A short expedition to explore the wildlife of the Atacama Desert; starting and ending in the city of Iquique, from the coast to the Andes and back!
First morning of this quest for the main flora and fauna of the Atacama Desert and we are hitting the Pan-American road towards the little coastal town of Pisagua, it’s a long drive crossing the desert so we’ll make some stops along the way. Once in Pisagua, the dramatic landscape hides a natural jewel; “Punta Pichalo” is home for many species of marine birds, some mammals and lots of marine life in general, to get there, we’ll take a boat and sail for some minutes on quiet waters, lots of young and playful sea lions will welcome you!
A nice seafood lunch with local people and off we go again… back to the desert and towards the Andes foothills; our journey today will literally take you from the ocean level up to 3,400 meters above sea level at the little village of Chusmiza, where we’ll spend the night (rustic hot springs are available in town).
Food: Lunch, Dinner.
Accommodation: Double room in cabin at Chusmiza.
Another completely different landscape and ecosystems await for us today, from the foothills to the highlands or “altiplano” the flora and fauna totally changes; wild Vicuñas, Suris (Southamerican ostridge), Vizcachas and donkeys (yes, wild donkeys!) should be expected to see. Llamas and Alpacas are also present and vast numbers!
As we leave the Isluga National Park, the backdrop of volcanos and llamas keeps with us, the town of Cariquima is next and we’ll dine and rest here.
Food: Breakfast: box lunch and dinner
Accommodation: Double room with private bathroom in rural hostal at Cariquima.
The morning light is good to appreciate the magnificent views of the Panavinto’s giant cacti forest, where hundreds of 7m tall cacti sit on the slopes facing the Coipasa salt flat… on the other side is Bolivia.
Next are the narrow passes to the small Villablanca lake and its surrounding grazing areas, many species of birds, some of them migratory, sometimes flamingos and Suris might be present, Andean coots and Puna teals and other ducks are always present, it’s a gorgeous landscape.
The final stop of today is the remote village of Chulluncane and a family of llama and alpaca shepherds is waiting for us, we’ll dine, talk, hear their stories and learn from the traditional Andean way of life. Nights inside a cozy adobe house are just better…
Food: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Accommodation: Shared room in traditional Andean adobe cabin.
The sun goes up again and warms up the chill morning very soon, a good breakfast with our local hosts and let’s say good bye to them, it’s time to continue the journey; on our final day, we’ll drive down the desert level to visit the Pampa del Tamarugal National reserve, who’s main objective is the conservation of the native desert trees “Tamarugos”, an excellent example of adaptation to the harsh environment. We’ll walk on their shade and meet the “grama salada” as well, another super desert-adapted flora species able to grow directly on the salt crust.
On our way back to the ocean, the absolute desert needs to be crossed again and this time we’ll meet a plant that grows where no one else can: the Tillandsia landbeckii ; this awesome air-rooted plant forms cushion-like formation in the middle of nowhere, creating a very unique landscape.
The port of Patillos exports the salt from Salar Grande to the world and it will be our first sight once we reach the Pacific, now that we are here, let’s take a final and short detour to see the seabirds getting together at Playa Chauca. With the sun going down, this is a great way to end our journey to meet the Atacama Desert wildlife!
Everyone gets transported back to its lodging at Iquique.
Food: breakfast, box lunch.
Accommodation: not included.
There are two people minimum of passengers for this excursion. There is a maximum of 6 passengers.
If you are traveling alone or more passengers are required, please contact us to design a non-binding custom proposal for you or you can join one tour with a programmed fix departure.
The Prices per person are:
- 4 to 6 people USD 500 p/p
- 3 people USD 600 p/p
- 2 people USD 700 p/p
If you decide to cancel your tour reservation, for any reason, the following are our terms:
Time frame / You receive:
- 15 days before trip departure / 70& refund of what you have paid minus a US$20 fee for operational expenses.
- 14 to 7 days before trip departure / 30% of your payments
- 1 day before trip departure / 10% of your payments.
If you would like to change to a different tour or departure date after signing up, we will be happy to transfer you on a space available basis up until 10 days prior to your tour. Please provide your transfer request in writing – email is sufficient. Please note, a US$20 transfer fee will be deducted from your previous payments for each transfer, and if you later choose to cancel your tour, the cancellation deadlines will apply to the date of the originally scheduled tour.
Místico Outdoors will confirm your trip in advance and will be done via e mail.
The reasons to cancel a booked tour will be due to bad weather conditions, government prohibitions or security reasons of any kind. If this is the case you will get 100% of your deposit refunded and will be happy to offer you another options.