schwerer. Der Körper muss sich erstmal an die Höhe gewöhnen.

    Hier in der Umgebung gibt es eine Menge zu sehen, man kann sogar einige Ausflüge mit den Fahrrad unternehmen. Morgen Vormittag werde ich meine Ausflüge für die nächsten Tage organisieren, sodass ich möglichst viel von der Atacamawüste mitbekomme.
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  • Après une nuit rythmée par les allers- venues des camions de transports, nous nous réveillons plutôt en forme pour notre dernière partie de la route jusqu'au village de San Pedro de Atacama. Le lonely planet nous décrit l'endroit comme un mini Disneyland, peuplé de touristes mais dont le dépaysement et l'atypisme valent le détour.
    Bon, en attendant, nous sommes toujours dans cette gare routière avec notre café à la main, et nous devons rejoindre Johanna et Ludo (les 2 français rencontrés à l'auberge de La Serena) qui arrivent à San Pedro en bus vers 9h.
    Anne, assise près des sacs à dos, sort son "cahier de stop" et se met à tracer les 4 premières lettres de CALA....(ma) puis se voit interrompue par un homme qui lui demande où elle va. "On va à San Pedro", dit-elle. Notre futur nouvel ange gardien explique qu'il se dirige vers Calama et qu'il peut nous y emmener.
    C'est reparti pour 3h de route jusqu'à la ville de Calama. Nous continuons notre parcours dans le désert et, les yeux ébahis, nous posons des dizaines de questions à Rodrigo, qui a l'air ravi de pouvoir nous parler de son pays et de sa culture. Ce dernier s'est fait tatouer le visage de sa douce sur le biceps de son bras droit. Il nous le montre fièrement. Il est jeune papa de trois enfants, et son travail consiste à fournir du matériel aux mines de cuivre (très nombreuses dans la région). Ne me demandez pas plus dz details, je n'y connais rien! Pour cela, il fait des allers retours entre la Serena, Calama et Antofagasta toute la semaine et je pense qu'il est bien content d'avoir de la compagnie de temps à autres.
    Arrivés à Calama, il va nous inviter au restaurant, après nous avoir accompagnées dans un supermarché avec un rayon spécialisé dans les accessoires de camping. Escortees par notre doux gentleman, nous nous achetons des sacs de couchages et matelas (très/beaucoup trop fins) juste question de ne pas dormir à même le sol comme on l'a déjà fait plusieurs fois...!
    Le ventre rempli, la tête pleine de merveilleux souvenirs suite à cette belle rencontre, nous reprenons nos pouces et sommes déposées sans encombres jusqu'à San Pedro par un autre gentil chilien.
    Non sans difficulté, le dos écrasé par notre sac et sous une chaleur infernale, nous trouvons un camping et installons notre tente. Quelques heures plus tard, nous nous rendons sur la jolie place de San Pedro et nous tombons nez à nez avec notre petit couple de français !Nous decidons, sans plus tarder, de chercher un loueur de véhicules adaptés à notre périple...commence alors le debut d'une longue oh oui tres longue marche qui nous fait tourner en rond.

    Les bureaux du fameux loueur étaient auparavant installés dans le centre mais depuis un certain temps ils ont été déplacés un peu plus loin...(juste question de nous rendre la tâche facile). Sans adresse et munis de notre plis beau castillan, nous demandons aux gens et finissons au bout de...trop longtemps par trouver cet fameux lieu (fermé).
    Quelle victoire...! demain, nous nous rendrons chez ce dernier et nous parcourrons le désert d'Atacama!
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Provincia de El Loa